Small-team innovators are constantly entering the real estate market, but there hasn't been a significant industry-changing entrant since the dot-com boom. Until now. Zillow, a hush-hush online real estate startup founded by former Expedia executives Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink, could represent the first serious challenge to how real estate has been sold for decades. Consider the quality of its founding team, the size of the initial investment and the founders' appetite for new business models. While Zillow's tight-lipped approach has afforded little indication of what exactly the business will look like, records at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lend some clues about what the Seattle company may be planning. Early patent and trademark recordings filed by the company indicate that it has plans for some kind of online marketplace for real estate listings. Specifically, one record is for providing an online computer database and online searchable database featuring information an...
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