Profile picture for Dunes ..

"Zillow:It's Not Just the Ridiculous Valuation-it’s the Ridiculous Business Model"

So what do the Pros.. the paying customers think about

The Report from Citron Research

Zillow (NASDAQ:Z): It's Not Just the Ridiculous Valuation—
it's the Ridiculous Business Model

Does it influence at all decisions about where to spend Ad dollars?

(Topics discussed in Report)

What Do Insiders Know That You Don't Know?

Zillow: A Business Whose Best Days are Behind it

Business Model: a Finite Audience, and a History of Failure

A Company Already in Decline: Visitor Growth Flagging

and much more

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September 26 2012 - US
We think we've answered this question for you!
 
 

Replies (51)

Profile picture for Pasadenan
Well, the stock sales on 9/7/12 of 137% of the initially sold number "public stock" shares, and 9/25/12 of 226% of the initial public stock shares... is certainly concerning, especially as we have no clue now how many shares are in the public domain...

But the stock values?  And business model?  And growth or lack of?  That all seems to be jealousy and conjecture to me.



full sized image to read the text:
http://photos1.zillow.com/is/image/i0/i15/i7907/IS-ghmmyorhz49p.jpg

They certainly don't seem to be acting any different than any other publicly traded company.  Price to earnings ratio has been distorted on most stocks for decades.
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September 26 2012
It doesn't matter, neither the Ridiculous Valuation nor the Ridiculous Business Model, the share holders want to see the Z stock value and it increased more than twice from lowest (in 52 weeks) to today Z stock value.

Like my employer didn't care neither my workmanship nor my moral. All he wants to see that I make a high quality product with a cheap price at the quickest time as possible.

http://www.google.com/finance?client=ob&q=NASDAQ:Z
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September 26 2012
Profile picture for Dunes ..
Pasa..
You don't have any clue how many shares are in the public domain doesn't mean no one else has a clue
and
"They certainly don't seem to be acting any different than any other publicly traded company" is a piss poor argument not a justification or explanation imo

White Picture
Everyone didn't buy low and is going to sell high and the point of the Report is Zillow is not concerned with being or producing a Quality product..They are interested in creating artificially high value for their Stock so they can cash in on it (Insider Trading)

Ridiculous Valuation.. Ridiculous Business Model
is absolutely important to anyone actually buying the stock..saying it isn't is Ridiculous
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September 26 2012
....... hey whatever happened to the Subitron or whatever guy ?
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September 26 2012
Profile picture for Dunes ..
Zillow banned him/her........

hey...why ya asking, what inspired the question?
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September 26 2012

....not every other post is 'ZILLOW SUCKS because' anymore, actual normal questions and answers...

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September 26 2012
Profile picture for Dunes ..
Yep...now just every other post/comment "SUCKS", back to normal ;)

Zillow hid the "every other post is 'ZILLOW SUCKS because" by creating the "Zillow Questions" Category so they don't appear on the Main page
(The so-called "All Topics" page this Post is on)

Still there just hidden..gotta click on Zillow Questions to find them or to find General Discussion, the Taverns, Zestimate Questions/complaints, User problem questions/complaints, Customer complaints problems ect.

Is posting this Citron Research Report and asking for feedback a "Zillow Sucks" post?

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September 26 2012

Yeh! Dunes...
It created a big problem for me since Zillow moves the Zillow related questions to the "Zillow Questions" Category. My wife used to evaluate my IQ by compare my thumb-ups to answers ratio, which turn out I'm day by day became stupider on the top of I'm already stupid. (probably not many posters know where are their questions going) and you know, the result is that why would on earth anybody loves the stupidity (me)?

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September 26 2012
Profile picture for Dunes ..
White Picture please tell your wonderful wife that Dunes thinks you are one of the most deserving of Thumbs up at Zillow 
You are a Top Ten honest, fair, willing to listen, civil and enjoyable contributors this site has....

