Redfin Turns Profitable

July 10, 2009

Glenn

According to CEO Glenn Kelman – Redfin has turned profitable.

I did not think it would/could happen – Glenn proved me wrong.

Congratulations to an outstanding team that has executed (way) beyond my expectations.

Sure, Im an arse too…

February 22, 2008

but at least i pick(ed) on bigger, fatter targets.

i hear a bath in tomato juice does the trick

2008 Predictions

December 30, 2007

Real Estate 2.0 Predictions

Redfin will run out of money. Unable to raise another round, they will enter the TC deadpool towards the end of 2008. The company’s assets will be listed on Ebay and the reserve price will not be met. Glenn Kelman (CEO) will go back to school, get that MBA from Harvard and become an owner/operator of a Quiznos sandwich franchise. Subway sandwich artists around the country will cry foul.

Since every major real estate company that signed up with Trulia has now inked deals with 993+ me-too real estate search sites (including my 14 y/o neighbors startup), Trulia’s initial successes have become null-and-void. Agents and brokers will continue to feed their listings to as many sites as possible, making it impossible for Trulia to gain a competitive advantage or any real traction. Trulia will continue to operate throughout 2008 but Bjorn and Sven will sell cheap (2nd quarter 2009) and start their search for the next big thing (they will utilize heat map technology to discover their next endeavour).

Zillow will continue to display declining values to a shrinking pool of real estate masochists. Agents will realize that paying $0.01 per ad impression ($10CPM) to put themselves in front of the wrong audience is a losing proposition. Zillow investors will push the company to ramp up the marketing spend and we will see a Zillow commercial during the Super Bowl. Zillow’s revenues will not support an IPO and the company will be sold to Yahoo! towards the end of 2009 or beginning of 2010 for a small profit.

Craigslist will introduce a small fee to post in the real estate section. Everyone will pay it.

Greg Swann will start a cult. The BloodhoundBlog Unchained Conference is the opening he has been crafting in his head since he was 4 years old. All conference attendees will be deloused, forced to remove their shoes/socks and don a robe of hemp for the initial weekend of re-education. Their brokers will never see or hear from them again.

Redfin on 60 Minutes

May 14, 2007

Well,

I had to come out of retirement seclusion for this one…

Like most everyone else who reads this blog from time to time – I watched 60 Minutes this evening.

Where do I start?

1. Let’s see…Let’s use a Harvard MBA/CEO to represent one side of a story and a “certified home stager” with her name on her car to represent an entire industry.

2. Let’s allow the Harvard MBA to spit out unchecked, inflated numbers to a world-wide audience and throw a surprise attack question at the “certified home stager” who was probably doing everything she could to stop her knees from knocking.

3. Let’s allow the Harvard MBA to tell the world how inflated real estate fees are – but not ask him about his companies profitability…or lack thereof.

It is basically the same as some guy sitting outside of Best Buy selling LCD TV’s for $25 per unit. He loses money on every TV he sells, but 60 Minutes still allows him to go on television and tell the world that Best Buy is ripping everyone off.

How can Redfin attack any business model when they have no business model? Losing money on every transaction is not a business model.

I could feel my face turning red (like redfins books) when Kelman looked at the camera and told the world that he has an agent closing 8 deals every week. I believe that was a lie…and I invite him to comment on this post about that line. Redfin released their numbers a while back…the math is pretty simple…it was a lie.

This was a bogus segment. Rush Limbaugh shows less bias.

I will also throw this in…

I think it hilarious that Redfin announced that they have entered the Boston market. Calling one agent working out of his basement “entering a market” is pretty fricking funny.

Later…

Update: Glenn Kelman stops by Real Estate 2.x and defends his line about the redfin agent that “closes 8 deals a week.”  Also points out that he does not have a Harvard MBA…

I’m not sure why that Harvard MBA was locked in my brain…must be the TC effect.

I do have to chuckle at this line from Mr. Kelman in the comments:

“Redfin generates profit on each transactions, but does not complete enough transactions to turn a profit” 

Sounds like CEO, VC seeking double-speak to me.  Redfin actually generates revenue on each transaction Glenn, it is not called a profit until the numbers lose that minus sign you have in front of them.

How is Redfin Doing?

