On a day when the largest social media firm on the planet went offline for a number of hours, Spencer Rascoff talked about why he’s been constructing a small social newcomer round meals and why the trouble leaves a greater style in his mouth than Fb and others.

Former Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff speaks at the Opening Party at the 2021 GeekWire Summit in Seattle. (GeekWire Photos / Kevin Lisota)

© Supplied by Geekwire
Former Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff speaks on the Opening Get together on the 2021 GeekWire Summit in Seattle. (GeekWire Pictures / Kevin Lisota)

Rascoff, the co-founder and former CEO of Zillow, returned to Seattle Monday because the featured visitor on the opening get together of the 2021 GeekWire Summit. The Summit continues Tuesday with a full agenda, that includes audio system corresponding to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, entertainer and entrepreneur Ciara, and extra.


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In a dialog with GeekWire co-founder John Cook dinner, Rascoff was referred to as out for snapping a photograph of his meals throughout lunch between the pair earlier within the day. However the transfer does relate again to one of many many ventures retaining the tech veteran busy as of late.

Rascoff’s work alongside his teenage daughter, Sophia, on the brand new social app Recon Meals, offered perception into his views on poisonous social media environments, the necessity for brand spanking new social verticals, what it’s like working together with his child, and extra.

Recon Meals launched this summer season as a spot to convey individuals collectively round a shared love for meals. Requested whether or not there aren’t already sufficient social platforms, Rascoff couldn’t resist taking a shot at Fb.

“Properly, we’ve got one much less right now,” he mentioned, referencing the outage that additionally took out Fb-owned Instagram and WhatsApp. “My thesis is that social has turn into so huge, so ubiquitous and so horizontal, that it’s unbundling into these verticals.”

Rascoff mentioned meals is simply enjoyable and doesn’t include the toxicity, politics, and stress of standard social media. And he thinks a viable enterprise will be constructed round highly effective, devoted vertical areas. He hinted that he’s engaged on one other one, however he wasn’t able to announce it on Monday.

Rascoff shows off his custom Nike shoes with Pacaso branding.

© Supplied by Geekwire
Rascoff exhibits off his customized Nike sneakers with Pacaso branding.

The previous Hotwire and Expedia govt has a hand in every part as of late, from a SPAC to a media firm to a trip house possession startup, however he referred to as working together with his daughter an ideal case examine of the significance of variety in product growth.

The range on this case was generational. Exhausted by conventional platforms, Sophia was capable of information her father towards a model of Recon Meals that he didn’t initially see and which made the app higher than if he had labored on it alone.

Rascoff touched on numerous different subjects on Monday together with iBuying in actual property; classes realized at Zillow, constructing Pacaso through the pandemic; and extra.

  • Evolving view on actual property transactions: Relating to iBuying, the streamlined course of that removes most of the issues of actual property transactions, Rascoff mentioned he’s turn into an enormous bull. Zillow Provides, RedfinNow, Opendoor and Offerpad are examples of iBuyers which have made shopping for or promoting a house extra like an e-commerce transaction. “Shopper expectations across the ease of a transaction have modified. Bear in mind, these companies don’t exist in a vacuum. We will sit right here and speak about Zillow and iBuying all day lengthy, however to the patron they’re not desirous about one specific service. They’re utilizing a wide range of companies. They’re utilizing Uber for a automotive, DoorDash for meals, Hippo for insurance coverage, and all these vertically built-in companies, the place they’re urgent a button on their telephone and having magic occur. Shoppers introduced that expectation into the true property transaction. They usually anticipate a vertically built-in, seamless, magical expertise when promoting their house.”
  • Zillow takeaways: Rascoff is pleased with the 15 years he spent on the Seattle actual property firm, and is making an attempt to duplicate Zillow’s tradition, values and alternatives at each firm he’s concerned in right now. However though Zillow grew to become centered on variety, fairness and inclusion over time, it wasn’t entrance and heart again in 2005. “These new firms that I’m hatching, DEI is entrance and heart from the beginning,” Rascoff mentioned. “I strive to make sure that these firms recruit various groups proper from the start, as a result of in the event you don’t, it turns into very exhausting to construct various groups later. And secondly, we’ve inbuilt some circumstances, software program instruments to measure and guarantee acceptable office conduct.”
  • Pacaso and the pandemic: The startup that makes it simpler for individuals to personal a trip house by splitting possession of such houses into completely different items has already reached $1.5 billion valuation after launching in October 2020. Rascoff thinks the idea is right here to remain even after COVID’s disruption of conventional holidays as a result of firms have adjusted their expectations of the place employees can do their jobs. “There’s a everlasting step change in how usually individuals will be capable of use a second house. It’s a good enterprise with that tailwind. Additionally, the sharing financial system has come actually far. Pacaso most likely wouldn’t have been potential 10 years in the past, partly since you had been extra tethered to your desk, and due to this fact much less ready to make use of your second house. But additionally as a result of the sharing financial system wasn’t as developed. So the concept of co-owning a house with a stranger, it doesn’t appear fairly so loopy anymore.”
  • Distant mindset: Rascoff additionally touched on how he and co-founder Austin Allison determined pre-COVID to make Pacaso absolutely distributed and distant so they may rent individuals far and wide. It turned out to be sensible on reflection as a result of that’s the way in which most firms moved. “From a recruiting standpoint, it was such a bonus. We’re now 140 individuals at Pacaso, the corporate’s a yr previous. When Zillow was a yr previous, we had been solely fishing in a single pond, that was Seattle on the time. And it was very, very tough to rent. Now, we’ve got no downside with recruiting.”

Rascoff wrapped issues up by answering a query we plan to pose to lots of our Summit audio system: What’s the largest hurdle you’ve encountered throughout COVID? And the way did you overcome it? For those who did overcome it.

“The shift to working from house was tough. It’s very exhausting for me to know when to cease working. I’m positive lots of you might have skilled this, the road between work and play … there’s none. After which virtually talking, I imply, silly Amazon involves my home like 3 times a day and that drives my canines loopy and so it’s simply very noisy at my home. So I solved that by locking my canines up throughout a lot of the work day. Determining the when to work, when to not work, I block time on my calendar much more aggressively, like 3 p.m. to five p.m. be offline, the children are coming house from college, I wish to be with them a little bit bit then I can work once more, like 5 to 7. I’m simply fairly aggressive about about my calendar with the intention to attempt to create some sense of what’s working, when does it cease and when does it begin once more.”

Editor’s word: The whole Spencer Rascoff fireplace chat session might be viewable to registered GeekWire Summit attendees on-demand. Go right here to register to view the on-demand session, and to tune into the total GeekWire Summit livestream — together with fireplace chats with Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, singer Ciara, Microsoft govt vp Christopher Younger and others — on Oct. 5. 

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