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Trulia Secures Additional $15M – AG Exclusive

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Who Invested?

Deep Fork Capital LLC led the financing with existing prior lead investors Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners and Fayez Sarofim and Co. also participating. Trulia.com has now raised a total of $33M in Venture Capital.

What Will Funding Mean?

Trulia will use this round of funding to further its development of new products and services for homebuyers, agents, brokers and advertisers and to expand their advertising services for the recently launched Trulia Advertising Network and self service offering, Trulia Pro.

Trulia is now helping approximately 5 million unique visitors per month find information on homes for sale using custom search criteria and, according to comScore, now ranks as the seventh most trafficked real estate site on the Web (April 2008) with annual growth of over 325%.

Pete Flint, co-founder and CEO of Trulia said, “this additional capital will help us take advantage of this opportunity and continue our accelerated growth. This market is also a unique time to help real estate brokers and agents transition their marketing efforts and services online. In the coming year, we plan to roll out world-class products that will continue to transform the online real estate experience.”

Okay, And…?

To give you an idea of the scope of this investment, think about this- all the news last month was about a major investment into the insanely popular social media giant,Twitter… for $15M. Although Trulia is a different product altogether, the buzz will be huge about this round of investment because the investment pool seems cautious in the real estate space and many companies are having a tougher time sniffing out investment, Trulia goes out and hits a homerun.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Frank Jewett

    July 10, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    AG exclusive? Trulia issued a press release.

    https://info.trulia.com/index.php?s=43&item=42

  2. Ben Martin, Va Assn of REALTORS

    July 10, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    It’s gonna be one heckuva party next week!

  3. Cyndee Haydon

    July 10, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    That’s great news for Trulia – it will be interesting to see what they do with that cash infusion.

  4. Jessie B

    July 10, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Interesting news, especially if you read the agent comments from the previous post “Is free..” where most seem to be more focused on investing money and time into their own online presence.

    Taking more capital means increased urgency to get to profitablity and with the obvious RE community attitude from the comments… monetizing T via agents in the future probably won’t get easier.

  5. Benn Rosales

    July 10, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Jessie, the base is free, but the pricing model becomes the additional addon incentives they’ll offer over time, such as targeted ads to your markets and other things they’ll dream up…

  6. Rudy from Trulia.com

    July 10, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    @ Frank – Agent Genius had the real estate blogger exclusive on this one 🙂
    @ Ben – See you at the Trulia house party!
    @ Cyndee – we’ll see…
    @ Jessie – See my comment on that post 🙂

    Rudy
    Social Media Guru at Trulia

  7. Brian Wilson

    July 10, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    All I have to say is that Trulia better have a killer party at Inman now…

  8. Jonathan Dalton

    July 10, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    ATTENTION VENTURE CAPITALISTS: I’ve come to realize I’m looking at real estate all wrong. I’ve been busy selling homes and worrying less about career moves and the extensive ancillary opportunities for capital that have nothing to do with actually selling real estate.

    In recognition of this epiphany, I would welcome any venture capital that would like to be tossed me way to allow me to expand the offering at AllPhoenixRealEstate.com. Any rumors that the money will be spent on $2.25 pints at Rock Bottom is pure myth … though my best ideas usually come after the fourth such purchase.

    Please reply c/o AG should you decide to finance my real estate career. My soul can be had for a check with enough zeroes correctly placed on the left side of the decimal point.

  9. Rudy from Trulia.com

    July 10, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Come on JD, a pint? Having had a few cervezas w/ you before, we all know you like the grande cervezas 🙂

    Rudy

  10. Jessie B

    July 10, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Benn… totally understand but also realize that this is no different than the 10 yr. old REALTOR.com model. Uploading of listings is free but you have to pay to be featured. The is the arm of the R business that is losing traction.

    The 10 billion in traditional offline advertising was spent mostly to advertise individual listings which is dynamic in nature. In 2.0 advertising listings is free just about everywhere so the real cash cow has already been tapped. So to monetize they are offering ads based on local markets as Rudy indicated or?

    This issue I see is that the model has a finite amount of possiblities of monetizing because there is only so many “markets” and “agents” and the number of markets is not dynamic in nature like listings. In other words… once I’m paying to advertise in La Jolla, CA… that ad inventory is sold. The only way to increase revenue on a finite commodity “la jolla” is to A) charge more B) place more ads on same page or C) come up with more ad inventory with additional ways to view “la jolla” real estate listings, which is how I interpret Petes comments.

