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Read This Now! => Hunger Makes The Best Sauce

Feb 17 17

Cloud Agent Summit

by Greg Robertson

My company, W+R Studios, is hosting our first big event for customers here in Southern California. We are only about 10 tickets away from selling out. Super proud of our marketing team, led by our director of marketing Frances Brittle, for making this happen and can’t wait till next week! If it goes well we might be coming to a city near you.

Feb 16 17

Inman News to ban “unsanctioned parties”

by Greg Robertson

I guess you gotta fight, for your right, to party.

In an email titled “An update on our event policy…” a representative from Inman News laid down some stringent policy changes regarding its event policy in relation to “unsanctioned parties”.

“In a few short months, nearly 4,000 industry professionals will gather in sunny San Francisco for Inman Connect. Each year, companies host dozens of parties and events that surround the conference, taking advantage of having the best of the industry in one place.

We’ve introduced a special sponsorship level for companies who host satellite events at Connect for 30+ people that provides additional visibility to attendees and influencers they hope to connect with, while ensuring that the Connect attendee experience isn’t compromised.

Due to the negative impact that unsanctioned parties have on the conference, we have implemented a more stringent event policy for companies who choose to host events at and around Inman Connect without directly participating in the conference as a sponsor. The policy will be strictly enforced and violations will result in revocation of attendee badges, speaker spots and other sanctions at the sole discretion of Inman.

Emphasis mine.

I would argue that instead of being a “negative impact” or having the event being “compromised” the amount of industry parties being held around the conference is a huge draw.

No doubt Brad and his team have done a great job in putting together a great show, but threats of revoking badges and speaker slots is pretty draconian by any standard. How is having a party any different than having a meeting in the lobby with someone? What’s next? Do they shut down the lobby bar or Starbucks in order to get more people in to the sessions?

I sincerely hope Inman News reconsiders this policy before Inman Connect in San Francisco.

Feb 16 17

Really Zillow?

by Greg Robertson

Zillow Group nixes manual listing entry for real estate agents, doubles down on direct listing feeds

“Zillow advised agents to check if their MLS provides a listing feed to Zillow Group on its “MLS Checker site.”

“If a feed is available, a Zillow Group team member will be able to answer any questions and help you keep your listings on Zillow and Trulia,” the email said.

But if agents discover their MLS does not provide a direct feed to Zillow Group, the company suggested they ask their brokerage or MLS to start.

“If an MLS feed is not currently available in your market, ask your broker about setting up a free feed with Zillow Group,” the email said. “You can also reach out to your local MLS and request that they establish a feed. Please visit the Zillow Help Center for our list of MLS contact information.”

I don’t like it. Their “MLS Checker” (maybe “hit list” would be more appropriate) site links to the “contact me” page of the MLS/Association. To me the whole process is set up to make the MLS look like the bad guy. Just poor form in my opinion.

At least they are stoping short of having the agent send a “robo-email” like RPR did.

Feb 15 17

Looking for a new gig?

by Greg Robertson


“Does this sound like you?

You love marketing. You are schooled in the dark arts of digital, print, advertising, video, direct mail, social media. The tactics matter, but so does the big picture. You live, sleep and dream about all the ways brands can impact the world.

You love branding. You can recite Carl Jung’s 12 archetypes, have a copy of “The Hero and the Outlaw” on your desk and have read “Lovemarks” more than once. You’ve discovered the 3rd hidden element in the FedEx logo and can use your vast knowledge of identity and story to guide work and keep clients enthralled.”

Find out this job and more on the Vendor Alley Job Board.

Feb 13 17

FBS doubles MLS user base

by Greg Robertson

FBS Doubles Real Estate MLS Customer Base to 200,000+ in Four YearsFlexmls System Fuels Company’s Record Growth

Michael Wurzer, who is celebrating his 20th year as CEO at FBS, says, “I’m proud of the growth we’ve experienced welcoming in so many new customers while fostering deeper partnerships with existing customers — many of whom have been with us for more than 20 years.” FBS’s growth is further bolstered by a client attrition rate that’s less than 1 percent — an unprecedented accomplishment for a technology company in any industry. “We’ve set some impressive benchmarks and we’re definitely looking forward to the next twenty years,” Wurzer added. He expressed that FBS’s notable growth is the result of FBS being an employee-owned company focused on serving its customers.

“…less than 1 percent”. That’s beyond impressive. Congrats to all the owners of FBS.

If you missed my conversation with Michael Wurzer on Listing Bits you listen to it on iTunes.

Feb 10 17

Zillow vs. the world

by Greg Robertson

Speaking of Zillow, Mike Delprete, of Adventures in Real Estate Tech compare Zillow recent financials with other listing portals around the world.

Observations on Zillow’s 2016 results and the U.S. market

“With 2016 revenues of $846 million and EBITDA of $37.9 million, Zillow has an EBITDA margin of 4.5% (far less than its reported 17% using Adjusted EBITDA numbers). As you can see below, that margin is well-below international peers.”