November 2, 2006

I am asking agents/brokers in Seattle & San Fran to provide me with some data – or maybe the good folks at Redfin can stop by and let us know.  I want to find out how Redfin is doing.  Does anyone have any current numbers?  How many properties are currently listed through Redfins $2k flat fee?  How many deals has redfin closed (either side)?  What are the numbers?

If you have any info, you can leave it here (as a comment) or send me an email at realestate20@gmail.com

Maybe I could find this data at the Redfin site…but the have made some changes (I have not been to their site in a while) – I cannot even figure out how to find the “for sale” listings anymore.

Trouble for Zillow

October 26, 2006

Funny – the same day techcrunch writes up zillow (again), they get hit with multiple FTC complaints.

“Zillow is placing the American dream of homeownership at risk for countless working families,” says John Taylor, NCRC President and CEO. “For a company that represents to consumers that they are the ‘Kelley Blue Book of Homes,’ this is a very dangerous situation. We call upon the FTC to intervene and ensure that Americans receive accurate appraisals and valuation information to protect the single most important investment of their lives: their home.”

“NCRC and its members are aware of a growing number of real estate and lending professionals who use the misinformation on Zillow.com to perpetrate fraud in our nation’s markets, often by targeting consumers in violation of Federal and State Fair Housing Laws.” continues Taylor. “During this time in our economy when the real estate market is changing and consumers are already at risk of being over extended due to the increased access to non- traditional loans, Zillow’s misinformation exacerbates the situation. Practices like theirs undermines the critical importance of valuation protections that benefit consumers and lenders alike, and guide the actions of all valuation professionals.”

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Companies That Know They Suck

October 17, 2006

companies that suck

Here is a funny list of domain name registrants I put together…Since this is a real estate related site – I started out with a few of the “big real estate guys.”

Domain Name: HOMEGAINSUCKS.COM

Registrant:

HomeGain.com, Inc.
1250 45th Street
Emeryville, CA 94608
US

Record expires: 22-Dec-2007
Record created: 22-Dec-2004

——————————-

Domain Name: ZILLOWSUCKS.COM

Registrant:

Zillow.com
999 Third Avenue
Suite 4600
Seattle, Washington 98104
United States

Created on: 01-Sep-05
Expires on: 10-Nov-07

——————————-

Domain Name: TRULIASUCKS.COM

Registrant:

Trulia
500 Treat Ave
San Francisco, California 94010
United States

Created on: 21-Sep-05
Expires on: 21-Sep-07

——————————-

Domain name: upssucks.com

Registrant:
 
United Parcel Service
340 MacArthur Blvd
Mahwah NJ
07430
US
 
Created on: 1997-12-31
Expires on: 2006-12-30

——————————-

Domain Name: googlesucks.com

Registrant:

Google Inc. (DOM-258923)
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View CA
94043 US
 
Created on: 1999-Oct-15.
Expires on: 2007-Oct-15.

——————————-

Domain Name: YAHOOSUX.COM

Registrant:

Yahoo! Inc.
701 First Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
US

Created on: Fri, Sep 24, 2004
Expires on: Mon, Sep 24, 2007

——————————-

Domain Name: AMAZONSUCKS.COM

Registrant:

Amazon Technologies, Inc.
P.O. Box 8102
Reno, Nevada 89507
United States

Created on: 08-Apr-02
Expires on: 15-Apr-08

——————————-

Domain Name: aolsucks.com

Registrant:

AOL LLC
22000 AOL Way
Dulles, VA 20166
US

Creation Date: 22-Jan-1996
Expiration Date: 23-Jan-2007

——————————-

BLOGGERSUCKS.COM = Available!

——————————-

Domain Name: CNNSUCKS.COM

Registrant:

Cable News Network LP, LLLP
One CNN Center
Box 105366
Atlanta, GA 30348
US

Record expires: 01-Mar-2007
Record created: 01-Mar-1999

——————————-

Domain Name: FEEDBURNERSUCKS.COM

Registrant:

Burning Door
211 W. Wacker Dr.
Suite 1130
Chicago, IL 60606
US

Record expires: 08-Jun-2008
Record created: 08-Jun-2005

——————————-

Domain Name: BLOCKBUSTERSUCKS.COM

Registrant:

Blockbuster Inc.
1201 Elm Street
Dallas, TX 75270
US

Record expires: 22-Nov-2006
Record created: 06-Sep-2003

——————————-

Domain Name: GODADDYSUCKS.COM

Registrant:

GoDaddy.com
14455 N Hayden Rd.
Suite 219
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
United States

Created on: 15-Apr-02
Expires on: 15-Apr-07

——————————-

Domain Name: ORBITZSUCKS.COM

Registrant:

Orbitz
200 South Wacker Drive
Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60606
US

Record expires: 06-Aug-2007
Record created: 06-Aug-2003

Was Mark Cuban working for Google?

