Archive for September, 2006

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.

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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.