Zillow replaces CEO amid disappointing short-term earnings results

by Ryan Smith24 Feb 2019

Longtime Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff is stepping down to make way for Rich Barton, who served as the real estate site’s first CEO. Barton and Rascoff, and Lloyd Frink co-founded Zillow in 2005. The three had previously founded the travel company Expedia.

The change was announced Thursday afternoon, along with a quarterly earnings report that showed short-term earnings below market expectations, according to a Bloomberg report.

Zillow has expanded its business in new directions in recent years, including buying and selling homes directly. That transformation has been met with skepticism from investors, and Zillow’s shares declined 46% between June and last week.

Handing Barton the company reins “so that my voice is out at front during the period of extreme evangelism seemed like the right thing,” Barton told Bloomberg. “I’m hoping our investors think it’s the right thing. I know many of our investors; they’ve known me from the beginning. They’ve invested with me with Expedia and other companies as well. They’re used to me pointing at the moon and saying, ‘I want to go step on that thing.’”

Among Zillow’s “moonshot” plans is Zillow Offers, a service launched in April that allows customers to sell their homes directly to Zillow. Barton told Bloomberg that the service has proved very popular, with customers asking for offers on their homes roughly every five minutes.

“It’s like advertising free beer at a college party,” he said.

Rascoff will remain on Zillow’s board, Bloomberg reported.