Oh boy. Dustin Luther at 4Realz just dug up some old dirt in Zillow’s Cellar. Definitely some good weekend reading in their 2005 patent application where they describe their vision of an online auction tool for real estate listings.
For some reason though, as I was reading his post, Dustin’s use of the word ‘marketplace’ tweaked something in me. And then I remembered what it was. Rich Barton in his interview with me on InmanTV had said that too, that his vision for Zillow was for it to become, in his words, “a vibrant real estate marketplace” (about 5:10 in to the piece).
Marketplace, by definition, implies some sort of transactional nature. I’m not sure why I didn’t pick up on this at the time.
Despite many recent and repeated denials that they are just a media company – the patent application reminds us Zillow clearly at one time had eyes on, as Dustin puts it, “playing a central role in the real estate transaction”.
The question is, do they still have eyes on a piece of the proverbial ‘transaction pie’ as part of their product roadmap? Moreover, do they have time they need to execute on it (see Put Pen to Paper – Zillow Predictions Anyone?)?