    That being said… do you think agents will be willing to pay to advertise listings in the future as they did in the past with newspapers once the various future options have been tapped?

  11. Ken Smith

    July 10, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Great they have more money to use to figure out ways to get into agents pocket books and become even stronger competitors.

  12. Frank Jewett

    July 10, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Jonathan, perhaps Inman is looking for a “local promoter” (the old pro wrestling business model) to stage a Real Estate Connect conference in your area. Don’t let Jay beat you to it! The ConRush is on!

  13. Eric- New Orleans Condos and Lofts

    July 10, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    I would have to guess a large share of their profits are going to come from realtors. Does anyone know how their business model is suppose to profit. Ads, realtors and vendors. Are they going to have their own bank?

  14. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 11, 2008 at 5:49 am

    I have a feeling you won’t see their “full business model for profit” until after they get enough real estate agents to furnish them free content/links to make them #1 for most searches.

    Between the additional $15 mill, and most real estate agents being oblivious that Trulia is actually a competitor for search engine visibility, and are actually helping them to rank – we shouldn’t have to wait too long to see.

  15. Eric Blackwell

    July 11, 2008 at 5:56 am

    Yeah guys…party it up and THEN when Trulia comes into your pockets THEN be preapared to start bitchin about the trade offs you’ve made….you won’t have a hypocritical leg to stand on because the cerveza tasted great at the time…nice…

    How about taking a longer term view of what the venture capital TRULY means?

    Landlord 1 Industry 0

  16. Jim Duncan

    July 11, 2008 at 5:58 am

    @JessieB – excellent observation. The parallels between RDC and Trulia are striking.

  17. Mike Taylor

    July 11, 2008 at 6:27 am

    “Great they have more money to use to figure out ways to get into agents pocket books and become even stronger competitors.”

    I couldn’t agree more Ken. It drives me nuts when news like this is celebrated as some sort of boon for real estate agents. No matter how they spin it, Trulia is our competition.

  18. Rudy from Trulia.com

    July 11, 2008 at 7:27 am

    Trulia makes its money through advertising, not lead generation. We provide a platform to help enhance your business and to help you connect directly with home buyers and sellers. It’s your choice whether you use us or not.

    I am pasting my earlier comment from the “free” AG thread below:

    “Just to be clear, Trulia offers lots of great free features to agents which helps increase traffic to their websites and increase their brand. For example, some core free features that we offer and which are pretty valuable in my mind are the ability to add your listings for free, brand your listings for free with your image and contact info, participate on Trulia Voices and connect directly with home buyers, home sellers, and other real estate agents and create a free detailed profile that gives consumers a glimpse of who who are. These features and many more, will remain free.

    Being a business, we offer additional cost effective services to those that choose to enhance their visibility and brand on Trulia. So if you’re an agent, local business or service provider, you can promote yourself and your brand with Trulia Pro. If you are a major advertiser, we offer banner ads throughout the site. This is how we monetize our site so have no fear :)”

    Rudy
    Social Media Guru at Trulia

  19. jf.sellsius

    July 11, 2008 at 7:33 am

    The sooner to profitability, the sooner the payoff to investors (and trulians)— ACQUISITION.
    Then its on to something else– perhaps cervezas on the Mexican Riviera. That’s dot.com.
    Just this blogger’s opinion.

  20. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 11, 2008 at 7:51 am

    Trulia makes its money through advertising, not lead generation – CURRENTLY.

    I finished the rest of the sentence in the quote.

    Even so, Advertising is a pretty broad term. The whole ActiveRain/Localism thing could be viewed as advertising.

    Regardless, revenue models typically can and do change. Advertising only TODAY, can be something entirely different a year from now. Buyouts by other companies, change in corporate leadership, or change in market dominance all can be cause for revamping of revenue streams.

  21. Greg Cremia

    July 11, 2008 at 8:43 am

    $33,000,000 takes a lot of ads to generate and when you add in the expected profit, advertising just doesn’t cut it. If advertising generated the income we are being told it does then there would not have been the need for this new money.

    Venture capitalists are not looking for modest gains on their investment.

    Anybody who doesn’t believe they will be selling leads at some point in the future is not objectively looking at the situation. My guess is their strategy will change just about the time the market picks back up.

    Meanwhile, blogs like this keep on giving them free? links and free? PR.

  22. Jessie B

    July 11, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    As Greg & Sellisius points out, things can and do change and VC’s are looking for a big return.

