Hacker profile: Jonas Boli

'My passion is in building things that change people's lives'

Jonas Boli

Product and engineering manager, Zillow

Time at Zillow: Three years

What he does: I manage the product direction and teams that build Zillow’s experiences for viewing home information, as well as our products for helping consumers find great real estate agents.

Age: 30

Degree: B.S. in computer science, Stanford University

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Location: Seattle

Social media: LinkedIn

I’m a product guy; my passion is in building things that change people’s lives. For me, real estate is an amazing industry because we’re all here to help people make great choices about their living situations, to improve both their daily lives and their finances. Working in this industry is so rewarding because a home affects a person’s life in such profound ways and because it applies to literally every single person in the world. There’s nothing better than seeing firsthand how your own work has helped someone find a home and connect with a great agent, and hearing how it has made them happier. ​

At Zillow, my role is to help the company figure out what we should build next and to support the incredibly talented engineering teams that bring those ideas to life. A typical day for me can involve a huge variety of activities, from whiteboarding new concepts to clearing roadblocks for my teams, or from setting marketing plans for product launches to listening to feedback from consumers and agents. I’m always looking for different perspectives, so I love interacting with people from all different backgrounds in the industry and at Zillow.

The “Past Sales” feature on agent profiles is a great example of these coming together to shape a new product. At the time, consumers were telling us they wanted to learn more about an agent before hiring them, and agents were telling us they wanted a stronger profile presence on Zillow. By fusing the two perspectives, we realized we could solve both if we enabled agents to add their sales history to their profiles, and then exposed that information to homebuyers and sellers. Today, we hear lots of feedback from consumers that the information helps them make the right decision, and from agents that it helps them close more business. Success!

One of the most fun parts of my job is something we call Hackweek. Twice a year, the whole product team (and anyone else who wants to) pauses all projects, meetings, and other duties to dedicate an entire week to dreaming up and prototyping new ideas. Everyone is free to work on whatever their heart desires, typically joining forces in groups of three or four. The only rule is that you have to show your work to everyone at the end of the week, during “demo day.” The passion during this week is incredible, and a lot of our best ideas as a company come out of it.

Outside of work I spend my time ski mountaineering in the Cascades, mountain biking and doing Crossfit.

Jonas-Boli-Workspace
Boli’s workspace.

Favorite Instagram account?

@natgeo.

Favorite food?

​A California burrito with all the fixings.

Favorite book?

The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen.

Favorite city?

Seattle, the best kept secret in the lower 48.

Favorite band or singer?

That’s a tough one. Lately, I flip between Loretta Lynn and a Norwegian electronic duo called Royksopp.

What do you hate about technology?

It’s not moving fast enough!

What is one thing you would like to fix about the real estate industry?

I think the industry as a whole should be more focused on what’s best for the consumer.

Do you think technology can change the industry?

Absolutely.

In or out of real estate, is there one problem, large or small, that you would like to solve?

Unequal global access to education and capital. That’s a biggie.

What motivates you?

Seeing the impact of my work firsthand.