Zillow maintained its Web market dominance in October. Of the 98.7 million visitors to real estate sites from desktop and mobile devices in October, just under half came to zillow.com, according to comScore data.

Website October mobile and desktop unique visitors % of total unique visitors to real estate sites in October
zillow.com 47.4 million 48.0%
trulia.com 25.4 million 25.7%
realtor.com 22.6 million 22.9%

Source: comScore

In October, Zillow attracted almost twice as many visitors to its site than those who visited trulia.com and realtor.com combined.

Zillow’s lead over realtor.com will be something to watch as News Corp. takes control of realtor.com. News Corp. has already begun to integrate realtor.com into its media empire after closing its acquisition of the portal’s operator, Move Inc., in November.

Realtor.com contributes to News Corp.’s growing international real estate empire

Realtor.com might not be the only one set to get a boost as a member of News Corp.’s global real estate network.

News Corp. is set to roll out agent profiles to the Australian portal realestate.com.au, one of the real estate portals it has a stake in. Agent profiles have been a feature on Move’s realtor.com for years and a big focus for development. As set out in News Corp.’s acquisition of Move, REA Group itself now owns 20 percent of Move.

This suggests that innovation will not just flow from the global media giant to Move as already seen with the integration of content between realtor.com and some of News Corp.’s publications like The Wall Street Journal.

After taking a 25 percent stake in the operator of the Indian real estate portal PropTiger.com in late November, News Corp. now has stakes in four portals around the world: realtor.com in the U.S., realestate.com.au in Australia, iProperty in Southeast Asia and PropTiger.com in India.

News Corp.’s stakes in real estate portals around the world

Portal, country News Corp. stake in portal’s operator
realtor.com, U.S. 80%
realestate.com.au, Australia 61.6%
iProperty, Southeast Asia “Substantial stake”
PropTiger.com, India 25%

Source: News Corp.

It will be interesting to see if realtor.com can set itself apart from its competitors by accessing business insights and perspectives from around the world that its rivals don’t have.

Trulia’s chief marketing officer, director of industry marketing move on

Kira Wampler, Trulia’s relatively new chief marketing officer and the architect of the firm’s $45 million first-ever national consumer marketing campaign, has joined the ridesharing firm and Uber competitor Lyft as chief marketing officer.

Under Wampler’s direction, Trulia’s campaign targeted college-educated women 25 to 44 years old.


Trulia’s first national TV spot aired in March.

Trulia spokesman Matt Flegal said at the moment, the portal has no plans to bring someone in to replace Wampler, who joined Trulia last year. Flegal said that Wampler’s departure wasn’t related to Trulia’s pending merger with Zillow. But Trulia might not need its own marketing chief if the deal goes through.

Ginger Wilcox, Trulia’s director of industry marketing, is also moving on. Wilcox, who helped Trulia manage relationships with brokerages and multiple listing services, served three years at the portal. She has not revealed her plans.

Zillow holds yearly companywide meeting

Zillow held its yearly all-hands meeting, bringing some of its employees from its far-flung outposts to its Seattle headquarters. See one heart-thumping result from a short video posted by Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff.

Rascoff, along with Zillow co-founders Lloyd Frink and Rich Barton, addressed the troops as part of the event.

At a related event held in New York City, Zillow employees from its Lincoln, Nebraska, and Big Apple offices sat down for a high-energy session of speed networking.

Is this how Trulia and Zillow will begin their integration if their pending merger passes antitrust review by the Federal Trade Commission?

Newspaper giants’ real estate site lurks as a possible portal competitor

HomeFinder.com, the real estate search portal launched by newspaper giants Gannet Co. Inc., The McClatchy Co. and the Tribune Co. in 2009, has signed a deal that makes it easy for 55 additional media companies with more than 1,000 publications to use the platform to power online real estate searches on their own websites.

The deal opens HomeFinder.com up to receive traffic from some of the largest newspapers in the U.S. including The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Chicago Sun-Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Sacramento Bee and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Newspapers have seen ad revenue from real estate brokers and agents plummet in the last few years. Time will tell if their push to build out HomeFinder.com comes too late. HomeFinder.com President and CEO Doug Breaker wants to bring its Web traffic up to Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com levels.

