Nate Moch on Tech in Real Estate, Leadership, and PR Opportunities in Failure
Nate Moch, VP Growth at Zillow (USA's largest real estate site)
When StartCon 2016 headline speaker Nate Moch was recruited to Zillow from his software development job at Microsoft in 2006, he was put in charge of creating a stress and performance testing group to help launch the website.
Testing was done, and things looked good for the launch, then a bit of mixed luck struck on launch day. The company had hit the front page of Wall Street Journal - which was great - and the resulting traffic overload crashed the nascent site - which is a bad look when you’re the guy in charge of testing it.
“I thought I was going to be fired,” says Nate. “But it turned out to be great as it generated more buzz and traffic to our site. It was my first sign that I should be working on growth as opposed to performance.”
Zillow, a Seattle company started by a couple of ex-Microsoft executives, is an online database for real estate in the United States. It’s a search engine, listing platform and estimate generator for real estate.
Now, over 10 years later, it’s one of the biggest online real estate sites running, with well over 1000 employees. Nate is now vice president of Product Teams, putting him in charge of the Growth and Data teams.
This is a future he didn’t see for himself as a kid, but took it by the teeth when it was presented to him.
“When I was a kid I wanted to be a doctor. I even planned on studying medicine in college. However everything changed when I took a freshman year seminar that was a mix of psychology and computer science. I had no experience with computers but ended up loving the classes and knew right away I was going to be a computer science major. I love technology and the power it provides to build amazing things that improve people's lives.”
He says building Zillow Mortgages from scratch was a formative time in his career.
“It was a chance to build a new startup within a startup. Zillow Mortgages was a complicated two sided marketplace that we had to navigate in a very regulated space. I learned a tremendous amount about product market fit, being consumer focused, growing users, the power of small teams, and taking big swings.”
Zillow excites Nate. He says the information available to people through Zillow is empowering, and a lot of it they’ve never had access to before.
“Whether it is Zestimates, foreclosure data, anonymous mortgage rate shopping, or the safest rentals, we are always looking for ways to make people happy and provide value,” he says.
“The other thing that keeps me motivated and gets me fired up to come into work in the morning is Zillow’s people and culture. The people you work with make all of the difference in the world. So the most important thing you can do as a leader is make sure you hire the right people and maintain a culture that continually inspires and challenges that world class talent.”
He is also excited about other developments in the tech field, particularly when he sees a future benefit for real estate.
“I get excited about virtual reality because of the impact it will have on the real estate shopping experience. The real estate industry is a perfect market for virtual reality and we want to be the ones helping shape how that will play out.
“I also love the idea of the connected home and having information and control over things happening in your house. Knowledge is power, and the first step to getting people to change their habits and consumption is to understand what they are doing.
For example, being able to show energy and water usage could go a long way to improve energy efficiency of homes and appliances, encourage water conservation, and promote renewable energy.”
On top of his leadership role at Zillow, Nate is also heavily involved in mentoring for startups, putting time in with several organisations.
Nate has an MBA from the University of Washington and a CS degree from DePauw University, where he was involved in several software development, web development, and leadership programmes.
If you'd like to hear more from Nate, catch him at StartCon 2016, where he'll be speaking on how to expand your audience and data footprint to drive growth in your startup. Don't miss out!
On November 26 & 27, 2016, internationally acclaimed technology industry superstars will fly to Australia, to teach you how your company can grow and prosper in any economic environment. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a business professional, in marketing, or senior management at a large corporation, this is the #1 conference in Australia to help you get to the next level.