How the world’s top real estate portals think about innovation

What Zillow Group, REA Group and Rightmove are doing to drive change
  • Innovation keeps global property portals humming, but the way firms practice innovation differs.
  • Execution is the critical factor of innovation, not dreaming big.
  • Invest in innovation to see results.

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Innovation is a tricky, vital component for every firm, and the world’s largest real estate portals are no exception. I thought a lot about innovation during my four-year tenure as head of strategy at New Zealand’s leading property portal, Trade Me. Much of my time centered on identifying and growing new ventures. When I joined the business in 2012, it had about 300 employees. I used to say there were 299 people focused on growing the existing business and one (me) focused on growing new lines of business. That was a big portion of my attraction to Trade Me and the role in the first place. I was intrigued by the idea of running a “conveyor belt of growth,” as the job description stated. I quickly learned that innovation at a large, publicly-traded business is vital, for reasons I didn’t fully realize until years later. Why is innovation important? Many assume, of course, that innovation is important at a big corporate entity -- but they rarely ask why. The answe...