Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Profitable for Three Years, Apartment List Raises $15M Series A Round

Apartment List, which has aggregated some 600,000 rental apartment listings, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Matrix Partners.

The company previously raised $1 million seed funding in 2010, and has been profitable for the past three years, according to CEO John Kobs.

Unlike some other up-and-comers in the space, Apartment List never scraped Craigslist to boost its inventory, Kobs noted. It avoided being a target of Craigslist’s cease-and-desist/lawsuit strategy and struck 100 data partnerships instead.

While Craigslist is still dominant in some big markets, Kobs said Apartment List now has more inventory than Craigslist in 72 of the top 100 cities in the U.S.

And while he’s bragging, here’s a pretty good stat: Apartment List already gets 47 percent of its 1.6 million monthly visitors from mobile, and it hasn’t even launched an Android app yet.

Part of the company’s strategy is having members of its 57-person team do things like call landlords who advertise offline, and manually make sure their listings have good photos. “We decided that supply is so critical to our success that it’s worth spending money on it,” Kobs said.

On the demand and transaction sides, Apartment List also hosts parties for people to meet roommates, and hopes to expand into digitizing applications, leases and payments, Kobs said.

Besides Craigslist, Apartment List faces big competition from Zillow, which has been particularly acquisitive in the rental space. But Apartment List is buying startups, too; it acquired RentAdvisor in October 2013 in an all-stock deal.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald