Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow, has been named the EY National Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2013 Services Award winner. The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award is the country's most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The award encourages entrepreneurial activity and recognizes leaders and visionaries who demonstrate innovation, financial success and personal commitment as they create and build world-class businesses.
Rascoff was recognized for overcoming initial industry reluctance to create a breakthrough service offering – Zillow, an online marketplace that empowers customers to make smarter decisions about real estate. He was honored at the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards gala, the culminating event of the EY Strategic Growth Forum® in Palm Springs, Calif. The Forum is the nation's premier gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies. Awards were given in 10 additional categories.
The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award winners were selected by an independent panel of judges and from more than 250 regional award recipients.
"Spencer's ability to see around corners to identify such a key need in the marketplace, and then create a credible service offering to satisfy that need, is the epitome of the word 'entrepreneur' and is what makes these high-growth companies truly the engines of our economy," said Bryan Pearce, EY Americas Director, Entrepreneur Of The Year.
With over 50 million current users and $90 million in venture capital, Zillow foresees a long and prosperous future — but it wasn't always like that. One of the biggest challenges when launching the internet database was assuring the real estate industry that, although Zillow empowers customers by providing access to information, they did not start the company to put real estate agents out of business. Once the real estate industry bought in to the company, Zillow soared.
"The team that started Zillow, including myself, is made up of the same folks who started Expedia," said Rascoff. "Expedia ruffled a lot of feathers in the travel industry by putting a lot of travel agents out of business. At Zillow, we had to explain that while we empower consumers by giving them access to information, we still believe real estate professionals play a crucial role in the industry."
Identifying a need
"We created Zillow in 2006 because it seemed like there was all this incredible information locked up in secret databases, but it wasn't readily available," said Rascoff. "We started with the Zestimate, an idea that there's a valuation on every home in the country, and we should endeavor to produce it on the website. In the last six years, we've added real estate listings, rental listings, mortgages and home improvement data."
Spencer joined Zillow as one if its founding employees in 2005 as Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Marketing and served as its Chief Operating Officer from October 2008 through to his promotion to CEO in September 2010, leading the company through its IPO in July 2011. Prior to his role as CEO and Director of Zillow, Spencer co-founded Hotwire.com in 1999, which was later sold to Expedia in 2003. Spencer then became Vice President of Lodging for Expedia, where he ran Expedia's largest and most profitable business line. Before his consumer web career, Spencer was a private equity investor at TPG Capital, and an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, and Allen & Company.
National Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 Services category finalists
In addition to Spencer, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Services finalists in the US were: Janice Bryant Howroyd, CEO, ACT-1 Group, Inc., based in Torrance, Calif.; Stephen Mooney, President and CEO, Conifer Health Solutions, based in Frisco, Texas; and T. Michael Riggs, Chairman, Jack Cooper Holdings, based in Kansas City, Mo.
About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world's most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The unique award makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 150 cities in over 60 countries.
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Source: Ernst & Young