October 13, 2006

I was talking with some friends last night about the Google / YouTube acquisition and suddenly it came to me – Mark Cuban must have been working for Google!  Could it be true?  Does it make sense?

On September 17th (about 3 weeks ago), Cuban wrote a post titled The Coming Dramatic Decline of Youtube.  For no apparent reason, Mark Cuban started a public relations campaign against Youtube – and from that day on, he was on the attack.  He was blogging, he was doing radio, and he was doing the TV circuit – he was out to lower the valuation of Youtube.

Now when you sit back and think about it, who would benefit from such an attack?  Mark Cuban?  Youtube?  In the long run, there was only one entity that could benefit from all of this negative press – Google.

Now I am not much of a conspiracy theory type of guy – but this looks kind of obvious to me.  A few members of the billionaire club get together and discuss the fastest growing website in history, figure out a plan to decimate its valuation, and make the acquisition. 

Big businesses go to great lengths to ensure they come out on top every day…just take a look at the HP fiasco – if companies are sending spies into news rooms to figure out who is talking to who – do you think that a few billionaires could not get together and create a negative pr campaign against an acquisition target?  That would be child’s play for these guys.

Now let’s look at the Youtube founders – a couple of very young, inexperienced, highly mathematical type guys.  Very smart in many, many ways, but maybe not so smart in some other ways.  I know that if I had the fastest growing website in the history of the Internet, and all of a sudden there are 10+ news reports per day talking about how we are going to be sued out of business, I would be pretty nervous.  I would probably get so nervous that I would be looking for an exit – and I would probably not worry about leaving some money on the table…As a matter of fact, I would probably be willing to put a billion dollar deal together in three days.

I’m not saying that these guys did not get very, very, very rich.  I’m just wondering what kind of money they could have got if Mark Cuban was not involved for the past 3 weeks.  Anyway you look at it – Mark Cuban cost these guys some big money – I’m just wondering if he was compensated.

What do you think?  Could I be right?

Zillow Post Update

October 12, 2006

I was just searching through my “blog spam” and found this comment on my Zillow Post.  The “commenter” did not leave a website link…but I thought you may be interested in his take.  I happen to agree.

–start comment–

Here’s a little question that I think will be fun and interesting to answer… how many visitors will Zillow need to attract to generate the revenue, earnings, and market value that will satisfy their investor’s?

Assumptions
– $50M is all the VC money they raise
– 60% of the company is now owned by VC’s, giving them a current valuation of $83M
– 5 year time horizon to exit
– VC’s want a 75% IRR

This means this now $83M company needs to be worth $1.36B in 5 years for the VC’s to get their IRR.

Housevalues (SOLD) currently is worth $162M with a P/E of 14.7. So if the market values Zillows at the same P/E, it implies Zillow needs to be earning $92.6M in profits by 2011. Ok, so what does that mean for their top-line?

If you assume Zillow will be 2X as profitable as Move.com (3.5% net margin in Q2 07), Zillow need to generate top-line revenue of $1.32B in 2011 to get the requisite $92.6M that will give them the $1.36B market valuation.

So how many users must Zillow attract to get $1.32B in revenue?

Well, it depends on their average CPM (they do claim to be an advertising business do they not, so that’s a fair measure). Let’s assume they generate a very high CPM of $10 per 1,000 page views (Myspace is getting sub $1 CPM’s).

1.316B / 10 = 131 million ad units X 1000 page views per ad unit = 131,684,095,177 page impressions.

Assuming each visitor to their site views 10 pages, Zillow must attract 13.2B visitors to their site PER YEAR by 2011.

Considering their are 6.5B people on earth… every man woman and child on earth must visit Zillow 2.0 times EACH per year in order for Zillow to generate the profits, via an advertising model, that will create the profits to support the market value that will pay back the investors.

My take… Advertising is not really their model.

–end comment–

Reminder: Defrag your hard drive today!

