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Remine, escaping the golden handcuffs and the upcoming Hunger Games

by Greg Robertson on February 15th, 2019

Remine raises $30M Series A, tees up to launch ‘MLS 2.0’

Remine, a real estate data and analytics company known for its ability to predict which homes are “likely to sell,” has raised $30 million for ambitions that go way beyond lead prospecting.
The firm plans to launch a brand-new multiple listing service system in the third quarter of this year to compete with entrenched vendors such as CoreLogic, Black Knight and FBS as well as a suite of broker tools.

There’s a lot to unpack here. You should go read the entire Inman article. You have to admire the confidence these guys have.  Mark Schacknies, Remine’s co-founder and CFO really does a great job outlining Remine’s mission and how it will be different from traditional MLS vendors. I’ve met and hung out with other Remine co-founders, Leo and Jonathan, and I wish I had 1/10 of the confidence these guys had when I was starting out.

With this latest round of funding it brings Remine’s total funding to $48.8 million dollars. Remine doesn’t say who the previous investors might be, but that’s a lot of money.

From the article and past conversations I’ve had it sounds like the business model is this: become the primary MLS Vendor by touting a “superior” MLS System and service than existing MLS solutions and at a very low price. The catch is that they get marketing rights to the MLS provider’s agent roster to allow them to upsell other Remine’s products and services.

This seems to be a pivot from their previous business model which didn’t have them being the primary MLS Vendor. I gotta wonder why? How does it help Remine by becoming the primary MLS system? Or is being the primary system even their goal? This quote makes them sound very AMPish.

Remine’s upcoming “MLS 2.0” platform will offer both a front end (the part that agents see and enter listings into) and a back end (database) like current vendors do, but unlike them, will also allow any front end MLSs choose to connect to its back end, including a tool like broker data management platform Upstream.
On top of that, Remine’s platform will be “open” in the sense that it will allow integration with any number of third-party vendors and allow MLSs to share specific back-end functionality — such as saved searches — with third-party vendors.

Aside from Michael Wurzer’s point about that some of that functionally has already been available through FBS’ Spark platform, this pivot sounds like something else entirely. My guess is that Remine as a third party software solution isn’t getting as many eyeballs on their product as they want and think that being the primary MLS system will give them more eyeballs and therefore a lot more chances to upsell. But, I’m not sure they realize the amount of work being a primary MLS system is, and if it’s worth those extra eyeballs.

Here’s the rub.

In the past vendors were controlled by the MLS Providers with what I call the “golden handcuffs”, we could license the MLS data, and could sell our products in the market. But if we were to get too aggressive in our marketing and sales tactics, we would be slapped on the wrist, or worse, shut down. Full disclosure, this has happen at my company.

It seems that MLS Providers are now giving up that role. I think Homesnap was really the first to break the chains, touting their “we are your partners” BPP bullshit, and thus convincing MLS providers to give them more access to the MLS membership for upsells. Now other venture funded companies like Remine who need to get big fast also need to be super aggressive to hit their numbers.

The best thing about this announcement is Remine is going to force everyone to get better, and that’s a good thing. So far we haven’t seen their MLS 2.0 product or listing input module. It could be great, it could be a colossal dud. The market will decide. One thing I know for sure, the existing MLS Vendors are not going away without a fight, and it’s been a long time since a new MLS System has hit the market. And MLS conversions are tough. So they have their work cut out for them.

I can be excited about this new world where not just one monolithic vendor controls everything and decides who it integrates with and who it doesn’t. This would lead me to believe that the best products will win; cream will rise to the top. But I also believe MLS Providers may need to have some rules on membership marketing, whether you are the primary MLS system or not. The alternative? Let the Hunger Games begin.


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16 Comments
  1. Totally agree with you Greg on all points made here. I LOVE to see more competition in the MLS System space – just like how Upstream inspired the creation of TRESTLE and the Bridge Acquisition, this work is going to encourage all MLS Vendors to be better. Love it!