You ain't stupid and usually only wrong when you disagree with me..Dunes the All-Knowing ;)

Thumbs up for White Picture
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September 26 2012
Dunes....
Not that I want to disagree with you but since we are not in a music band and it is so boring if there is only one way debate, Conversation, discussing (whatsoever, you name it!). If you are saying 'It is good time to buy', I'm gonna say 'No, it is bad time to buy'. And 5 minutes later you say 'It is bad time to buy', I'm gonna say 'Yes, it is good time to buy'.
Now let try, if you say 'Zillow is good' a hundred times, I am going to say 'Zillow is no good' one time as least!
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September 26 2012
Profile picture for Dunes ..
Zillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is good
Zillow is goodZillow is goodZillow isZillow is good goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is goodZillow is good
ect. ect.

I did notice I got 2 TU's for giving you 1 and saying you deserve more TU's...gonna have to do that more often ;)
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September 26 2012
See! Now You are stepping in my trap! 8)
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September 26 2012
Profile picture for hpvanc
Here are my somewhat random thoughts on the article:

Zillow's over reliance on Agent's for revenue has the potential to doom it.  If agents are the lions share of the advertising and the only way they can sell advertising to that group is intensive hard sell telemarketing then they are doomed.

The "ridiculous valuations," are part of Zillow's successful effort to draw readership.  Zillow has successfully positioned itself as a consumer centric media outlet, that alone is going to be seen by the sales people as infringing on their territory.  The need and demand for the information is great enough that even if Zillow and its current competitors fold, others will rush into the vacuum and try to monetize it.  Zillow has taken a more equitable stance than most other AVM's by refusing to remove Zestimates on request and on listed a properties, and that is a part of their success in attracting consumer readership.  Admittedly it is a finite audience, and hopefully there will continue to be competition for those readers, so it is not and never was a business with unlimited domestic growth potential.

Advertisers will go buy advertising on media that they hate or despise, if a significant enough number of their customers are reading it.  How many Premier Agents bad mouth Zestimates in the Zillow forums?  It definitely happens

As to the comments in the article about the quality and accuracy of the Zestimates, they have a see no evil, hear no evil, everyone should be happy and only acknowledge good news tone (ironic given the tone of the article).  All credibility was lost by implying that the Zestimates tend overwhelmingly low.  Agents and a subset of sellers aren't going to like it, but I think the writer significantly overestimates consumer dissatisfaction.  No valuation method is perfect, my experience is that CMA's are in general completely worthless, agents, many sellers, and some buyers are equally dissatisfied with both AVM values and professional appraisals.  All of them have problems, and all of them (with the exception of CMA's used as a personalized buy your business sales/marketing tool, there is no excuse for that ever) have their uses.
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September 26 2012
Profile picture for Pasadenan
"Pasa..
You don't have any clue how many shares are in the public domain doesn't mean no one else has a clue
" -

You are absolutely correct, and I could get a reasonable approximation by spending lots of time viewing the SEC-4 filings and tabulating them, but still doesn't give the counts for non-executive employee sales, all though those are admittedly a relatively negligible amount in comparison to executive sales and the recent additional "capital raising" sales.

But when I used the word "we" I was not referring to all potential investors.  However, last week I did post a question seeking the answer to the question of how many public shares of Zillow stock are in circulation, and only one person bothered to answer, and their answer didn't even come close to addressing all the addition shares that have been transferred to the public sector.  By "we", I was intending to imply those that regularly participate in the Zillow forum, not some investor somewhere that hasn't published their summary in a place that it can readily be found.
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September 26 2012
Profile picture for Pasadenan
From the supplemental prospectus 424 B5, filed 9/7/12, Zillow was offering for sale 3.425 million NEW shares of class A stock, as well as 575k shares of shares held by company executives, each for a price of $43.

I believe that sale of 4 million shares did take place on 9/25/12, but I have not confirmed that.  But 7.925 million shares traded hands on that day, so it easily could have included the 4 million shares, of which 3.425 million were "new" shares.