October 12, 2006

Most of us understand the benefits of defragmenting our hard drive(s) on a regular basis – it will greatly improves a PC’s speed and performance – but most of us put it off for months and months (or longer).  This is a just a reminder to defrag your hard drive today!  If you unsure about how to go about this, here are some simple instructions for Windows XP

  1. From the [START] menu, select [Programs]
  2. From [Programs] select [Accessories]
  3. From [Accessories] select [System Tools]
  4. From [System Tools] select [Disk Fragmenter]
  5. Click “Defragment” (You can skip “Analyze”)

Depending on how long it has been since you last defragmented your disk drive, this process could take a long time – maybe even a couple of hours.  Be patient – the results are worth it!

Note: I like to use “Disk Cleanup” (also under System Tools) prior to running the disk defragmenter.  Also – If it has been a while since you last ran the defragmenter, you may want to run it 2-3 times.  The second and third time will take only a few minutes.

When did the definition of “hacker” change?

October 12, 2006

I remember back in the day (you know, back when we were all using AOL) that the term “hacker” had a negative connotation.  It was reserved for those scary computer geniuses that wore the black hats and lived in secret IRC chat rooms located at the center of the Earth.

Today the term “hacker” is used to describe any and all programmers and/or developers who build web 2.0 applications, social networks and other ajax ridden crap.  The term has lost its original meaning.

Somewhere along the line – the word “hacker” went the way of the word “surfer” – it was taken over by the less deserving.

Just thought I would point it out.

Great Idea – Not Much of a Chance

October 10, 2006

Pay Per Post

I have been following PayPerPost.com since they launched.  What a great concept – excellent ORIGINAL idea!  I know that some hardcore bloggers think that this is a death sentence for the blogosphere…but it is impossible to deny – it is a great idea…period.   

PayPerPost recently raised $3M from VC’s – and this is where I have to offer up my two cents…

Unfortunately, first to market is not always an advantage (i.e. yahoo/excite, aol, angelfire/geocities, etc..) – second or third to market often finishes first. 

I think the management/shareholders of PayPerPost would have been better served if they offered consulting services to technorati and/or feedburner and/or blogger and/or wordpress and/or (you get the idea) – because they just provided these leading “blog” companies with a great/excellent/genius revenue model.  Easy to imitate with absolutely no barrier to entry and much, much larger userbases. 

These leaders have immediate & instant access to millions of bloggers.  (I expect to see a pop up screen the next time I login to real estate 2.x.)

So that’s my 2 cents.  I will stress that I think the guys/gals that started PayPerPost are very, very bright people, they came up with an awesome new model – but in the long run, PayPerPost just created a revenue model for the big guys, that until now, had no revenue model.

 

Yea..I’m still here

October 8, 2006

I apologize for not posting lately…maybe its because one of my favorite anonymous bloggers was recently outed.

Google Promotes Blog Spam

September 27, 2006

I had a weird blog spam today – so I looked into it a little deeper.  Come to find out that Google and some other huge (and I mean huge) companies are actually sponsoring what amounts to a blog spamming contest.

Shaastra 2006 – “…an annual technical festival of IIT Madras. We celebrate the spirit of Engineering”

Looks like they also celebrate spam on my blog  – and they got Google to sponsor it.

Will Zillow Die?

September 27, 2006

Zillow 

I decided to sit down and give you my take on the all mighty king of the hill.  While I have some things to say about Zillow, two of my favorite bloggers have already said much of it (better than I ever could)…I believe they have effectively picked apart the foundation of Zillow’s business – so I am going to try to look at Zillow from another angle.

As we all know, Zillow has raised in excess of $50M from various venture capitalists. 

My first question would be – if Rich Barton believes in the viability of this company/business model, why didn’t he maintain 100% ownership of the stock?  $50 million is a drop in the bucket for this guy – he literally has 60+ stacks of $50M, and he couldn’t wouldn’t bet one of them on his brainchild?  If he doesn’t believe in it enough to bet big on it, why in the hell would anyone else?  What are these VC’s thinking?

My second question would be – How are they going to make money?  I know the real estate profession is infamous for throwing money away on bad/useless/anti-ROI advertising, but come on.  I would think hope that most agents are smart enough to figure out that their odds of actually hooking up with a buyer or seller through a banner ad on Zillow are about nil.  Visitors to Zillow are not buyers and sellers searching for a real estate agent to represent them in an upcoming transaction.  The good/bad thing about the web (depending on which side your on) is that results are easily measurable.  If you are an advertiser wasting money, you can find that out quickly.  If you are a website selling ads, you could be screwed.