  2. David Charron permalink

    Breaking the mold is tough work and not for the faint of heart. New companies that want to crack that code must be smart, responsive, resilient, bring industry knowledge, the willingness to introduce responsible change, and importantly have the financial and tech chops to make it all work.

    Traditional/established firms of course will rail at any new entrant.

    I am reminded of a 19th century German philosopher named Arthur Schopenaur. He said “All truth passes through 3 stages. First it is ridiculed. Second it is violently opposed. Lastly it is accepted as being self-evident.”

    Lots of examples to consider here. TaraSoft, Boris, FBS, HomeSnap, W&R (yes even you Greg), Zillow, Redfin, Compass, CNN, Inman. The list is endless. And everyone of these had to push through all 3 stages. More are on the way, every day. Not all will make it. That’s the way it should be.

    Remine appears to be somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd stage. These guys are not disruptors (unless you are a entrenched tech partner). For the larger industry, these guys look like responsible change agents.

  3. @David Yup. Another quote, from Jim Barksdale; “in business, there are two ways to make money. You can bundle, or you can unbundle.”

  4. Good points David. I am reminded of the times when Discover MLS entered the marketplace. I think they were caught short by not realizing the extremely long sales cycles of selling MLS systems.

    You’re right – it is not for the feint of heart – gotta hold on to a bunch of that 30mm to maintain cash flow for the long haul until the industry embraces a new entry.

  5. Roland Estrada permalink

    I have to imagine that CoreLogic is scrambling to get something new out for Matrix. I know that because last November, I sat down with the lead engineer for Matrix. CoreLogic wanted an agent’s insight regarding workflow. They are working on a UI/UX revamp. Ten years too late. I have said before that Matrix is the BlackBerry of MLS tech providers. They have market share and therefore have been mind-numbingly slow to modernize there system. Maybe CoreLogic will have a new MLS UI/UX in five years. See below.

    It has probably been about 5 or 6 years now since CoreLogic gathered a bunch of us Realtors at a hotel in Fullerton CA to get input on what we wanted to see in a client portal. For years after that meeting, nothing changed. Finally, I think it was last year, they updated their client portal to a more modern look. And they still got things wrong with the update.

    You know, we have been in the modern UI/UX era for about ten years now in my view. And yet with the exception of two MLS vendors, (W+R and BoxMLS) MLS UI/UX is stuck in the mid 2000s. We previewed BoxMLS late last year at our MLS tech focus group, and the agents present really liked it. So there is a lot longing on the part of agents for an MLS front end that is modern, elegant easy to use.

    There does seem to be an onslaught of startups out there that want to have some kind of consumer-facing MLS presence. I have had sit-downs with some of them over the last two years – one just last week.

    I agree with Greg that being a full-blown MLS front end is a huge task. So, we’ll see how this all shakes out.

  6. RealEstate101 permalink

    The biggest story regarding Remine is the MLS executives and board members who are investors and paid advisors pushing their product. It is no accident that Remine has 39 unnamed investors they will not disclose (very rare for a VC backed business). At my MLS it is whispered that two of our board members are investors and they push Remine constantly. This is a material conflict of interest to brokers and agents these executives and board members represent and agents should demand that MLS board members and executives certify they are not investors in Remine (individually or through a corporation) before they make decisions on what MLS software we will be using. Remine could clean this up by certifying to us all that no MLS board members or executives own stock in Remine or are being paid by Remine. Inman should investigate.

