Zillow Crowns Its Pongfathers

In the beginners' bracket, it came down to a showdown between a VP and a dev guy.

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You want March Madness? For five days this month and through more than 50 hotly contested matches, the passionately trained athletes of Zillow gathered in its 30th-floor cafeteria to get their Ping-Pong on.

While non-players sulked in front of the candy wall and pretended to enjoy foosball, the Ping-Pong table took center stage.

Program managers faced off against email marketing veterans. Industry relations specialists taxed their elbows alongside client experience consultants.

The first recorded Ping-Pong tourney at Zillow since 2010, the event was inspired by GeekWire’s annual Ping-Pong championship. Table regulars Ioan Moldovan, John Cain, Sumiran Pradhan and Chat Ramavajjala were early favorites.

“Two plays stand out: The first involves quick reflexes in self-defense of a quick incoming shot. The second involves chasing down and returning a long shot — sometimes as far back as the kitchen,” recalls exhilarated tournament organizer (and senior software development engineer) Daniel Ellis, who’s now in need of a long vacation.

The tournament was a huge win for the popular Zillow core value, “Z is a Team Sport,” Ellis says. “It’s been a great way for people from different teams to casually interact on a one-to-one basis, especially those teams that don’t have a lot of day-to-day overlap.”

That’s increasingly important as Zillow grows, he explains. “And of course, it being a competition and all, winning is fun!” Ellis quips, touching on another core value here at Zillow Tower.

Just ask Ioan Moldovan, who won the advanced bracket, and Sumiran Pradhan, who aced intermediate.

In the beginners’ category, it came down to a pong-off between Brendan Fruin, a developer on the iOS mobile team, and Tony Small, the VP of sales strategy and operations. The sales guru won.

But no pity for the developer: It was the best of five games.

And now a new season of lunchtime training begins. Unless they’re in the game room.

(You should work for Zillow, don’t you think? Check out our jobs page.)

Photos by Adam Cohn