Trulia CEO: Mobile monetization is workingSeptember 20, 2012: 12:22 PM ET
FORTUNE -- Real estate technology company Trulia Inc. (TRLA) went public today, raising more than $100 million in its IPO. The company priced its shares above range at $17 a piece, and was trading at around $24 per share as of this writing.
So we checked in with Trulia co-founder and CEO Pete Flint. What follows is a transcript of our conversation:
FORTUNE: Did you originally file your IPO papers confidentially, through a JOBS Act provision?
FLINT: Yes, we took advantage of the JOBS Act, and were one of the first companies to do that. Filing confidentially enabled us to focus on the business without getting too distracted by the IPO. The JOBS Act also allows company to disclose less information than they would otherwise have to, but we chose not to take advantage of that. We thought greater transparency was the right thing to do."
If there had been no JOBS Act, would it have affected your decision to go public or your timing?
No, it made no difference. The ability to file confidentially was helpful, but wasn't the reason we did what we did.
Last week you were sued by Zillow (Z) for patent infringement, related to part of your home price estimate technology. Did the timing make you consider delaying the IPO?
We can't talk about the litigation.
[At this point I objected, pointing out that my question wasn't really about the actual lawsuit. Then I strenuously objected. Yet, to no avail…]
You priced the shares at $17 a piece, but then saw them open higher and now are trading above $23. Wish you had tried pricing a few dollars higher so that you could have brought another $10 million or $20 million into the company?
No, absolutely not. We're very happy going out at $17, which I thought was appropriately priced. Remember, this is just an initial public offering.
What we're really excited about isn't so much the price but the investor demand. The three things that I think got investors excited on the road show over the last ten days were the enormous market opportunity, the subscription-based business model and our ability to monetize a mobile app.
Let's talk about that last one. Why is mobile working for Trulia?
Put yourself in the shoes of a homebuyer. They are using our apps to look at real estate, which means many of them are out driving about and looking at homes on the outside while using our app to look at the homes on the inside. It's why our usage usually spikes in mid-afternoon. Then they're often using our app to connect with the real estate agents via phone calls or emails.
In the minds of our real estate agent subscribers, or advertisers, mobile users are more attractive to them. In fact, they spend 25% more in their monthly fees on mobile than on the web or desktop equivalent. We think that makes us unique.
Is Zillow the best comp for Trulia?
The comps the bankers used were LinkedIn (LNKD), Yelp (YELP), HomeAway (AWAY) and Zillow. Obviously Zillow is focused on the real estate category, as are we. But the majority of our users don't visit Zillow, according to Comscore. So if a subscriber wants to get in front of our audience – which is transaction-ready, not casual -- they need to come to us directly.
When Facebook's (FB) lockup expired, insiders dumped shares and the company's stock tanked. Obviously there is a big scale difference, but are you worried about what happens in 90 days or 181 days?
No, I'm not worried. You say Facebook, I say Yelp. There are lots of companies where the lockup expiration hasn't been impactful for -them. We're a public company now so obviously there will be some amount of shareholder transition, but we've seen very strong investor demand so far. Plus, we think our investors see the future upside, just like we do.
How dependent is Trulia on the health of the broader real estate market?
We're not very dependent on it. We built the business in the midst of the worst housing downturn America has ever seen, which we felt meant that consumers needed more information than ever and agents needed better marketing tools. But clearly as the housing market improves – and it is, yesterday we saw increases to both new home sales and home sale prices – then there is more money in the ecosystem which is better for real estate and for the overall economy. Of course we benefit when the economy is stronger.
Any lessons from the road show?
We've been traveling around the U.S. over the last 10 days, to places like Houston and Kansas City, talking about our business. Just doing that is so valuable because it's a story that resonates with every American investor and employee. They see real estate as an enormous market and are existed that someone will help fix it.
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