Interesting perspective.

Feb 10 17

Zillow loses lawsuit with VHT, Inc.

by Greg Robertson

Feb. 9 Securities and Exchange Commission filing

“In December 2016, the Court granted a motion for partial summary judgment that dismissed VHT’s claims with respect to the Company’s listing site. A federal jury trial began on January 23, 2017, and on February 9, 2017, the jury returned a verdict finding that the Company had infringed VHT’s copyrights in images displayed or saved to the Digs site. The jury awarded VHT $79,875 in actual damages and $8.24 million in statutory damages.”

$8.24M to VHT. Ouch. They don’t have much luck with lawsuits do they?

But they aren’t going down without a fight.

Zillow Group plans to appeal $8M photo copyright verdict

““We have persistently maintained our belief that this suit was without merit,” Zillow Group spokeswoman Amanda Woolley said in a statement to Inman. “While we are pleased that the majority of original claims were dismissed in this case, we regret that the jury did not find for us completely on those that remained, and will vigorously pursue all options to overturn their verdict.”

Feb 7 17

Shelley Fowler & Kevin McQueen take on new challenges

by Greg Robertson

I’ve been a bit remiss to mention that Shelley Fowler has recently taken a position at RE Technology.

Looked who joined RE Technology!

“Shelley has worked in our industry for over 40 years! She’s worked full time within the MLS and REALTOR® Industry since 1977 when she started with PRC/Interealty – one of the nation’s first MLS system providers. There, she held executive positions throughout the western United States…

Shelley will be responsible for furthering RE Technology’s partnerships and relationships with MLSs and associations.”

This morning I also read that Kevin McQueen has joined Swanepoel T3 Group.

Swanepoel T3 Group Adds New MLS Consulting Division

““Kevin is a proven and respected leader in the MLS space and will significantly enhance our efforts to help the hundreds of MLS organizations in need of intelligent research and quality advice,” said Swanepoel T3 Group CEO Stefan Swanepoel. “With MLS consolidation being the second most important trend of 2017, exploring all your options including legal mergers and partnerships as an MLS organization is vitally important,” Swanepoel said.”

Congrats to both RE Technology and Swanepoel T3 Group. Great to see these two talented veterans to continue making a difference in our industry.

Feb 6 17

Listing Bits EP006: Charting new directions in real estate tech

by Greg Robertson

Rebecca Jensen is busy.  She is the President and CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data LLC (MRED), the real estate data distributor for the greater Chicago area. She also serves on the boards of Broker Public Portal (BPP), a national consumer-facing property search experience powered by MLS data, and the Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS), the trade association dedicated to strengthening the MLS industry.

Jensen began her career working the tech support line for what is now (She even supported Lightning for a short time.) She rose through the ranks by creating her own positions in the small company, eventually serving as CEO at the age of 29. Under her leadership, the company developed a new in-house MLS platform, including an integrated public-facing website and mobile apps.

Jensen also served a full term of six years on the board of the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO), acting as Board Chair from 2011 to 2015. During her tenure, the organization went from being a project within the NAR to a standalone nonprofit with support across the industry. On this episode of the podcast, she shares her journey from tech support to CEO. Click and listen to find out what drives Jensen, her take on the role of organizations like RESO, COVE and CMLS, and the direction of the MLS industry.

What’s Discussed:

– How implementing best practices from other fields can enhance your business
Jensen applied principles of Agile product development to identify priorities
– How “creating the opportunity to say no” helped Jensen land her gig at MRED
– The restructuring of RESO during Jensen’s tenure on the board
– Jensen’s aspirations regarding the direction of CMLS
Cultivate think tank atmosphere to generate ideas
Add policy creation arm to implement solutions
– What drives Jensen to achieve
– The promise of big data in real estate tech
Jensen is intrigued by a remine product that correlates data to drive better business decisions
– Jensen’s take on the future of MLS and real estate tech
Integrated software and business entities
Streamlined electronic transactions
– The non-traditional partnership between BPP and Homesnap

You can subscribe to Listing Bits on iTunes.


Remine Website

Connect with Rebecca Jensen:

MRED Website

Feb 1 17

REcolorado to withdraw from data share agreement with IRES.

by Greg Robertson

I told you this far from over…

REcolorado with Withdrawal from CCM Data Share Agreement

“Today REcolorado sent IRES a formal 30-day notice that we will withdraw from the CCM Data Share agreement and no longer share data with IRES, effective March 2, 2017.
The CCM Agreement was put in place in 2003 to allow Colorado’s three Front Range MLSs to share data. Last year, Pikes Peak withdrew from the agreement, indicating the CCM Agreement has outgrown its original intended purpose, to be a resource for the occasional listing or sale falling outside the MLS’s primary jurisdiction.”

You get the feeling that there’s a whiteboard somewhere in Greenwood Village where these moves are already mapped out.