Startup aims to simplify real estate listings

Startup aims to simplify real estate listings

By Eve Mitchell, BUSINESS WRITER,  Inside Bay Area
Article Last Updated:07/17/2007 03:46:47 AM PDT

SO MANY real estate Web sites and so little time. A Palo Alto startup believes it has a solution to that problem with the launch today of a Web site that provides a single roof for these sites.
Ashfaq Munshi founded Terabitz Inc., a company that is launching a real estate Web site today.
Ashfaq Munshi founded Terabitz Inc., a company that is launching a real estate Web site today. (Ron Lewis – Staff)

"What we’ve done is create an ultimate integrated platform for real estate. No matter what (consumers and real estate agents) want to know about real estate, it’s in one place. There is all kinds of information out there, but it is not integrated on one place," said serial entrepreneur Ashfaq Munshi, the 45-year-old founder and chief executive officer of Terabitz Inc., a privately held company.

Munshi, whose other ventures have included heading Sunnyvale-based Level 5 Networks Inc. and launchingfour other Silicon Valley startups, got the idea for the Web site a couple of years ago from his teenage son, Kamran.

Kamran, now 17, thought there must be a way to bring Web sites for
researching information for buying a home or renting an apartment into
a single site instead of requiring people to shuttle back and forth
between them.

"This is a hot marketing idea," Munshi recalled when Kamran first pitched the idea to him.

Kamran, who will be attending Cornell University in the fall and is the
site’s co-founder and lead technical innovator, is developing the site
with 30 software engineers under contract in India, his father’s
homeland.

At the Web site, http://www.terabitz.com, users will find a
drop-and-drag menu that allows them to gather information on a map
about apartments and homes from different Web sites along with
locations for local businesses and data about crime statistics and
schools.

The site currently draws information from Web sites such as Craigslist, Zillow and Google Base, just to name a few.

The drop-and-drag approach on Terabitz.com lets users incorporate
dozens of data sources on a map while comparing neighborhoods and
sharing the information with others, he said.

Incorporated in July 2006, Terabitz has a dozen employees — 10 in Palo
Alto and two who are working on the East Coast. In February, it closed
on $10 million in venture capital funding from Boston-based Tudor
Investment Corp.

Work progressed on the site, people were hired and a new Web site was
born in a crowded field. In the United States alone, there are almost
2,000 Web sites related to real estate that are being tracked by
Hitwise.com.

"It’s very fragmented. There are so many sites," said Bill Tancer,
general manager of global research in the San Francisco office of
Hitwise.com.

Tancer said the Web site’s drop-and-drag approach is a positive.

"It’s not just enough to include (many sites) in one place. You’ve got
to make it digestible and no one has been able to pull that one off
yet," he said.

Still, Tancer pointed out that a lot of real estate agents already include community information on their Web sites.

Munshi said his Web site will make money through advertising from local
businesses that want more prominent placing on the Terabitz Web site
and revenue-sharing agreements with other real estate Web sites.

"People will want to partner with us to get advertising and drive
traffic," said Munshi, adding that he expects to make an announcement
soon about some upcoming deals.

Currently, the site is designed to only work with existing home
listings but plans are in the works to add new-home listings, he said.

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