Broker and agent ad dollars have been shifting from newspapers to online

Year Broker and agent estimated ad spend on newspapers (% of total) Broker and agent estimated ad spend online (% of total)
2011 $4.6 billion (34.0%) $6.5 billion (48.2%)
2014* $1.6 billion (11.9%) $10.3 billion (74.6%)

Source: Borrell Associates Inc. *Projected

RealEstate.com now points to Trulia’s home page

RealEstate.com, the former brokerage website resurrected by Market Leader in 2012 as a referral network, now redirects visitors to the website of Market Leader’s parent company, Trulia.

Market Leader paid $8.25 million for the domain in September 2011, and relaunched the site in 2012 with a controversial business model. Agents could “buy” cities and collect all the leads the real estate search site generated in each.

RealEstate.com displayed Internet data exchange (IDX) listings — the pooled listings brokers make available to each other — in over 150 markets, but didn’t provide brokerage services, making it effectively a “paper brokerage.”

When Trulia acquired Market Leader in August 2013, Trulia execs said they would shutter the site once existing ad contracts expired. Trulia retired the site in August and the URL now points users to trulia.com.

Zillow faces rare heat from lawsuits

Zillow’s sales office in Irvine, California, generated some rare negative publicity for the Seattle-based firm. The office was associated with separate lawsuits filed by two former Zillow employees.

The lawsuits, filed by the same Los Angeles-based law firm, Geragos & Geragos, accuse Zillow of promoting an environment that led to alleged incidents of sexual harassment and age discrimination.

Time, the Washington Post, CNN and Gawker were among the many news outlets to cover one or both lawsuits.

Two weeks ago, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff unleashed a string of tweets about how the way firms manage public relations crises has changed in the Twitter age. There are no tweets from him yet about the suits.

Move sues former vice president of industry development

Zillow wasn’t the only one busy with lawsuits recently.

Move filed a suit against its former vice president of industry development, Curt Beardsley, accusing him of violating prohibitions on insider trading. The lawsuit claims Beardsley dumped $224,000 worth of stock when he learned that former realtor.com President Errol Samuelson was planning to jump ship for Zillow, before the news went public. Beardsley joined Samuelson at Zillow just a few weeks later.

Move and the National Association of Realtors had previously sued Zillow and Samuelson, alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and misappropriation of trade secrets. The scope of Samuelson’s work at Zillow has been limited by a preliminary injunction issued in July.

Zillow set to expand its Seattle headquarters

Zillow, like Trulia, is set to expand its headquarters in the next couple of years.

The firm signed a lease to take up five more floors in the 42-story building in downtown Seattle that houses its current headquarters. By 2017, it will occupy 12 floors and 268,514 square feet of office space, making it the largest tenant in its building.

Exec stock sales

Each time execs at public firms sell company stock it gets reported to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Here’s who at the portals sold what and for how much in the two weeks since the last portal watch:

Who Company, title How many shares sold $ amount
Greg Schwartz Zillow, chief revenue officer 121.48 $128,647
Daniele Farnedi Trulia, chief technology officer 11,206 $549,575
Paul Levine Trulia, chief operating officer 20,000 $969,599

Source: insider-monitor.com

Note: Some Zillow, Trulia and Move execs are on programs to automatically sell stock they own each month at predetermined times. Stock sales do not necessarily reflect a lack in confidence by execs in their respective firms.

Video of the week

Zillow co-founder and Chairman Rich Barton, who serves as one of President Obama’s ambassadors for global entrepreneurship, has some advice for entrepreneurs: Dream big.

Stock activity

Share prices of all three portal operators rose slightly over the last two weeks. Zillow’s share price showed no noticeable effect from the negative publicity the company received with the recent lawsuits alleging serious flaws in its corporate culture.

Company Market cap* Share price* (% change from Nov. 21)
Zillow $4.68 billion $115.02 (3.2%)
Trulia $1.87 billion $49.25 (3.9%)
News Corp. $9.01 billion $15.23 (2.7%)

Source: Google Finance *As of market close on Friday Dec. 5, 2014

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