For the latest episode of Zonda’s Inspirational Leadership with the Best in Home Building podcast, host Mollie Carmichael chatted with Spencer Rascoff, former CEO and co-founder of Zillow, the co-founder of Hotwire, and many other successful ventures.
Rascoff was an entrepreneur from an early age. He remembers his father leaving a very secure job in accounting for a risky new career as a tour producer for the Rolling Stones. From his father, he learned that taking risks isn’t so dangerous after all, and it’s well worth the chance.
Here are some additional highlights from the episode:
On Growing Up
“I was entrepreneurial. I started a baking business where I would bake cookies and other snacks and sell them to neighbors and family friends. I would trace art and sell the tracings to my parents. So, I was always excited about trying to make money and trying to start businesses.”
On His First Startup
“Expedia was started inside of Microsoft in the late '90s and then spun out and became a public company. My first startup was called Hotwire, which we started in 1999. We sold it to Expedia for about $700 million. I moved up to Seattle to work at Expedia, and I ran the hotel business at Expedia. I'd been there for about two years, and I had an entrepreneurial itch. I wanted to do another startup. I didn't really want to work at a big company.”
On Establishing Zillow
“There was nothing out there that prioritized the consumer, everything else back then prioritized the real estate professional, the brokerage sites, the lead gen sites, etc. They all prioritized the industry, and so we felt that we could take some of the same Expedia and Hotwire DNA, which was to prioritize the consumer and provide information transparency, and that's where the idea for Zillow was born.”
On Zillow’s Successes
“The key reasons that Zillow succeeded: I'd say No. 1 was the consumer orientation. No. 2 was the extraordinary team that we were able to build. A lot of those early folks came from Expedia and Hotwire, but obviously the team expanded far beyond that. I think No. 3, there were surely some timing advantage and in particular, we benefited from the financial crisis.”
On His Newest Adventure
“The way Pacaso works is we fractionalize homes, and we let people experience them through co-ownership. We sell them in eighths. Some people buy 2/8 or 3/8, but 1/8 equates to about six weeks a year. Pacaso does the property management for the home. You schedule your visits to your home through the Pacaso app ,and then we have owner lockers on property where you can keep all your stuff in storage.”
Tune in to Inspirational Leadership with the Best in Home Building to learn more about Rascoff, the birth of Hotwire and Zillow, his achievements, and what he would have done differently.
Also, click back to hear from the leaders in the last five podcast episodes, which feature Joan Webb, New Home Co.'s former chief marketing officer; Mike Forsum, president and COO at Landsea Homes; Eric Lipar, CEO and chairman of LGI Homes; Ross Perot Jr., chairman of The Perot Group and Hillwood; and Ryan Marshall, president and CEO at PulteGroup.