Some people have the Midas touch, touching everything and turning it into gold, and Rich Barton can count himself lucky to be among them. He has been the brains behind Expedia, Glassdoor, and Zillow, and despite the success, his wife had to make him promise that he would not start anything new again. However, for a person whose company boasts of having the most popular app in real estate, it is only natural that Rich’s mind keeps wondering what to do next to give power to the people. If you are keen on real estate, you might have noticed Zillow’s logo changed last year but do you even know how Rich came up with the company name? Here’s how Zillow was founded.
Once an Entrepreneur, Always an Entrepreneur
In 2014, Barton responded to a mum who was worried that her son was interested in pursuing his entrepreneurial ideas instead of looking for a job. Rich told her that entrepreneurship teaches one to be responsible, and building a career does not necessarily mean working in a company. He gave the example of his father, who studied for a chemical engineering degree and worked at a plastics company for 34 years. According to Rich, building a career means acquiring skills by doing what you are passionate about until you have enough in your arsenal to do something greater like maybe launching your own company.
Rich put this principle into practice since he was a young boy. The minute he got his driving skills, he utilized them by driving an ice-cream truck for his first business. Rich gained his skills on the job regarding which route was the most profitable, how to price the product to earn a profit, and buy enough stock to keep his customers coming for more. Within two years, he had moved from the ice-cream selling business to a golf country club working as a caddy. By the time he was in college, Rich did not need to have his parents footing all his expenses; while they paid tuition, Rich made enough money to cover his upkeep. He used to spend summer vacation painting people’s houses. When the company he was working for became greedy and asked for a significant cut of the profit margins he made, Rich had had enough, so he started his own company.
Having tasted the freedom that comes with being his own boss and with a mind that is always racing, Rich did not stay long at Microsoft before deciding to start another company within the company. While at Microsoft, he thought about a travel company, Expedia, and floated the idea to Bill Gates. Although Rich wanted to leave and establish the company outside of Microsoft, Bill Gates encouraged him to build it while still within Microsoft. It was an impressive concept that helped Rich convince Microsoft to invest $100 million in the company. It launched on the internet in 1996 and was successful enough to acquire two competitors. In 2003, Expedia was acquired, and Rich resigned as both CEO and president effective March 31, 2003.
Zillow Comes to Life
Rich said that while he and Lloyd Frink were shopping for houses, they felt disempowered. There was so little information on the net regarding housing; hence they had to hire a professional who was still quite stingy with information. Since they were still trying to come up with a new business idea now that Rich had resigned from Expedia, it hit them that they should have a place where people can access information about real estate. Although Lloyd was gravitating towards an idea similar to what Dropbox is today, Rich is glad they decided to follow the real estate route.
They were thinking of different URL ideas, and they did not have a lot of money to spare. Rich explained that going with something like “homes.com” would cost them a lot of money, yet they did not want their budget to go above $10. Therefore, as they were drunk and brainstorming of all different words they would combine, one from an emotional side and another from a data side, they had “zillion” and “pillows.” Consequently, “Zillows” was born, and they paid $9.99 on GoDaddy.com for the URL.
At first, people were apprehensive about what Zillow was offering. By 2016, Zillow was proud of being the largest real estate media firm worldwide, with over 2,000 employees and more than 140 million users on the apps and site. Although Rich Barton had handed over the reins to Spencer Bascoff to be the CEO, in February 2019, Rich took back the CEO position. He holds the largest stake in the company; his stake is worth $700 million, while Zillow had a $9.5 billion market cap, as of July 2019.
Zillow Logo Changes
1000logos details the evolution of the logo over the years. At first, in 2004 was “Zillow, LLC.” While “Zillow” was black, “LLC” was in grey. They must have realized that it barely communicated to the customer what the company was all about, so they changed in 2006 to a much more communicative logo. It had a house icon that was half grey and half blue with “Z” in the middle. To its right were the words “Zillow.com” also in the same shade of blue as the house icon, while below it were the words “Your Edge in Real Estate,” although they were barely visible.
In 2008, there was also a slight change to the 2006 logo; besides making the slogan “Your Edge in Real Estate” more visible, the house icon’s size was also enlarged, and so was “Zillow.” Another tweak was the removal of “.com.” ” On April 2, 2019, Zillow unveiled a new logo, which, according to Inman was supposed to bring simplicity and joy to the home-finding process. The house icon’s colors changed from blue and green to bright blue. They also got rid of “Your Edge in Real Estate” and brightened the shade of blue in “Zillow,” too.