The Fool recently explored Seattle. In the video below, CEO Spencer Rascoff introduces us to Zillow (NASDAQ: Z), telling us how the online home and real estate marketplace works, what he considers its greatest strengths, and what investors should know about it.
Spencer outlines why Zillow's database of 110 million homes -- and its user-generated content -- is more analogous to the YouTube library than to catalogues such as Amazon or Netflix.
To view the full interview, click here.
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Austin Smith: Looking at the Zillow portfolio of assets, what is Zillow's most important asset?
Spencer Rascoff: The most important asset is the living database of all homes. The information that we have on 110 million homes which, through seven years of user-generated content, over 30 million of those homes have been updated or edited; have had an owner or their representative change information.
Much as Wikipedia is a living database of all the world's knowledge, Zillow is a living database of the entire housing stock of the U.S. and that is very difficult -- arguably impossible -- to replicate. That's our most important asset.
Austin: If I can stress-test that a little bit...
Austin: A lot of people may have said the same thing about Netflix's asset of all of their user play history and things. But then you've got a company like Amazon -- they have deep enough pockets, they've got their IMDB platform -- that they could disrupt it. Is there an equivalent in this space?
Spencer: Yeah. Netflix saying that their point of differentiation is their algorithms -- their recommendation algorithms -- or Pandora saying their point of differentiation is their recommendations, I don't think is the right comp.
For us, I would think of it more like YouTube's treasure trove of user-generated content -- basically, their library -- which makes the YouTube catalogue distinctive from the Amazon catalogue or the Netflix catalogue or the NBC.com catalogue. That, to me, I think is more comparable to what we have.
We have this database of all homes, but it's constantly being improved upon. It's not the user's knowledge. It's not the user, "Oh, I like this home, I don't like that home." It's that the property record on 123 Main Street, which the county thinks has two bedrooms and two baths and the owner has come in and told Zillow it has four bedrooms and four baths. That's what I'm talking about. That's what's distinctive.
Austin: That is something that there is probably no replication for in this space.
Spencer: We certainly have a very multiyear lead here.