I actually get asked quite often, “how did you get a job at Zillow?” — so I thought I’d write up a quick blog post with the answer for those of you curious who haven’t asked me in person.

I graduated from UW Bothell in June of 2005, and, in what has turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made, immediately set out to backpack Europe with my best friend Jerry. I was gone for 2 months (Jerry stayed 4). Upon returning to Seattle completely broke, I immediately began scouring the Seattle scene for something in startup land with the help of Tim Reha (whom I interned for in college).

Tim exposed me to the startup scene while at Venture All Stars the prior spring — and there was really no turning back after that. Business outside the technology industry moves too slow to keep me interested (I’m not the most patient person on the planet). Thus, my search focused primarily on technology startups that had raised funding and had entry level positions available. I was also interested in biofuel for a bit, and spent some time trying to get a job with Imperium Renewables (founded by Martin Tobias) – which didn’t pan out. The two tech companies that made their way to the top of the list were Judy’s Book (Andy Sack) and Zillow (Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink). I had always been somewhat interested in real estate, more from the investment perspective. When I realized that there was a startup tackling real estate started by the management team that started Expedia — well, there was a clear leader. An added bonus was that Tim Reha’s friend knew Annie Rihn (Zillow’s head recruiter still to this day) to facilitate an introduction.

8 years later, I still remember my first encounter with Rich Barton — and likely the single thing that made me realize he was someone I wanted to learn from and Zillow was the place for me. It was at a “5 minute jobbing” recruiting event at the Eastlake Bar & Grill in late August of 2005 (it could have been September). Immediately prior to the event ending, Rich stood up in the center of the deck and said “We’re going to revolutionize the real estate industry” loud enough to get everyone’s attention. The confidence in his voice was unmistakable.

I spent the next several weeks hounding Annie for an interview. After finally securing an in person 20 minute interview with Jeff Somers, I got word a few days later that I would be starting 3 days later. On September 22nd (I think), I started my internship.

The rest is history, and I couldn’t have asked for a better job opportunity (2005-2010) coming straight out of college. And yes, I’d say Rich executed on his promise in 2005 to revolutionize the industry…real estate is a very different industry now than it was prior to Zestimates existing.

PS: Why am I writing this now? The prompt for this came from a discussion started by Greg Fischer in 1000Watt’s TurnOn! FB group, talking about maps. On the thread, Dale Chumbley mentioned that he spent 8 years working at his local county GIS doing land records mapping when they still used paper maps and extended through their early implementation of ESRI products! Which leads me back to Zillow, given that I spent the first 6 months at Zillow (2005-2006) engrossed in ESRI’s ArcVIEW product building Zillow’s 1st neighborhood database (later released under a Creative Commons license).