Zillow Promotes Spencer Rascoff to CEO, Rich Barton Stays on as Executive Chairman

Zillow, the Seattle-based real estate website, mobile platform, and mortgage marketplace, said today that it has promoted chief operating officer Spencer Rascoff to CEO. Rascoff, who joined Zillow as part of its original executive team in 2005, is taking the place of co-founder Rich Barton, who has served as chief executive since the company’s founding. Barton will continue to be involved in the company, staying on as executive chairman of the board.

Rascoff has been steadily picking up new responsibilities throughout his career at Zillow. Prior to taking over the role of chief operating officer in October 2008, Rascoff served as both Zillow’s chief financial officer and vice president of marketing. It’s all of his progression in the online startup space. After getting his start in investment banking, Rascoff co-founded discount travel site Hotwire.com in 1999 and helped grow the company to be a leader in online travel. When it was acquired by InterActiveCorp for $675 million in 2003, he joined the team at an online travel company Barton co-founded: Expedia.

“Spencer is an immensely capable and energetic leader who has been a driving force at Zillow from the beginning, helping to grow the company from a spark of an idea into a profitable industry leader. This promotion is well-deserved and reflects the leadership responsibility he’s been carrying for a while,” Barton said in a statement.

Zillow has had a pretty big year. The startup, which consistently tops Seattle 2.0’s monthly Web traffic rankings and has grown to have 200 employees, has tapped the growing online real estate market, breaking records for both Web and mobile traffic, mortgage requests, and sales. In July the company formed a partnership with Yahoo! Real Estate, creating the largest real estate advertising network in the industry. Last month, Zillow’s traffic surpassed 12.5 million unique users, up 41 percent from the same time last year. And earlier this month the startup inked another partnership, this time with Chicago-based Apartments.com, to create a more comprehensive national database of apartment rental listings. To date, the company has brought in $87 million in financing. Zillow has also hit another major startup milestone—it’s profitable.

Spencer Rascoff

Spencer Rascoff

“Zillow is in a great place right now—we’re profitable, and all operating and financial metrics are tracking up and to the right,” Rascoff says.

So what’s coming up next for the growing company? According to Rascoff, the company plans to continue to grow in its current markets, while expanding its emphasis on mobile.

“My top priority for Zillow, moving forward, is to extend our reach even further. As a media company, it’s an ongoing goal. We also plan to continue growing our revenue and building out Zillow Mortgage Marketplace,” he says.

The Zillow Mortgage Marketplace is now the company’s fastest growing business. In August the system tracked 314,000 loan requests, a six-fold increase over the same time last year. The company has also laid a strong foundation in the mobile app marketplace. Currently, Zillow runs the most popular real estate applications across a number of mobile platforms—the iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows Mobile devices—surpassing two million downloads, and accounting for nearly 20 percent of the company’s weekend traffic.

“I expect the next year will bring more growth in traffic and revenue, and I think we’ll see great things from Zillow Mortgage Marketplace. It’s already our fastest-growing business unit, and is built on the innovative notion of letting consumers shop for mortgages anonymously,” Rascoff says. “I also expect to see our mobile usage expand. We already have the biggest real estate app on iPhone, iPad and Android, and I think we’ll take even more of a leadership role in the mobile arena moving forward.”

Barton, in his new role, will hand over day-to-day responsibility for running the company to Rascoff. But Barton will still be closely involved as executive chairman, come in to the Zillow office, and spend about half his time working on the company, Rascoff said.

Prior to co-founding Zillow, Barton founded and ran Expedia, the world’s leading online travel site. Earlier this year, he joined up with former Expedia pal Greg Slyngstad to create a new travel startup, New Travelco (aka TravelPost), which—still veiled in stealth—brought in $9.8 million in equity financing. While Barton has his plate more than full, Rascoff says he will continue to play an active role at Zillow.

Barton “will be a resource for me and the rest of the Zillow team when it comes to bigger issues and opportunities,” Rascoff says. “I’ll be running the business day-to-day.”

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