In this classic episode of the Biz Doc Podcast, Tom Ellsworth performs a case study on real estate market company Zillow, following the company’s timeline and the milestones they reached along the way. Subscribe to the channel and share this video!

Zillow started in Seattle in 2005. It raised $87 million during its venture stage: $32 million in Series A, $25 million in Series B, and $30 million in Series C.

All of their development was put into a website, which then became an app in 2009—just when iOS was being introduced. Zillow also had a service called the “Mortgage Marketplace” that informed users about available mortgages and allowed them to research a house.

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They went public in July 2011, just six years after launch. The IPO was around $20 a share in 2012.

In 2013, they bought “StreetEasy” with the extra cash they had brought in. StreetEasy covered the New York market.

In 2015, they bought Trulia, another home listing service.

But Zillow’s “Z Score” began to upset the real estate market, and angered many real estate web services. To fix this, they did something clever and innovative. Citing a report that indicated Zillow was usually off by $14,000 and opened a contest: they announced a $1 million prize for any tech team anywhere on earth to come up with an accurate and effective AI model that could appraise houses.

In 2019, they kept their promise: they announced the winners (“Team ChaNJestimate, comprises data scientists and engineers from around the world: Chahhou Mohamed of MoroccoJordan Meyer of the United States, and Nima Shahbazi of Canada”) and gave them the million-dollar award.

Zillow continued to dominate the market into the 2020s. Watch the rest of the Biz Doc’s video to learn how.

Shane Devine is a writer covering politics, economics, and culture for Valuetainment. Follow Shane on X (Twitter).

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