Zillow Group (Z) is set to sell ActiveRain, the social networking, blogging, and training platform for the real estate industry, to the Ben Kinney family of companies.
Trulia, which is now owned by Zillow, acquired ActiveRain in July 2013, as part of its acquisition of Market Leader. In April 2014, Trulia increased its presence in ActiveRain by branding all ActiveRain.com URL’s with Trulia’s URL. At the time, ActiveRain.com became ActiveRain.Trulia.com.
Beginning Monday, ActiveRain.Trulia.com will revert back to its original URL, ActiveRain.com, Kinney told HousingWire on Friday.
According to the announcement from Zillow, the deal is expected to close on June 30. Due to the deal not being completed yet, Kinney was not at liberty to discuss the specifics of his plans for ActiveRain, but told HousingWire that he has big plans for the site.
“Our intention is to keep and grow the platform,” Kinney said. “We plan to invest majorly in technology, as many agents on the site have asked for.” Kinney also said that the site will be “brand agnostic” and not allow any influence from any major real estate brand.
“We want it to be a safe place,” Kinney told HousingWire.
Kinney is also acquiring Kwkly from Zillow in the deal. Kwkly is a text-to-lead service that helps connect buyers with agents, and Kinney told HousingWire that he’s very excited about the potential of the service.
“We believe that mobile is the future of the real estate industry,” Kinney said. “The most valuable piece of contact information is a consumer’s phone number.”
HousingWire Magazine profiled Kinney in Nov. 2014. He has been a licensed real estate professional for 11 years and leads nearly 1,000 agents in the real estate brokerages he owns and operates in the U.S. and the U.K.
Kinney’s family of companies also includes Brivity and Blossor. Brivity is a CRM, transaction management, marketing and communication tool for the real estate industry. Blossor is a real estate portal that aims to take on Zillow, Trulia and the like.
Kinney also owns Real Launch and the technology firms Big Fresh and Tech Help.
"Ben Kinney taking on the ownership of ActiveRain is a positive step forward in the stewardship of this important and influential community of real estate professionals," said Spencer Rascoff, Zillow Group chief executive officer. "As part of Ben's organization, ActiveRain will be a major focus, benefiting from Ben's leadership and oversight, helping ActiveRain continue to flourish within the agent community. We look forward to watching ActiveRain grow and evolve."
Over on ActiveRain, Kinney posted a blog discussing the acquisition and his plans for the site’s future.
In the blog, Kinney writes that Bob Stewart is returning to ActiveRain. “Many of you know Bob as the former ActiveRain Community Manager and Trainer,” Kinney writes. “He’ll be a key part of the new focus and energy of ActiveRain.”
Kinney also writes that he plans to “invest heavily” into ActiveRain University and additional training to make the site the best real estate resource online.
Kinney also reiterated his statement that ActiveRain will not promote one franchise or brokerage over another.
“ActiveRain is a community for all brokerage models and all brands no matter how large or small,” Kinney writes.
“ActiveRain will not be used to promote only one or two products, services, or trainings,” Kinney continued. “This community deserves to know about all products, all services, and all trainings. Those products and services will be judged by our community, not by advertisers or owners.”
Kinney said that he’s excited about the future of ActiveRain.
"We're eager to bring ActiveRain back to its roots and continue the work Jonathan Washburn, Bob Stewart and the team started in 2006," Kinney said. "We have some great things in store for ActiveRain that we think agents who use the site are going to love."