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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

April 2, 2007 at 10:59 AM

Zillow founder’s Bill Gates story

I didn’t have room in today’s column on Zillow‘s outlook to include an Old Seattle/Bill Gates anecdote shared by Lloyd Frink, Zillow’s co-founder and president.

Frink, like Gates, fell for programming as a kid and went to Lakeside.

Their mothers also happened to be friends, so Frink ended up meeting Gates at one of Lakeside’s annual auction fundraisers. Gates was impressed enough to hire the 13-year-old as an intern in 1979.

“So I took the bus from Madison Park to downtown Seattle, (then) all the way over to Bellevue a couple of times a week,” Frink recalled

He also worked there during his summer vacations for 10 years, each time coming back to find Microsoft had grown “twice as big as the year before.”

After graduating from Stanford, Frink joined Microsoft in 1988 and then in 1994 joined the initial team that built Expedia, along with Rich Barton, the other founder of Zillow and the company’s chairman and chief executive.

P.S. For the sake of transparency, I should add that Zillow briefed me on upcoming features. I alluded to those in the column without being specific.

The company showed the new stuff to me and separately to other reporters on condition we hold it until the formal announcement is made. This is routine practice. Companies say it’s intended to give everyone a chance for individual briefings and the ability to publish their stories at the same time. (Yet these schedules are often set to create a news pop or accommodate a particular publication, pundit or event …).

I was upfront with them and said I was planning to write about the company today regardless of the embargo, so we split the interview between a general discussion and a review of the new stuff. Stay tuned for the rest.

P.S.: Zillow spokesman Amy Bohutinsky noted that the 4 million visitors in February data point came from the company’s internal tracking, and the Hitwise data gave relative market share.

Comments | Topics: Bill Gates, Microsoft, Startups

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