Case Detail

Case Summary

Neighborhood Watch: The Rise of Zillow

Case Number: 5-117-006, Year Published: 2017

HBS Number: KE1008

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Authors: Russell Walker; Joanna Green

Key Concepts

Corporate Strategy, Big Data, Growth Strategy, Information Management, Information Technology, Disruptive Innovation, Market Analysis, Pricing Strategy, Product Development, Strategic Positioning


Read any news report on the housing market, and inevitably it will include facts or figures from the real estate data giant The company initially set out to solve two key economic frictions in the real estate industry—information asymmetry and the principal-agent problem—by empowering users to access real-time housing data and eliminating the need for realtors. The company soon realized, however, that American homeowners and buyers were not willing to give up the traditional real estate agent model and changed course. In the end, Zillow decided to join—rather than replace—the middlemen in the real estate industry.

Learning Objectives

After reading and analyzing the case, students will be better able to identify key economic frictions in the real estate industry; adapt strategy to contextual changes; and build a successful business by harnessing Big Data.

Number of Pages: 7

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Strategy

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: United States

Industry: Real Estate

Organization Name: Zillow

Year of Case: 2014