Real Estate Search Provider Trulia Sold on IPO Prospects

Trulia’s founder and CEO Pete Flint remains focused on taking his real-estate search company public, despite one of its closest competitors beating him to it this summer.

Flint — who, ironically, is a renter in the high-priced city of San Francisco — said Trulia is spending time to build out its management team and is currently looking for a CFO.

Earlier this week, it appointed Dr. Jed Kolko as chief economist. Kolko will lead the company’s research department and will also comment on market trends.

Flint said the San Francisco-based company has raised $33 million in venture capital and was no longer interested in seeking private equity. “We are really focused on the IPO,” he said.

He declined to provide a timeline, or to confirm reports from last week that Trulia would seek an IPO in 2012.

Now that one of the company’s closest competitors is public, Flint knows exactly how well Trulia stacks up. “It makes me even more excited about the opportunity,” he said. “While we compete, I’ve been happy about them telling the story to the market.”

Flint says the company has 300 full-time employees, attracts 17 million unique visitors to its site every month, and has been breaking even for 12 months.

In comparison, Zillow has 264 employees and 25 million unique monthly visitors [up from the 20.8 million I pulled from its latest quarterly filing.]. In its first quarter as a public company, it also recorded its first profit. Zillow priced its IPO at $20 a share. Immediately after, its stock soared to as much as $45 a share, but it is trading today at $27 a share. It is valued at $763 million.

Move, Inc. is another public company in the space, and manages the site. It is trading at $1.53 a share and has a market cap of $244 million.

Flint said Trulia’s biggest differentiation in the space is the amount of user-generated content it receives, including agent recommendations. It recently rolled out estimated home valuations to compete with Zillow’s Zestimate service.

Today, it is live only in the San Francisco area, but Flint said Trulia made an effort to make that more social by allowing people vote on whether they agree or disagree with the value of a home by clicking thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

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