It was not only the business model of "advertisement revenue base" that discouraged me from buying Zillow stock, but also this potential for "watering down" share values by the random increase of additional shares that made it too hard to determine any real asset value other than "speculation" and "bubble economics".

Still, I knew I should have purchased some shares when it was down at $22 or $23 per share last December and January, but I procrastinated and missed out.
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September 26 2012
Profile picture for Dunes ..
Just to clarify

It wasn't an article it was a Report/recommendation to people who do buy Stocks/Shares. Citron is paid attention to..Link

even internationally ;)

Citron质疑美国房产网站Zillow:估值离谱


But of course not all analysts agree
Zillow stock did fall immediately following this report....if it will have more than a short-term impact I don't claim to know but feel it's safe to say Zillow will be looked at a lot closer by many

Zillow's Response..none I'm aware of yet but thinking due to the publicity there will be one. So far several news agencies ect. I've looked at say they asked Zillow for a response and received "No Comment" replies

Me..I think Citron is far more..Right on.. than in error
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September 27 2012
Profile picture for Dunes ..
And I do appreciate the opinions/feedback
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September 27 2012
Profile picture for Pasadenan
Considering how many obviously false statements were made in that report, I really wouldn't consider it much of a recommendation for or against anything.

Zillow's primary source of revenue is not Real Estate Agent premier status subscriptions, it is about equally divided between premier agents, confirmed lenders (robo-quoters), and general advertisers, such as Newspapers, auto sales, home improvement stores, water bottlers, etc.

And Zillow's turn over rate is not anywhere near what they imply, especially if one looks at the confirmed lender status.

And Zillow doesn't get syndication from most of the MLS's but primarily from syndicating websites that agents post on.

It also should be pointed out that Zillow uses a different source for its unique visitor count, using Google Analytics instead, and they post 36.3 million unique IP address visitors in August 2012, which is a 44% year over year increase, which is quite a bit different than the posted charts in the report.  Yes, of course we know those unique IP addresses don't represent a count of unique people, as many of the mobile devices have separate IP addresses, and the primary growth this past year has been in the mobile devices, which seems to have been completely overlooked by the report.  (Not to mention, users are logging in at home, at school, in the library, at coffee shops and at work, so there is a magnification of unique IP addresses throughout, but other than the mobile devices, that spread of IP addresses has been pretty consistent since inception.)  There is good reason to believe the source used for IP address count in the report excluded much of the mobile device connections.



As for why the stock value drop recently???  I don't think it has anything at all to do with the Citron report, was due to the additional saturation of share sales.  That happens any time one floods the market with additional shares.  It will correct for most of that.

But in the long run, Zillow needs to start paying more attention to getting the bugs out of the site, and more attention to answering the questions from the users about the site.  It is simple to fix if they would readjust their priorities.  If they don't, Trulia will be taking more of their market share.

But other than Case/Shiller and Core Logic, and Data Quick, Zillow is still one of the few providing market index trends for a wide selection of market regions.  I still think their trending and forecasting is one of their strong sales points, as well as the mortgage rate trends, that are much more "real time" than anything one can get from Freddie or Fannie, or numerous other sources.  The delay for ZMM averages is about 3 hours from the rate sheets rather than 1 to 2 weeks.
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September 27 2012
Profile picture for Dunes ..
I do not agree with your..obviously
but perhaps others will
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September 27 2012
Profile picture for hpvanc
Zillow is badly in need of diversifying their revenue base.  Did any of you read the Motley Fool comments on it here and here?

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September 27 2012
Profile picture for Pasadenan
The diversification of revenue issue is supposedly one of the reasons they recently opened a branch office in Orange County California, (to attract the Automobile industry and the Entertainment industry, as well as reduce their phone charges).

