Zillow co-founder Rich Barton back as CEO, Spencer Rascoff out

Massive leadership change announced amid earnings and Zillow's foray into direct-to-consumer homebuying

Zillow co-founder Rich Barton is stepping back into the reins as CEO, replacing Spencer Rascoff, the real estate tech giant announced amid its fourth quarter 2018 corporate earnings release.

Rich Barton, co-founder and CEO of Zillow Group

Barton, who co-founded Zillow in 2005, was replaced by Rascoff after stepping down as CEO in 2010. He has maintained an active role as executive chairman of the company since stepping down.

Rascoff, who oversaw Zillow through its initial public offering (IPO) and managed more than 15 acquisitions, will remain on the company’s board of directors.

Zillow co-founder Lloyd Frink, who stepped down from his role as president at the same time as Barton, has been named the new executive chairman.

“We decided to rotate seats a bit, and Spencer will step out of day to day but continue as an indispensable advisor and overseer on our board of directors,” Barton told Inman in an email.

Under Rascoff’s leadership, Zillow has grown to more than 4,000 employees.

Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff 2018 Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit

Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff | Credit: John Lamparski/Getty Images

“Leading Zillow Group through its tremendous growth has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” Rascoff said in a prepared statement. “I couldn’t be prouder of the team and what we have accomplished together, and I will continue my deep involvement with Zillow Group as a board director and major shareholder.”

At the beginning of the year, Zillow announced plans to expand its direct-to-consumer homebuying and re-selling service, Zillow Offers, to five more cities.

Zillow first launched the platform in Phoenix last April and has since grown to Las Vegas, AtlantaDenverCharlotte and Raleigh. It also plans to come to Riverside, California, as well as Houston and Dallas, in 2019. The company said that it currently receives one Zillow Offers request every five minutes.

The real estate giant has also been running tests placing its own for-sale homes at the top of its namesake home search portal Zillow.com and mobile apps.

“I want to be clear, though: Premier Agent is as important to us as ever,” Barton wrote to Inman.

Barton continued: “Our partnership with PAs is critical. First, they are the backbone of our business. Second, we know that while Zillow Offers is going to be interesting to lots of consumers, it won’t be to everyone. Those consumers will need fantastic agents who are partners, not just advertisers. That’s PA.”

Since the launch of Zillow Offers, Wall Street has been skeptical of the program and Zillow’s efforts to get closer to the real estate transaction. Stocks tumbled after Zillow’s initial announcement of the iBuyer program and its purchase of Mortgage Lenders of America, a lender, last year.

This week, StreetEasy, the New York City-focused homes search website owned by Zillow, has suffered a data breach, putting roughly one million of its accounts at risk of being hacked. Company spokesperson Lauren Riefflin told Inman that the breach did not affect the parent company.

Developing…

Email Veronika Bondarenko