Apartment List, an apartment search engine that uses Facebook to personalize results, is rounding out its offerings today with the launch of its new “Roommates” app for Android, which helps connect potential roomies. An iOS version will be released as soon as it receives approval from the App Store.
The app pulls information from Facebook to create a profile that includes a person’s age, education, and workplace. Users then add in budget, preferred neighborhoods, and hobbies. People who have mutually indicated they want to chat will be notified and can start up a conversation in private messaging.
When people’s primary option for finding roommates is Craigslist, Facebook provides an extra level of validation, Apartment List CEO John Kobs told us. Potential roommates can see their mutual friends as a way to get a second opinion on each other, which will undoubtedly give users a better sense of safety. The use of Facebook makes sense as Apartment List is already integrated with the social network to personalize apartment recommendations.
Although the app is only available to San Franciscans at this point, it will be expanding to New York next, followed by Chicago, Kobs said. Last month, Apartment List released another mobile app for on-the-go apartment searches.
Apartment List, which launched at TechCrunch Disrupt SF in September 2011, sees more than 1.2 million monthly visitors. The company has been profitable for three years now without raising from VCs, Kobs said, and reached 10 million in revenue last year. They are on track to make between 18 and 20 million this year, he added.
With no shortage of sites looking to become the premier apartment search destination — Lovely, PadMapper, and SocialRent, to name just a few — Apartment List is hoping to stand out on its transparency, an uphill battle in a notoriously murky market. Kobs said their metric for that is the number of posted photos of each apartment, an average of 14.5, which does give a clearer sense for the space than most sites provide. The goal is to become a true marketplace, and adding a roommate search to their offerings is a step in that direction.
Apartment List’s plans are broader than apartments, though. As we reported in November, the site has plans to branch out into multiple marketplaces, including autos. At that time, Apartment List had brought on board as an adviser Simon Rothman, the founder and global vice president of eBay Motors who grew it into a global business that represents one-third of eBay’s revenue.
As Apartment List builds out its search offerings, Kobs has his sights set beyond the many small competitors in the apartment listings category.
“We dream about beating Craig.”