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Yelping Googly Trulia! Is Google is doing some last minute Holiday shopping?

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All this week there has been a lot of buzz around the interwebs about Google’s possible acquisition of Yelp.com. The local reviews website has been wildly popular almost everywhere I have been in the country and could stand an image makeover in my humble opinion. One big enhancement could be the business user side to there social networking and business placement. Something Google is doing a good job of with their “Place Pages” for Google search and maps (example: San Francisco Real Estate Services )

With Google Place pages, business owners have the opportunity to have a publish the content of a business page, including video, where as “Yelp for business owners” seems to be geared towards offering buy up features such as advanced profile control and targeted advertising to the tune of $300-$1,000 a month. I’ve never really cared for this option too much as an advertiser or a consumer and think that Google might do a much better job of providing what’s best for the consumer. Yelp’s approach has been, in my experience, at bit heavily controlled.

Yelp for Real Estate has been at best an ongoing resource of placement for you business, à la Citysearch, and some seem to think a resource where Reviews of actual agents should be found.

What else might be under the tree?

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Even Bigger news for Real Estate on the Google front broke just last night when Kara Swisher from All Things Digital posted about talks going on regarding the acquisition of Trulia.com.

It is unclear what price Google (GOOG) would pay, but sources estimate that Trulia’s valuation ranges between $150 million and $200 million, although there could be a big premium on that.

Rumors about Google’s interest in the real estate search market–and specifically in Trulia–have been rebounding around Silicon Valley for the last year.

But Google has pulled the trigger on a number of acquisitions of innovative start-ups recently and, sources said, will continue to do so.

There’s also been a lot of chat about Google’s interest in Real Estate in the online Real Estate space which is mostly about us looking inward. Google, in my opinion, is far less interested in anything involving something like an MLS, an RPR, or anything else as much as eyeballs and ads, same as it’s ever been for them.

These are interesting developments in what is all about Geography and Placement. I find it of particular interest when some of my own favorite apps have everything to do with the GPS in my iPhone.

Any other ideas out there about what little elves could be working on in Santa’s workshop?

Related posts:
  • My client went shopping for houses on Trulia.com, and only 75% of those she found were bogus listings…
  • Podcast interview with Trulia.com’s Heather Fernandez: “Real estate professionals are going to be able connect directly with consumers”
  • Truliamazing tricks of the trade: don’t link to your trusted partners

  • 5 comments

    5 Comments so far

    1. Eric Blackwell December 20th, 2009 5:02 am

      Hi Brad and Merry Christmas to ya!

      @Google eyeing Yelp. That could well be under their Christmas tree. I agree with you about the makeover.

      @Google eyeing Trulia – I am not buying that. I think that may be Trulia wishing for the tooth fairy to leave them some money under their pillow. I just cannot see why Google would pull the trigger on that deal.

      Google already has Googlebase. They do not need Trulia for the rankings. They ARE the rankings. Trulia’s play is to sell advertising (for now until that doesn’t work and then they will turn into Zillow and R.com and charge REALTORS). Google’s play is to sell advertising. IMHO Google is a heckuva lot better at it than Trulia…so why pay some serious $$$ for Trulia?? Is their BRAND worth that much? Remember that Google can see how many people ACTUALLY search for the term Trulia (grin) and by now they HAVE to know that most of them are REALTORS…They likely have a pretty accurate read on the value of the Trulia brand if they care to look.

      Would love others thoughts on this…

      Eric

    2. Thomas Johnson December 20th, 2009 3:10 pm

      Merry Christmas Brad!

      In Trulia’s dreams! I think that is someone “talking their book”. I doubt Realtors are going to pay to list their own listings, so they have to find another way to cash out Guido the VC. Pumping the Google rumor is an act of desperation to flush out a buyer before the cash burn goes to ash. The shadow of the RPR has put a damper on all the portals valuations.

      I think the Reaper is coming, the NAR just has to determine everyone’s price. It’s the Rotarian Socialist way.

    3. Brad Coy December 21st, 2009 1:16 am

      Merry Christmas fellas!

      Looks like the Yelp deal fell apart: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/12/20/yelp-walks-away-from-google-deal-and-half-a-billion-dollars/

      With Trulia, I’m not sure it would be so much for the brand as it would be for the brain trust to make search better than… this: http://maps.google.com/help/maps/realestate/

      Google has been inching into the water, but has yet to take a plunge.

      I’m holding out for that visual search technology I can do by looking through the iPhone and seeing the price and detail on everything surrounding me in a neighborhood. Trulia bringing the homes. Yelp bringing the businesses and reviews. Google bringing the goggles. :)

    4. John Rowles December 21st, 2009 5:31 am

      If anything, if the Yelp deal has fallen apart, that makes a Google/Trulia deal more likely.

      Google has been on a run lately, buying four companies in the last two months. Seems they’ve decided to buy low.

      (Not to Eric Schmidt: I can be bought. Low.)

      As Brad points out, real estate search tools, even on even the most popular national sites, are not all that exciting. That is what my company tries to improve at the broker level, and Google could certainly do better at the national level, and that is one reason for them to look at Trulia.

      Trulia also has something Yelp had: Local content and an existing advertising model. Profitable or not, Trulia has built relationships in the industry at multiple levels — brand, broker, and agent. It is easier for Google to buy those relationships, and the sometimes painful experience behind building them, than it would be to go out and build them itself.

      Which brings us back to buying low. Seems to me that Trulia is caught in a bind — they can’t lower prices to drive sales because their existing VC’s want to see cash coming in, so they have to maximize revenue, but as Craig’s List demonstrates in dramatic fashion, it is by de-monetizing a segment that you dominate it on the Web.

      With Google money behind it, Trulia could charge less even while the wizards at Google go to work on the underlying technology to improve it. That could suck the oxygen out of real estate listing syndication the same way CL sucked the oxygen out of the on-line classifieds, making Trulia profitable once they reach a critical mass that is unattainable at their current prices.

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