Technology

Market Leader for sale if you want to buy a software company

Zillow seen as sticking to its plan to be a media company and possibly sell Market Leader

Zillow is sending around a “memo” in an attempt to unload Market Leader, the software company that Trulia bought two years ago for $355 million in cash and stock.

Zillow inherited Market Leader in its acquisition of Trulia, and one source who saw the “memo” said that this confirms that Zillow wants to stick to its plan to be a media company. I am not sure that is the reason.

So who might want this technology? Anyone who needs back-end software to manage leads. But it has limitations, as it is not yet a powerful market automation system that everyone in real estate needs but does not know that they need it yet. They will soon.

Keller Williams would be a likely buyer since it partnered with Market Leader a couple of years ago. But not sure KW is capitalized to pay the big dollars that Zillow probably wants. NRT is another potential acquirer, but Realogy just got ZipRealty, which in some ways has more robust and relevant technology.

With no obvious buyers, the ultimate acquirer will probably get a good deal. That is my innocent guess from the cheap seats.

When Trulia bought Market Leader in May 2013, the company said the acquisition would bring total premium subscribers to 46,000 — more than any other real estate website — and eventually result in a “combined platform that creates value for the entire real estate market, from consumers to brokerages, agents and franchisors.”

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Today, a few things have changed. Better software may be out there, and integration was hard for Trulia and may be difficult for others. If it was integrated successfully, Zillow would not be trying to sell it.

Integrating companies is like getting married -- not easy at all."

Which brings up the question about how the Z and T marriage is going. Weddings are so wonderful and sweet and romantic. But then comes the living together, the blending and other tough stuff.

Integrating companies is the same — not easy at all. Even super smart people can blow this challenge.

Loud talk

A 30-something, MBA-looking, goatee-wearing, 6-foot-plus guy on his phone at San Francisco Airport just now, talking loudly on his phone as he pranced through SFO: “Yeah, get the deck ready and make sure you put the slide on Redfin in there.” I am stalking the dude now, will let you know what else I hear and promise to tweet it.

Does he work for a banker? An investor? A Redfin competitor? A new startup that wants to eat Redfin’s lunch? Got it: He is a homebuyer who puts his entire life in PowerPoint decks and orders his wife around preparing slide shows. He seemed like that kind of guy.

Disrupter chatter

Last week, a big-shot industry executive ripped me a new one for always encouraging disrupters and being anti-franchise and anti-broker.

I plead guilty to the first charge. On the second one, I think he was having a bad day and took his foul mood out on me. Whatever. We are in the news business — no one loves me for too long.

Now back to my point. Disrupters. Why do I love them?

It is so American to start a business, thinking to yourself and telling others that you are going to do it differently than everyone else. That is how Dave Liniger did it, how Gary Keller got started, and how so many brokers started a new business. Who did not begin that way? Well, how about some corporate CEOs who never started anything and who complain about how unfair the world is to them? The same guys who elbow their way onto the airplane mumbling, “I am first-class, I am first-class.”

Now I am in trouble. Have a great weekend.

Onward!

Email Brad Inman.