    Remember Lendingtree? Started by selling leads to mortgage lenders got big was sold to IAC for tidy profit, then they bought Home Loan Center to actually fund some of the loans and compete against the lenders they sold leads to. Then Lendingtree / IAC purchased Realestate.com and sold leads to real estate agents, now owns real estate brokerage in 14+ markets and over 1000 agents and grew revenue at 38% in 2008 Q1 while rest of RE industry suffered.

  23. Brian Wilson

    July 11, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Friends, it is called capitalism and it is what we are all in business to do. Of course Trulia wants to increase its market share and value by earning more and more valuable search engine real estate. They are taking risks in order to make profits and that is okay. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but why is it in the real estate industry do we always eat our own?

    Do they compete with the local agents in their markets for search engine placement? It depends… I think there are many local agents who have created excellent local market content that is read locally and generates mucho business for them and they are probably licking Trulia for their market. Trulia’s content is okay, but is nothing compared to what a motivated and educated agent can do with a blog and 1 hour a day. I am not slighting Trulia; I am sure they would affirm this.

    Are they cleaning house in markets where no agents are creating meaningful content about their markets? Definitely… and that is a good thing. It is obviously good for customers who need this information to make informed decisions and it is a good thing for those agents who need to be prodded a bit to up their game.

  24. jf.sellsius

    July 11, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    @Brian Wilson

    >….why is it in the real estate industry do we always eat our own?

    The Trulias & Zillows are founded by tech folk who see an opportunity in the real estate space, where those who are “your own”, Realtor.com and MLS, have failed to deliver the goods to “their own”. It is “your own” who are eating you.

  25. Jessie B

    July 11, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Excellent points Brian. I totally agree with you… “but is nothing compared to what a motivated and educated agent can do with a blog and 1 hour a day” or if I can add… with their own IDX enabled site and some CRM.

    This brings me back full circle from my original comment. Some agents seem to understand that they can control their own future if they invest the time and efforts into building their own online presence and if that becomes a larger trend, then T may have a more difficult time in monetizing agents in the current local ad format.

    Not saying that T is good or bad just pointing out items to gleam insight from great comments like yours as to what the future of RE will look like from an agents point of view. Personally, I think the T staff is very, very sharp and executes strategies very well.

    What’s sad is the most RE brokerages are not learning from T and others and doing something similar for their own brands and for their agents, which is why LT / realestate.com are getting into the RE business as noted above.

    Regarding this.. “why is it in the real estate industry do we always eat our own?”.

    I think the answer is yes because of the RE business model in general. All agents even those in the same office are competing against each other. The RE community is basically comprised of 1 million or so capitalists… each trying to get their share.

  26. Brian Wilson

    July 11, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    This is an interesting exchange even though it is repeated each and every time a new Silicon Valley or Seattle company launches in the real estate space or receives funding… 🙂 I think all of the hand-wringing and cheetah flips are really unnecessary until Trulia moves beyond providing a branding opportunity for real estate brokerages. In my opinion, this is their primary value proposition to real estate agents and brokers to provide content in the form of listings and “answers.” Most, but not all, agents who give content to Trulia will tell you that it has not resulted in actual closed business which is the whole point for us working-stiff agents.

    $15 million can go a long way to enable them to make this leap which seems to be the essence of those who are uneasy right now. I may be oblivious but I do not thing that top-down sites like this can ever accumulate the gritty, ground-level content about localities that real estate customers searh for. Trulia creates these “neighborhood” reports from an office in San Francisco or wherever about “Johnsonville, America” which is great but cannot be as timely and authentic as agent Smith’s daily blog posts based on his showings that day. I am not trying to talk down about a very successful company like Trulia, only trying to explain why I don’t think the sky is falling and about to land on the head or your neighborhood Realtor.

  27. Brian Wilson

    July 11, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Sorry for all the spelling mistakes. “Yes,” I did go to school beyond 4th grade and “no,” english is not my second language.

  28. Frank Jewett

    July 11, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    jf has it right.

    “What is not new, alas, are the monopolies of morons imposed upon us by the National Association of Realtors and all of its many tentacular sub-cartels. Where everything in business is about to change radically — in response to the iPhone, to Web 3.0, to the unforeseeable efficiencies of the cloud — everything in our business will change at its usual glacial pace — driven not by the pursuit of profit, not by the thrill of innovation, not by the ever-more-vast oceans of information available to us — driven only by the need of the NAR and its cabal of sleazy vendors to hold Realtors hostage.” – Greg Swann, BloodHoundBlog

  29. Matthew Rathbun

    July 11, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    At least I know that Trulia will make better use the money that Twitter did! 🙂

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