My third question would be – If the real estate market continues downward, do you think Zillow’s traffic will go up?  I am pretty sure that Zillow’s traffic will be directly related to property prices.  Everyone loves to see how much money they are making – it is fun, but most people are not going logon each day to watch their zestimate go down (accurate or not).  Personally, I find the site quite boring…one visit seems like enough.

My fourth question would be – if the validity of their purpose has been picked apart, and their revenue model is full of fatal flaws – when do they run out of money? 

Maybe we should start a pool?

What’s Home Depot Smoking?

September 22, 2006

Get the answer here.  I think a certain graphic designer might be a Willie Nelson fan.

Have a great weekend.

The Redfulia of Apartments announces it has $20M to burn.

September 21, 2006

mynewplace.com

Mynewplace.com, another web 2.0, google map, ajax ridden, pathetically slow Internet startup announced a $12M VC round the other day – bringing the total up to $20M.

So what are they going to do with the $20,000,000?  That’s easy, give it away to anyone willing to use their website (sound familiar?). 

Need an apartment?  Get $100 cash back (your choice – a check up to 10 weeks later –or- the coveted amazon gift certificate) when you locate your next apartment using their website.  After scrolling down the search results and waiting for the pages to load, I think you could break it down to about $6-$6.50/hr.

Oh…did I mention you are not allowed to actually look at an apartment until you provide them with your email address?  Genius!  (Note to self: the next time you launch a website with $20M, make sure to build in a guaranteed loss of users)

So this is the point where I give this startup, and the VC’s that backed them, some insight.  It is the same advice I have offered up before.  As a consumer, you will only get one chance to bog down my browser and piss me off by asking for my email address to use your site.  It’s a simple frick’n recipe folks – it’s called the path of least resistance – simple is always better.

Oh…one more tip – the next time you announce a major round of VC, make sure your blog has been updated within the last 40 days. 

The Elevator Pitch

September 20, 2006

Dear Venture Capitalists,

Over the past several months, my team and I have been working diligently on what we feel will be the business model that revolutionizes the real estate industry.  Our sophisticated, web 2.0 technology allows users to search for properties via an interactive map.  Buyers that choose to purchase a home through our online service will receive a 150% rebate on the full purchase price while perspective sellers receive $20,000 to consider using our free services.

The management team is willing to relocate to Seattle.  We have embedded our website below for your review.

 

—————————————————

redfulia

stand by

Petition 2.0

September 20, 2006

real estate 2.x

Redfin, I respectfully request that you allow me to revert back to “real estate 2.0” as the title of this blog.

———-

As you all know, a couple of days ago Redfin asked me to change the name of this two-day old, free, non-commercial, non-revenue generating wordpress blog.  Eric Heller, the director of marketing, felt that the original title of my blog – real estate 2.0 – infringed on Redfin’s real estate brokerage service mark – so I changed the name of the blog to real estate 2.x within 24 hours of receiving his request.

From the beginning, I felt that this was a barrel of bullshit.  The words real estate 2.0 are all over the web – it is a generic description – not of a service, not of a product – but of a genre…something that should not be trademark-able.  But, I decided to change the name of this blog to real estate 2.x – because I do not need a lawyer up my ass about the name of a frick’n blog.

The response I have received from the real estate (and others) blogging community has been overwhelming.  I want to thank you all for the interaction, debate and support.  I think that most of us believe Redfin would not have been pissy about the name of this blog if I did not write up a negative review of their website in my second post.

So here is the deal…

I have received some comments and emails from some very smart people.  It sounds like the best way for me to use the original name of this blog (which I would like to do) is to file a trademark for the name of a blog vs. Redfin’s service mark for a real estate brokerage.  The thing is, I do not want the trademark (I’m not trying to make money from this) and I do not give a shit if anyone else uses the words and numbers.  They have already been in use for a couple of years…and like I said, it is a generic description.

Although this is one of those corny things you normally would not do (and I sure as hell would not try to start), I am asking all of the readers of this blog to sign my petition to get the name back.  I would like to ask redfin to allow me to reinstate the original title of this blog…and I have a feeling – you/we can make it happen.

How do you sign?  Leave a comment.  Thanks everyone. 