  7. I misspoke earlier. I agree with all of your comments about REMINE, but I DO NOT agree with your BPP BS comment at all. The Broker Public Portal broke through because the initiative provided an answer that brokers are desperate for – a way to work together to provide a meaningful alternative to the ever more expensive third party sites. I talked to a REALTOR this week that told me she spends $6000 a month on Zillow advertising!!! With an average price point of $180,000 how many homes does she have to sell JUST to pay her $72,000 annual bill? It’s getting more crazy all the time! The BPP got traction and continues to gain momentum because it is a pain killer not a vitamin like so many other products. BPP without Homesnap was just a vision. BPP WITH Homesnap is a powerful solution that is delivering hundreds of millions of dollars in lead generation value for agents and brokers everywhere. BPP’s meteoric growth with MLSS is not unprecedented though. Listtrac gained a TON of traction quickly too – Why did that one work so well? Because they were helping brokers take credit for all of the listing exposure and lead activity they generate for their listings from IDX, VOW, MLS Prospecting, MLS Consumer-facing sites and Third party sites. When you can generate significant business generation opportunities smart MLSs around the country WILL respond on behalf of their subscribers. I’m so excited to see our industry come together to continue to improve IDX rules, roll out standardized data through RESO AND find a vehicle to collectively leverage the hard work of brokers and their agents to cultivate listings and support buyers in their home search process. I am also really glad that BPP chose Homesnap as their partner instead of try to go it alone. They tapped into existing energy with a really strong product designed at its core to keep the REALTOR at the center of the transaction. Gotta love that.

  8. Estrada Roland permalink

    I had a chance today to get an hour-long demo of Remine MLS 2.0. I was very impressed. They have done a LOT of heavy lifting for a fully.featured scalable backend that services both the MLS orgs and the brokers. Lots of backend flexibility and ability to make MLS requested feature changes.

    It’s a full fledged 21st Century look and feel. In my eyes, it makes CoreLogic look like a horse and buggy setup. CoreLogic should worry based on what I saw CoreLogic demo for me last November an what I saw today.

    To be fair, Remine has 100 engineers. So they definitely have the muscle.

  9. @Marilyn Meh

  10. David Charron permalink

    Hey Marilyn. I for one appreciate your passion. Always have. But Greg’s post is about Remine, it’s funding, what it might mean to established players and most importantly about the new rules of engagement. Greg’s primary message is that this announcement essentially means all boats will rise (or sink) and no single entity will control the speed of innovation. If I am a practitioner, I am stoked there is a differentiating option. If I am a start-up, this announcement thrills me. If I am an entrenched player with share to lose, I will resort to shouting at the rain.

  11. John Mosey permalink

    Would like to hear more about “BPP Bullshit” and why your ass is is so frosted.
    JM, Chairman of the Board, Broker Public Portal

    PS And the horse you rode in on…

  12. Great stuff, Greg. I’m super interested in what Remine is trying to achieve, despite the fact their mission is one wrought with historical despair. What’s interesting to me is the fact that the industry is now finally looking at UI/UX as perhaps a competitive advantage (a weak one at best) which requires technology developers (third party like us or national franchises like KW) to stop treating the *broker* as the end-user, but instead the consumer — this is a shift in business model that can create challenges for companies, like Remine and Homesnap, who consider their target audience the MLS (and hence brokers). And brokers wonder why consumers revert back to Zillow and Redfin when introduced to broker/MLS provided tools…shouldn’t adoption rates be higher among agents for tools that “freely” provided through their membership than 1 in 5 — does this point to minimal value-add to brokers, low consumer engagement, or both?

  13. Additionally —

    As you mentioned in a Listing Bits podcast some time ago, it’s not like brokers unanimously hate their MLS. Approval rates are still high, we’ve found almost every broker in our market that we’ve spoken with have a comfort with the system and onboarding listings — the problem is more so, to me, what RESO is trying to accomplish in normalized data (i.e. backend). MLS’s and the space in general need better tools, less so a unified front-end entry point — if that’s what Remine is attempting to offer, they obviously face a LOT of competition, a none that has made a serious dent in trying to oust the incumbents.

  14. @Austin Guy Good comments. In your second comment I’m a bit confused about the players you are talking about. You might want to check out, http://www.vendoralley.com/2017/12/06/speaking-mls/

    Also, I enjoy your blog.

  15. @Greg – thanks for the kind words and the link — still working my way through all this. Perhaps my comments were misdirected, but thinking about the MLS 2.0’s, Upstreams of the world that are trying to provide a new front-end technology.

  16. @Austin Guy The question I guess you’re asking is whether or not there there will be a need for a “primary” MLS System that provides both the front end/back end. It’s worth thinking about. As David highlights, this will be a brand new world that none of us have competed in before.

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