Some people have the Midas touch, they touch everything and turn it to gold, and Rich Barton can consider himself lucky to be among them. He has been the mastermind behind Expedia, Glassdoor and Zillow, and despite the success, his wife had to make him promise never to start anything new. Yet for a person whose company boasts of having the most popular app in real estate, it’s natural for Rich’s mind to keep wondering what to do next to empower people. If you’re into real estate, you may have noticed that the Zillow logo changed last year, but do you even know how Rich came up with the company name? This is how Zillow was founded.
Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur
In 2014, Barton responded to a mother who was concerned her son was interested in pursuing her entrepreneurial ideas rather than looking for work. Rich told him that entrepreneurship teaches responsibility, and building a career doesn’t necessarily mean working for a company. He gave the example of his father, who studied chemical engineering and worked in a plastics company for 34 years. According to Rich, building a career means gaining skills by doing what you are passionate about until you have enough in your arsenal to do something bigger, like perhaps launching your own company.
Rich put this principle into practice since he was a child. By the time he acquired his driving skills, he used them driving an ice cream truck for his first business. Rich acquired his skills on the job regarding which route was the most profitable, how to price the product for a profit, and buy enough stock to keep his customers coming back for more. Within two years, he had moved from the ice cream business to a golf country club working as a caddy. When he was in college, Rich didn’t need his parents to pay for all of his expenses; while they paid tuition, Rich was earning enough money to cover his upkeep. He used to spend the summer holidays painting people’s houses. When the company he worked for got greedy and demanded a significant reduction in the profit margins it made, Rich had had enough of it, so he started his own company.
Having experienced the freedom that comes with being his own boss and with a mind that is always on the run, Rich didn’t stay long at Microsoft before deciding to start another company within the company. While at Microsoft, he thought of a travel company, Expedia, and pitched the idea to Bill Gates. Although Rich wanted to go and establish the company outside of Microsoft, Bill Gates encouraged him to create it while he was still within Microsoft. It was an impressive concept that helped Rich convince Microsoft to invest $ 100 million in the company. It was launched on the Internet in 1996 and was successful enough to acquire two competitors. In 2003, Expedia was acquired and Rich resigned as CEO and President effective March 31, 2003.
Zillow comes to life
Rich said that while he and Lloyd Frink were buying houses, they felt powerless. There was so little information on the net about housing; therefore, they had to hire a professional who was still quite stingy with information. Since they were still trying to come up with a new business idea now that Rich had quit Expedia, it occurred to them that they should have a place where people can access real estate information. Although Lloyd was gravitating towards an idea similar to what Dropbox is today, Rich is glad they decided to go the real estate route.
They were thinking of different URL ideas and they didn’t have a lot of money to spare. Rich explained that opting for something like “homes.com” would cost them a lot of money, but they didn’t want their budget to go over $ 10. So while they were drunk and brainstorming all the different words they would combine, one from the side emotional and another from the data side, they had “trillions” and “pillows.” Consequently, “Zillows” was born, and they paid $ 9.99 at GoDaddy.com for the URL.
At first, people were concerned about what Zillow offered. In 2016, Zillow was proud to be the largest real estate media company in the world, with more than 2,000 employees and more than 140 million users on the applications and the site. Although Rich Barton had handed over the reins to Spencer Bascoff to be CEO, in February 2019, Rich resumed the role of CEO. It owns the largest stake in the company; His stake is worth $ 700 million, while Zillow had a market capitalization …