Real estate site Zillow has roughly 150 employees today and 100 of them are information technology workers. It takes a lot of folks to maintain a database with data on 33 million homes--and counting.
Zillow CFO Spencer Rascoff presented at the Kelsey Group's Interactive Local Media conference Wednesday in Philadelphia and noted how Zillow's database is becoming more complicated as it moves from a read-only tool to one where users can edit their listings. In many respects, Zillow is starting to look a little more like Wikipedia in terms of content. It has also opened up its APIs.
Zillow's database runs on Microsoft's SQL, a fact that isn't all that surprising given that many of the company's employees hail from Expedia, which was once a Microsoft venture. One switch for Zillow's developers was using Java from Microsoft's tools, says Rascoff.
Among other tidbits:
--Rascoff said traffic on Zillow has been well above expectations, but "monetization has been slower than we've liked." The problem: "It's a lot harder to hire a direct sales team than we've thought," says Rascoff.
--When asked how Zillow will fare in a housing bust, Rascoff replied "we're not sure yet."
--Nationwide 62 percent of Zillow's home price estimates (known as Zestimates) are within 10 percent of an actual sales price.