The key to this CEO's success: Make sure you hire well

Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff's first business was hit hard early on.

Rascoff left his investment banking job to co-found Hotwire during the first internet boom.

"Things were going very, very well until the bubble burst," Rascoff told CNBC. Things got worse for the online travel company after 9/11.

"Nobody traveled for months," Rascoff said.

After Hotwire recovered, the company was acquired by IAC/InterActiveCorp, the parent company of Expedia at the time, for $665 million in cash plus $20 million in options and warrants in 2003.

"Every start-up, every company has challenges. The most important thing is to try to build a team that you work well with, one that can rally behind the same mission together," the 40-year-old CEO said.

Rascoff went on to join real-estate website Zillow in 2005 and served as chief operations officer, chief financial officer and vice president of marketing before getting tapped as CEO in 2010. Rascoff helped lead the company to its initial public offering in which the company opened at $60 a share, up 200 percent from its $20 pricing.

In the fourth quarter of 2015, Zillow Group brands saw approximately 124 million average monthly unique users, up 61 percent from the same period last year. The company has a $3 billion market cap.

Spencer Rascoff, Zillow at the Iconic conference in Seattle, April 5, 2016.
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Spencer Rascoff, Zillow at the Iconic conference in Seattle, April 5, 2016.

Rascoff said the greatest key to his success has been his ability to hire well.

"By far the biggest contributor to my success has been my ability to recruit and retain great people around me," Rascoff said.

"Surround yourself with people that are even better than you. If your direct reports are amazing, that will reflect upon you," he said.