P.S.  I am going to get back on topic tomorrow today.

Stop The Presses

September 19, 2006

This just in: Redfin Does Not Own Registered Trademark “Real Estate 2.0″

Is this solid?  What would you do?

Real Estate 2.0 Renaming Ceremony

September 19, 2006

real estate 2.0 grave

I received a ton of great ideas for the re-naming of the real estate 2.0 blog – thank you all very much for participating in the contest!  You can see most of the entries here.

I actually received a few new-name ideas from the real estate 2.0 trademark owners themselves (via email).  Eric Heller (Redfin’s director of marketing) suggested:

1. Real Estate Revolutions
tagline: Revolutions in Real Estate

2. Real Estate Technology Wrap
tagline: The Future of Real Estate Technology (sorry about this one…I just love Joel’s blog and couldn’t resist)

3. Real Tech in Real Estate

And Sebastian Simsch (Redfin’s director of business development) offered:

1. New Millennium Real Estate
2. Next Generation Real Estate

Again, I enjoyed reading all of the comments, but in the end, I came up with real estate 2.x – not what I want, but we all know how the song goes.

I have to say, I believe that Eric @ Redfin is a good guy, by making me change the name of this blog, he is only doing what he thinks is best for Redfin (even if he is wrong and misguided).  He even invited me to lunch (if I am ever in Seattle) and asked me if I would be interested in participating in an upcoming focus group – unfortunately, I am not planning on visiting Seattle anytime soon – and I am not a focus group type of guy.

I appreciate the thought guys (Eric & Sebastian) – but it seems like you still don’t get it.  I started this non-commercial, non-revenue generating blog to voice my personal opinion on the current trends in the online real estate sector (and web 2.0 in general).  Even the names you recommended suggest very slow loading, zero search engine visibility, Internet pure-play, cash bleeding fads are the future of real estate (and the Internet).  I am here to tell you that you’re wrong…that’s the point of this blog.

New technology, if implemented poorly, does not make for a better experience.  This is where my non-trademarked tagline comes in – simple is always better.  One-click, speedy navigation will always trump two, three, or twenty-click navigation – period…Even when the end result is the coveted satellite view of a roof.

Now on with the show.

Cease and Desist

September 18, 2006

cry baby

Well, it took a whopping 2 business days to receive a comment and then an email from the good folks at redfin.  Eric Heller, director of marketing, just informed me (very kindly) that Redfin Corp. owns the words (and numbers) Real Estate 2.0

Here is the email:

—-start—-

Hi,

Thanks for your quick response.  You may have seen that we had a competition back in April for a new tagline:

[Read Here]

The winner got $500 and we got the rights to a new tagline, which we trademarked and have been using in commerce since June, 2006.  The tagline, Real Estate 2.0, is now a registered trademark of the Redfin Corporation, which you can research at: http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=searchss&state=kpe5ta.1.1.  (I’ve included the results of a search on their site below for your convenience.)

While we recognize the right for your blog to exist and look forward to many future posts from a long-overdue blog on new technology real estate sites, we’d like to respectfully ask that you change the name to a term that does not infringe on our mark.

Thanks for your understanding and quick action on this.

Eric Heller
Director of Marketing
Redfin.com – Find, Buy and Sell Homes Online

—-end—-

As you can see, Eric seems like a very nice guy, he was sure to use just enough lube.  He could have been much nastier – but he really does seem like a good guy.

So, since I cannot use Real Estate 2.0 as the name of my blog any longer (I will change it within 24 hours), I have decided to have my own contest. 

Unfortunately, I will not be able to offer a $500 grand prize (I do not have $8M to give away), but I will share the trademark with you (If you pay for the trademark).

I do not think Redfin owns Real Estate 2 0 or Real Estate 2..0 or Real Estate Two Point Oh…so…

Please send suggestions to: realestate20@gmail.com (or better yet – leave a comment)

Thanks for your help.

trulia – I don’t like it

September 15, 2006

trulia

Today I am going to take a look at trulia.  I am going to point out some strengths and some weaknesses, and then I will give you my take.

Strengths:

1. Although trulia is considered “web 2.0,” they have done an almost flawless job with their web 1.0 SEO efforts (with the exception of adhering to w3c standards – their San Diego listings page shows 182 errors).  The site’s architecture is set up exactly the way it should be…unfortunately, their programmers wrote some ugly code.  It’s nice to see a 2.0 company that still worries about search engines, even if their programming team is what I would consider second rate.

