This billionaire sold 3 companies doing the same thing

PLUS how he did it and the same steps you can follow

GM. This is Work "After" Work, the business newsletter that’s as satisfying as hitting a hole-in-one in mini golf.

Here’s how we’re starting the week:

  • 💻 The billionaire who sold 3 companies doing the same thing

  • 😂 Meme of the day

BILLY OF THE MONTH

You know what’s crazy? Having over a billion dollars.

And the only way to really get a massive amount of money (what I’m calling $10 million or more) is to start a business and today I’m going to tell you about a guy who followed one simple thesis and is now worth 2.1 billion dollars.

What is the thesis?

“Information wants to be free.”

That’s it.

It might sound simple - that’s because it is in concept.

So who’s this guy worth $2 billion?

His name is Richard Barton.

He’s the founder of:

  • Zillow

  • Glassdoor

  • Expedia

Each of these companies make information more accessible.

Zillow - previously real estate agents would gatekeeper all housing information on the MLS platform that only they had access to. Zillow changed that and now I can look at how much homes go for in my area, what it sold for in the past, and the local school ratings. This is a 12.2 billion dollar business.

Glassdoor - when you apply for a company you #1, want to know how it is to work there. Is it a toxic culture, are the managers nice? And #2, what are other people at the company making? Previously applicants would only be able to get this information by talking to a friend at the company if they had one. Now you can see how workers rate the executives, benefits, and culture. This business was sold for $1.2 billion.

Expedia - back in the day when you wanted to go on vacation you pretty much had to go through a travel agent. They had all the transportation data, hotel ratings and information, airfare options, and touristy places to visit. Now with Expedia, you can book a hotel, rental car, and plane ticket all on one platform. This is a giant business worth $17.6 billion.

So this “Information wants to be set free” motto got me thinking… Where else can this be applied? Are there any industries today where data is still hard for consumers to get?

I think yes, and I’ve got 3 great ideas for you guys:

1. Pricing for enterprise software

Software companies lock up their pricing tighter than Fort Knox.

There’s one way to get it - hop on the phone with their salesperson and get pitched on why you need to purchase the software today.

This is not only an annoying process but extremely time consuming as well. Many companies need software for payroll, CRMs, email marketing, ERP systems, project management - you name it.

And the sucky thing is, a big chunk of these companies first find out how much your business makes then charge accordingly. There’s no price transparency.

Enterprise software pricing is essentially a black box and nobody knows if they’re getting a good deal or not.

Fix this by providing a website, similar to something like nomadlist.com where it shows the price of each software and maybe some ratings, simple as that.

If this idea is interesting, read this on how to start it.

2. Freelancers and agencies rating service

Agencies are great. They allow companies to do one-off specialized projects without hiring an employee and then figuring out what to do with them after the project is over.

The problem is a lot of companies don't know what these agencies are like to work with until it’s too late. The contract is already signed and now they have to deal with the team, or go with another agency and lose at least a portion of the money they paid.

Create a rating system for agencies, similar to Glassdoor where customers can leave reviews and get in contact.

Or write the reviews yourself. Go to these agencies acting as a business, ask who they’ve worked with in the past, then reach out to them. Past companies will usually give honest feedback since they have nothing to lose.

You can then charge for access to this list of “Top Tier Design Agencies” for example.

3. Company software stacks

The easiest thing you can do as an entrepreneur is build something you already know is going to work aka copying successful businesses.

This is why I love the idea of starting HVAC companies or agencies. They’re proven to work and there are thousands of businesses making millions a year doing it.

Now think about all the new businesses that are started every day.

If you were looking to build a similar business to your local HVAC service company doing $10 million a year, you’d want to know what payroll software they use, how they communicate with their customers (is there a software that integrates into their website?), what lead gen software they use to get more customers, their email marketing software, etc.

This would allow you to get up and running quickly and efficiently.

What would your website look like?
The user inputs their area code and it shows a list of local businesses and their estimated revenue. If the user wants a dive deep to see their business model and technology stack, that’s going to cost a couple hundred dollars.

For an entrepreneur, this is a small price to pay for starting something that could make millions in 2-5 years.

Now if you made it this far you’re probably asking “How do these businesses make money since most are free??”

Glassdoor and Zillow are completely free. How do they make money?

For Glassdoor it’s job listings - $250 per listing for companies.

For Zillow, it’s a few ways:

#1 - property management companies pay to advertise their listings to avoid vacancies

#2 - premier services for real estate agents (essentially a full profile on the RE agent with past listings)

#3 - ads from mortgage lenders

It’s all about incentives
If you’re banking on users leaving reviews on your site, ensure there is clear value for doing so. Or if you’re trying to get customers to pay for proprietary data, market it properly to show the value.

I hope this newsletter was inspiring cause I sure had a lot of fun writing it! If you have any questions let me know but for now - happy hustling! 👊

MEME OF THE DAY

😂😂

That's all I got for ya today folks!!

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DISCLAIMER: None of this is financial advice. This newsletter is strictly educational and is not investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any assets or to make any financial decisions. Please be careful and do your own research.

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