Barton is the long-time leader of Zillow Group and a member of several boards.
- Current role:
- Co-Founder and CEO, Zillow Group
- Seattle, WA
- Power 200 Leadership Ranking:
Other notable roles
Barton has served on the Zillow Board of Directors since inception and was Executive Chairman from 2010-2019. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Netflix, Artsy and Qurate Retail.
After graduating from Stanford University with a degree in engineering. In 1991, he joined Microsoft as a project manager and in 1994 pitched the idea of an online travel booking portal to Bill Gates. The portal, Expedia, launched as a part of Microsoft in 1996 and spun off as a separate company in 1999. Barton remained as CEO until 2003. Barton was co-founder and chairman of Glassdoor from 2007-1018 and a venture partner at Benchmark Capital from 2005 to 2018.
Barton founded Zillow with partner Lloyd Frink in late 2004 and served as CEO until turning the reins over to Spencer Rascoff in 2010. Barton resumed his position as CEO in 2019 when Rascoff departed.
In his own words
“Look, you have an at-bat, and it takes just as much energy to swing for the fences as it does to bunt. OK. So, why bunt? Why bunt? Why not swing for the fences? I would argue that it is just as likely that you will succeed if you swing for the fences as if you bunt, and the outcome will be much more magical,” Barton told a crowd at a GeekWire event.
How others describe him
A New York Times article noted a common theme among Barton’s successes. “Entrepreneurs are lucky to have one big score. Richard Barton has had a string of them, by repeatedly asking the same simple question: What piece of marketplace information do people crave and don’t have?”
"It's hard to think of someone who is a better starter and entrepreneur and risk taker," Glassdoor cofounder Robert Hohman told Insider. "When I think of CEO archetypes, there are those who can optimize a corporate machine and make it 1% better. Rich is not that guy."
The failure of Zillow Offers prompted considerable disappointment in Barton’s leadership, and he dropped from first to sixth place in the Swanepoel Power 200 ranking as a result. The Real Estate Almanac gave this assessment: “Barton should also be admired for making very difficult decisions very quickly, despite the obvious downside, and the to-be-expected media frenzy to follow. If anyone can turn this situation around, it is Barton…. We think Barton still very much remains one of the most powerful people in residential real estate and despite a drop from No.1 last year, still comfortably deserves a spot in the top 10 most powerful people in real estate.”
Barton and his wife, Sarah Barton, have signed The Giving Pledge, promising to donate the majority of their wealth. The Barton Family Foundation, managed by Sarah Barton, is their primary philanthropic vehicle. Since 2016, the Foundation has donated over $24 million to organizations working to build a better society, including more than $9.6 million to criminal justice reform and racial equity
Did you know?
A quick glance at Barton’s Twitter feed might make you wonder about his apparent interest in Michigan politics. Dig deeper and you’ll discover that Barton’s first cousin is Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.