2. Trulia does a great job at implementing RSS feeds.  Although RSS is still very far from being main-stream, geeks love it, and it meshes nicely with real estate.

3. They have been able to do a good job with PR.  PR is the most important strategy for a web 2.0 business today.  When meeting with a VC, you get to say things like “we haven’t spent anything on advertising.”  Then you get to say things like “our growth is organic” or “our growth is viral.”  Everyone likes that.

Weaknesses:

1. No inventory.  Sure, trulia has a ton of listings…maybe 2% of the listings in each market they serve (probably less).  Why in the hell would Joe Buyer want to look at 2% of the available homes for sale in his market when he can visit any local IDX site and view everything?  So he can play with a map? 

2. Slow, slow, slow.  When you use trulia it feels like you are on a dial-up connection.  The pages take forever to load – if you accidentally mouse over something, it slows everything else down.  The site is just dreadfully slow.

3. I think the two points above are fatal.

My Take:

First: What it comes down to is this.  Using trulia is a waste of time.  If I am a serious buyer, I do not want to visit 15 websites (not even 2 websites) to see what is available.  I want to go to one website – and I do not want it to feel like I am on a 14.4 modem.  Trulia will never have a meaningful percentage of the market (unless they join every MLS in the country).

Second: As far as agents and brokers using trulia – Its pretty simple, trulia is a pimp – and if you feed them all of your listings, you are a whore.  Without your listings, trulia would not exist…they should be paying you for content…not the other way around.

Sure, they may not be charging you anything right now, but a good crack dealer never does.  When you find yourself dependent, you better believe you will be paying the piper. 

If you want to spend your time and money building businesses for other people, give me a call – I can help you out with that.

Redfin will flop like a fish out of water

September 14, 2006

redfin

Seattle startup Redfin, which has raised over $8M, doesn’t have much time left on the dock – they are sucking for air and here is why.

First - Their website just plain sucks.

Q: If their mapping technology is so great, why did they take it off of their homepage?

A:Because everyone left their site while the homepage was loading – that’s why. 

Now, instead of the homepage, the search page takes what feels like an hour to load, then it only takes 50-60 more clicks to zoom in on an area, then only another hour for the map to re-load, then a little more zoom, then another 45 minutes or so. 

Now I get to look at the roof of a home for sale.  Technology rules! 

Sure a few geeks, with nothing else to do, like to use it (I am not ripping on geeks, I am one myself), but the general public wants a fast, easy to use website that they do not have to learn how to use.  Just ask Craig and Sergi.

Second - Their founder recently quit or was fired.  Enough said.

Third - They do not make money. 

Their model will simply not support a business.  They are basically giving away the $8M+ that they have raised to any buyer willing to use their service.  I have news for Redfin – you will not survive on your margins…period.  Impossible.  End of story.

Fourth - They are not doing much business.  In this blog post, they claim to already have two pending in sales in California – after two months in the market.  Two pending sales in two months?  With how much money these guys are spending on PR- that is absolutely horrible.  Their financial backers have to be freak’n out.

In closing,I have to say that I whole-heartedly believe that real estate and the Internet go together like peanut butter and jelly – its a perfect match.  But I think that the VC’s and Entrepreneurs starting these new Real Estate 2.0 companies better get back to basics before they go broke.  Real estate buyers are looking for properties – not the latest widgets.  I understand that adding needless steps to a process is something that some people think is cool – but like parachute pants and fancy flash websites – they are fads that will eventually go away.  When it comes down to it – simple always prevails.

Hello Web 2.0 world!

September 14, 2006

Welcome to Real Estate 2.0. This is my first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

me

I decided to start this blog today because I needed a place to vent.  I am the founder of a small (self-funded) internet real estate startup that does not utilize any of the retarded ajax or ruby on rails technology bullshit that we see oozing all over the web.

I am a strong believer in Web 1.0 – meaning a well built, w3c compliant, search engine friendly, lots of indexed (or index-able) pages, fast loading, old fashioned type website.  You know, the kind that does not have a tag cloud, a 36+ size font, and a google map-mashup on it’s homepage.

Although I will be focusing my energy on the Real Estate 2.0 crowd – I will most likely be biting the ankles of other web 2.0 companies (outside of the real estate industry) as well.


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