CEO, Zillow Group
Overall Rank: 3
Spencer Rascoff, the longtime leader of Zillow Group, retains his second-place ranking on the 2019 SP200 based on a bit of a mixed 2018 that saw significant wins and noteworthy losses.
Zillow Group continued to post impressive growth in 2018, with revenue up 21.9 percent in the first nine months of 2018 over the same period in 2017, from $794.5 million to $968.2 million. Zillow Group should easily end 2018 with over $1.2 billion in revenue and remain the undisputed dominant portal, with a stated 186 million average monthly unique users in the third quarter 2018 (up 7 percent from the same period in 2017). No one is even close.
Nonetheless, some darker clouds have gathered over Zillow Group. Its 2018 initiatives, such as Premier Agent 4.0 in which the company screens and validates incoming leads before passing them to paying customer agents, lacked results and met strong industry pushback. That led to cancelled subscriptions, a stock pounding (it dropped almost 25 percent in a short period), and a company about-face in which it scuttled its scrubbed-lead service with Premier Agent 4.1.
As of late December 2018, Zillow Group is trading around $31 less than half of its 2018 high of $65.42. This dip wiped out more than $4 billion of market cap.
True to form, however, the company has made bold moves in 2018. In addition to Premier Agent 4.1, it brought its iBuyer initiative Zillow Homes out of trial mode and jumped into the mortgage business with the acquisition of Mortgage Lenders of America. 2018 may be a rebuilding year for Zillow Group, as it continues its transformation from a pure advertising platform into something far more powerful and ingrained in the brokerage industry. On the other hand, 2018 could also foreshadow some difficult years ahead.
But if its track record, led by the steady hand of Spencer Rascoff, is anything to go by, do not bet on it. Rascoff is focused and continually charting new waters for his massive company; when Zillow Group acts, the industry reacts. The iBuyer model was a novel concept when launched in 2014, but Zillow Group validated it with its full leap in 2018. In residential real estate’s fast-changing environment, where access to capital has become a vital, powerful business tool, Zillow Group’s $1.6 billion in cash and short-term investments proves an ace up its sleeve.
Rascoff has been with the Zillow since inception. He was one of its founding employees in 2005 and became CEO in 2010 when co-founder and current executive chairman Rich Barton relinquished the role. Prior to Zillow, Rascoff co-founded Hotwire.com, an internet travel company later acquired by Expedia. He has received numerous awards, including Fortune’s 2012 40 Under 40 Hottest Young Stars in Business and Forbes’ 2016 America’s 20 Most Powerful CEOs Under 40.
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