It is raining cats and dogs. Electricity was out this morning and we just got it back. I am very behind in everything, including my writing. But here we go …
Trulia is a real estate vertical search engine that could be a potential Web 3.0 consolidator for the online real estate category in a similar vein as Kayak is for Travel. Besides vertical search, Trulia also has Trulia Voices, an online community that allows users to have a dialog. Trulia has also released Trulia API and Trulia Widgets, in the spirit of high-traffic sites opening up their platforms to third-party developers.
Trulia raised $10 million in Series C funding led by Sequoia Capital. Other investors were Accel Partners and Fayez Sarofim & Co. This round takes Trulia’s total funding to $17.8 million.
Trulia makes money via advertising. It has also launched a subscription-based service model wherein it charges agents $50 for listings. CPM rates at Trulia vary between $4.69 to $50.00. The Company has an inventory of 25 million ad impressions.
Trulia aims to capture a chunk of the $11 billion (Borrell Associates) spent by real estate professionals and organizations on their marketing in the US. The site lists over 2.5 million homes, 58 million property records and the average time spent by a user on the site is 12 minutes. According to comScore, Trulia, with 3 million monthly unique visitors, is the fastest growing real estate site in the U.S. Hitwise has ranked it as the 18th most visited real estate site. Over the course of this year, their ranking will rise, for sure.
Trulia is a prime acquisition target for large online real estate players like ZipRealty or Move. However, these companies are struggling in the public market right now, and may not be able to offer the level of valuation Trulia would be looking for. Even though the amount of money raised is relatively low (a fact I really like about the company), knowing Sequoia’s investment style, my guess is that their level of ambition is high.
Others who might be interested in acquiring Trulia would be the major newspaper companies (McClatchy, Gannett, NYT) who are losing classified revenues, or the large Internet players (Yahoo, Google, eBay), who are looking at expanding/developing their vertical presence in real estate.
Meanwhile, Trulia itself can become the consolidator of smaller real estate sites, applications, widgets and more, to create a new, compelling, web 3.0 story of its own.
My personal opinion is that they have already differentiated themselves wrt the competition in the online real estate market. While some of the more established companies are struggling as public companies, they are private, efficient, innovative, and on the ball with the new trends.
They should become the consolidator, and not rush to sell out.
This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2008