I'm still convinced they are putting their money in the wrong place.  They need to spend time on improving the quality and reliability of their product if they expect to continue to attract customers.  Good products sell themselves.  Excellent products create market share.  Yes, it was well worth their time and effort investing in mobile applications.  But they still fundamentally need to address the issues on the website, even for such little things as getting the Birds Eye Views from Microsoft Bing to work correctly on the home details pages.

I still do not understand why the number of Zillow confirmed lenders and Zillow premier agents is disproportionately high in California relative to the population than all the other states.
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September 27 2012
Yeah, I don't care. 
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September 27 2012
Profile picture for Dunes ..
Thanks for stopping by to confirm what I already knew ;)
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September 27 2012
Profile picture for Dunes ..
"Zillow Inc. a real estate website, fell the most in more than 10 months after disclosing that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission asked the company to respond to questions about how it reported revenue."
Zillow Falls After Saying SEC Questioned Financial Report

What I actually found most interesting was...

"Separately, the SEC also asked Zillow to disclose the number of unique users by domain name for different websites the company operates, including Zillow.com and RentJuice.com, according to a second letter released in a regulatory filing."

So when we see the 30+ million views Marketing, the views increase blah blah %
1. we are talking about this Site?
2. or this site plus Rentjuice plus postlets plus..?
... A combined total of views for several Sites/Domains?

Does anyone actually know?



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October 02 2012
Profile picture for Pasadenan
I do not know the answer to that question... the reference on the advertising page implies just "Zillow" and "Yahoo Real Estate".  That is the info the "advertisers" are interested in.

The footnote indicates "internal" from "Google analytics".  From the adblocker, Google analytics is a script page loaded, except I have it blocked.  I assume that means it is not counting me.  When I turn scripts off, it doesn't show Google analytics at all.  I assume that means they are not counting a lot of I.P. addresses.

Postlets also indicates a similar reference to the Google analytics script, and also doesn't reference that page when scripts are off.  It appears unlikely to me that most Postlets users would not also use Zillow to check their syndication.  Regardless, it appears Postlets would be a relatively small number of users compared to Zillow.

RentJuice is not showing Google analytics, but is showing a different analytics system...
http://analytics.performable.com/__ptq.gif
This is showing up as a GIF image with no image, but lots of parameters are being passed to the URL.  Since they are using a different analytics system, it appears they do have a count of some kind, and that they are not combining it with the Zillow count for the Zillow count reference.

But no confirmation.
Other than the SEC's recent complaint, I don't believe there is any requirement for how they are to do their analytics.  And all analytics are approximations anyway, based on numerous assumptions, most of which are not described in detail for the public.
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October 02 2012
Profile picture for Dunes ..
Yes "all analytics are approximations" but supposedly in the ballpark approximations and I hope we are not suggesting the number claimed is unimportant...

It's been important in their Marketing (Agents should list here..we have X viewers), press releases claims (Most used, most viewed), doubled Unique views in blah blah ect

Zillow Advertising Solutions Page
"Zillow Audience"
Monthly unique users...36.3 million
Year over year growth...44 %

Sales is about the number..the claim of Audience. share of those looking
If the number is not what is claimed/suggested/pushed some imo might consider that important

At this point I'm just curious and wonder if anyone really knows if the 36.3 million is actually for this Site alone


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October 03 2012
Profile picture for Dunes ..
and BTW

Not trying to be difficult so apologies if it seems I am...

Simply...
The #1 RE site claim seems to be important ;)
The claim #1 seems to be based on Unique views
Sales seem to be based on we have the most views so buy our subscriptions/zip codes/ads cause the largest potential for leads is here not Realtor.com or Trulia or or

So curious about the claim based on the statement referred to
May be a simple innocent explanation..like
NO..the 36.3 million is truly only unique views for this Site..they meant something else

Just wondered if any actually "knew" or could show it's the simple explanation
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October 03 2012
Profile picture for Pasadenan
Considering how they are "approximating" 30 day changes to Zestimates for individual homes...  , I'm sure there are "issues" with the estimated number of unique I.P. addresses accessing this site.

