Inside The Zillow San Francisco Office | Built In San Francisco (2024)

Inside The Zillow San Francisco Office | Built In San Francisco (1)

Taking a job at Zillow involves signing up for a gaggle of imaginary friends: Allen the Agent, Harriet the Homeowner, Susan the Seller and Beth the Buyer, among others. Colorful posters of these customer personas brighten the real estate platform’s San Francisco offices; each poster features a friendly photograph and surprisingly granular details about the person(a)’s profession, lifestyle and pet peeves. Melissa the Multi-Family Marketer is 39.

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Joe Vo, a tech recruiting lead at Zillow, explained that teams keep Melissa and Allen and Co. in mind while they work, whether they’re designing new products or crafting a communications campaign.

“It’s easier to write if you think of one person than if you think of a collective of people,” added Mark Olson, a senior communications manager. “It’s more emotional, more authentic. You feel like you’re speaking one on one.”

Customers seem to feel ittoo. Ever since Zillow burst on the real estate scene back in 2006, its products have connected with consumers. The Zestimate, the company’s free, algorithmic property valuation, was so popular the day it launched that it crashed Zillow’s entire site. Even today, more than a decade later, homeowners with no plans to sell constantly check on the ebb and flow of their Zestimates.

“It’s entertainment,” one user told the New York Times. “Like a hobby.”

The tool appeals to Harriet the Homeowner, Susan the Sellerand the hundreds of millions of people they represent. In July 2018 alone, Zillow attracted 195 million unique users — more than half the population of the United States.

So what’s it like to work for one of the real estate’s most popular digital platforms? We toured the Zillow Group’s San Francisco office to get the inside scoop.

Inside The Zillow San Francisco Office | Built In San Francisco (2)

THE LOCATION

The Zillow Group —a.k.a. Zillow and its array of acquired brands —has its San Francisco offices on Mission Street, near Salesforce Tower and Salesforce Park —a lushly landscaped elevated park that has “the best collection of plants in San Francisco outside of the Botanical Garden,” according to a local botany expert. Zillow employees have epic views of the plant life from the office, and often stroll around the park’s perimeter for walk-and-talks, Vo said.

Conveniently, Salesforce Park also sits on top of Salesforce Transit Center. This is not only a stop for myriad bus routes, but will also one day be a Caltrain stop. In the interim, train aficionados can still catch BART from the Montgomery stop, a quick walk away from Zillow’s offices.

Inside The Zillow San Francisco Office | Built In San Francisco (3)

THE PEOPLE

A team of 500 people work out of this office, most of them in engineering roles. However, the team also includes product teams, designers, user experience researchersand assorted communications and HR roles.

Inside The Zillow San Francisco Office | Built In San Francisco (4)

THE OFFICE

This San Francisco space constantly evolves and expands. It’s currently eight stories, but Vo noted that the top two floors are new additions. Zillow is a relatively new tenant in the space too; once upon a time, it was headquarters for Trulia, a Zillow competitor. Zillow bought Trulia in 2014, though, and now the office houses employees from a hodgepodge of Zillow Group brands, including Trulia, Zillow proper and Hotpads. Color-coded nametags on each desk indicate which brand that employee works for — often, people from different brands sit next to each other.Here are some highlights of our tour.

Inside The Zillow San Francisco Office | Built In San Francisco (5)

The game room

The Zillow game room combines analog classics — ping pong, shuffleboard, foosball — with a Playstation corner, complete with a squashy brown couch.

“The engineers are crazy about Smash Brothers,” Vo said.

The room is also stocked with all the essential gaming amenities, including a wall of bulk candy jars, kegs of beer and wineand, of course, Solo cups.

(You may notice an astronaut helmet in the shot above — that’s not a game, but a relic from the company Halloween party, which was both space- and Halloween-themed.)

Inside The Zillow San Francisco Office | Built In San Francisco (6)

The homey atmosphere

Zillow doesn’t just buy and sell homes — its offices are home-themed. That means each floor features an epic collage of home fixtures, like plates (above) or doorknobs. The conference rooms, too, are named after different types of homes, and run the gamut from “Igloo” to “Fortress of Solitude.” (There’s actually an entire floor of conference rooms named after fictional villain’s lairs.)

Inside The Zillow San Francisco Office | Built In San Francisco (7)

The free snacks (and gadgets)

The candy wall in the game room is only the beginning. The cafeterias at Zillow host bulk dispensers of every great snack: Honey-Nut Cheerios, Cheez-Itsand peanut M&Ms, to name a few.

Watch out, though — one office vending machine mainly dispenses gadgets, not snacks (though it does house some snack packs of M&Ms). The USB-C chargers, trackpads and noise-canceling headphones inside are free for Zillow employees, but not particularly edible.

Inside The Zillow San Francisco Office | Built In San Francisco (8)

The floors that double as puzzles

In the kitchen areas, grids of white letters cover the concrete floors. They’re massive word searches — look long enoughand you can find core Zillow values, like “Move Fast” and “Think Big” hidden in the gibberish. Zillow employees can circle their findings.

Inside The Zillow San Francisco Office | Built In San Francisco (9)

The canine co-workers

Employees can bring their dogs to work at Zillow Group, and many do. We met two dogs on our tour of the premises: Roxy, a pocket-sized fluffball whose owner brings her in to work in a ventilated handbag, and Maverick (above), who dances enthusiastically for string cheese.

Not all dogs can come into the officethough. There’s an application process, Vo explained — owners have to submit their dog’s shot records, and proof that they’re at least a year old. Dogs also have to be potty-trained.

Once a dog’s paperwork gets accepted, it becomes a beloved office fixture. Maverick was borderline famous throughout the office, and his Instagram bio lists him as a “full-time employee at Zillow Group.”

Inside The Zillow San Francisco Office | Built In San Francisco (2024)
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