In the past, Zillow published it was COMBINED "Yahoo Real Estate" and "Zillow.com".  It doesn't indicate that any more, so "MAYBE" it is "combined", and maybe it is by itself.  The issue for me is "consistency".  Yes, I would also like them to publish what the number really represents, but the tech people seem to have difficulty explaining that to the marketing people to write up something the public can use.

I see we both referenced the same Zillow page in our posts... 
But if you click on "see more audience details", it also states:
For more study details, please contact fieldsales@zillow.com

Maybe they will give the details, maybe they will put the request on someone's computer's inbox to sit for 25 months...

And then there are the "closely related" websites that are also part of Zillow, such as:
http://zillowacademy.com/

And do these sub-pages count if the user never looks at any homes or the forum threads?:
http://www.zillow.com/blog/
http://zillow.mediaroom.com/
http://www.zillow.com/jobs/
http://investors.zillow.com/

Advertisers probably don't care so much about those page views, but it could depend on what they are advertising.  Certainly a "premier agent" doesn't care if people are looking at Zillow's blog or media room and ignoring everything else.  It doesn't give them any marketing exposure.

Regardless, the I.P. address users to sites like Postlets is negligible compared to the tolerance range used for the "analytics", thus whether they include them or not is not going to significantly change the numbers, unless they are counting the same I.P. address twice for using two sites, which I think would be "out of line", but still highly possible considering their carelessness on other issues.

I still want them to count "registered users", and only count I.P addresses for non-registered users as a "supplement".  But I've asked at least 20 times in the past 4 years, and they don't seem to have any intention of trying to get "more useful numbers".  And still, the registered users can be redundant, as two people in the same household can have the same I.P. address and both be using the website.  But I still think the I.P. address count is inflated from "actual users" by about a factor of 3 times... due to Home, Work, Coffee shop, Library, School, I-phone, android, and other mobile devices.

I also have this strange impression that the "marketing" department is going to pick and choose the numbers that look better for them, regardless of any statistics the tech people manage to provide.

It seems like you should ask Russ and Spencer to look into it.  But I highly doubt we will get any useful response in any timely manner.
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October 03 2012
Profile picture for Dunes ..
Here's the only response I've seen by Zillow..doesn't mean there are not are others

"The agency also asked Zillow if it ought to disclose such metrics as the number of ads delivered, the average price per ad, and average revenue per user, as well as the number of unique users by domain name for the company's different websites, such as zillow.com and Rentjuice.com.

Zillow said in response that it would discuss average monthly Premier Agent revenue per Premier Agent subscriber in its future reports, and make some other minor changes in its disclosures.

But the company demurred on most of the SEC's other points, saying such data either was not meaningful or could already be calculated from its current disclosures"

Seattle Times.

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October 03 2012
Profile picture for Pasadenan
I would like to know specifically what percentage of Zillow's revenue comes from:
http://ad.doubleclick.net/

It appears to me, that Zillow has had 3 of the ads from this "outside source" on every page on Zillow since Zillow started.

I block them, but the adblocker still indicates the URL if looking at the details.

And then two "gutter ads" on Zillow.com/ads page also reference ad.doubleclick.net, so maybe there are even 5 ads from outside sources on Zillow?

So, a pie chart for revenue source would be nice:
1) Platinum Premier Agents
2) Gold Premier Agents
3) Silver Premier Agents
4) Agent Showcase ads
5) Confirmed lender robo-quoter contacts
6) Incentive program advertisements
7) ad.doubleclick.net advertisements
8) Newspaper advertisements/sponsorships on the search maps
9) Global advertisements from national chains (Propel water??)
10) Other "targeted" advertisements from other kinds of business
11) Other revenue not included above. (Patent royalties...)

If it were so easy to get a complete breakdown of revenue source as an outside party, I would have already done it.  It is not in the SEC annual accounting.
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October 03 2012
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