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Oct 14 14

1000watt website – don’t call it a refresh

by Greg Robertson

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 1.48.04 PM 1000watt just updated their website today. Which means every other website in the industry now looks like shit. Thanks guys. ; )

But seriously. I love, love, love the new design and company logo. It’s so hard to get this right. You want to have a proper layout, makes things easy to navigate, and that’s just for starters. But the great sites set a tone, a vibe for the people and work they do. And 1000watt nails it. You can read about their new design and the thought process behind it at their blog.

Looking to make your brokerage or MLS cool? Looking to grow your market share? Looking to ways to increase communication and engagement with your members/agents? Looking for a smart team to bounce ideas off of and get great feedback? Call them.

Congrats to Marc, Brian, Joel and the rest of the 1000watt crew. Amazing job!

Oct 9 14

Rumor Alert: Brian de Schepper set to join Zillow

by Greg Robertson

im backWell, that didn’t take long.

Word on the street is former Tarasoft and Corelogic industry vet Brian de Schepper is set to join Zillow’s Industry Relations team. Brian had just left Corelogic back in June. No word on start date.

Oct 6 14

CMLS 2014 afterglow and hangover

by Greg Robertson

It was the biggest CMLS conference by attendance and sponsorship. I remember when it was a small group (Northwest Council of MLS), say less than 90, for the whole conference. Compare that to today, where FBS took out over 90 of their customers to dinner on Thursday night. Things have changed. I may be biased but I also have to say it was the best location as well. The weather was perfect. The hotel was fantastic. The food was amazing. You have to give it up to Art Carter, Patty Connor and the rest of the CRMLS staff for pulling off such and incredible event.

Before the event I heard a few people complaining about the agenda. They were wondering why all the “non-industry” speakers. Art Carter made it clear from the beginning, he wanted to craft an event, “I would like to see”. As it turns out the outside speakers were a huge hit. So much so, I bet future conferences you’ll see more of them than less.

Then there were the parties. My company held an “Open House” at our W&R Studios headquarters down on Main Street on Tuesday night. It was a huge hit, even if it required you to go big on the first night. Trulia and Zillow held separate events, one at Red O restaurant in Newport Beach (very che’che’). And of course there was Mini-Kiss event at Hurricanes on Wednesday night (I heard the band was spotted later and a local I-Hop around 1:30am, can you imagine the stares?)

Again, I may be biased, and I think I say this every year, but CMLS 2014 was best CMLS conference ever.

And then Craig Cheatham took the stage.

It was about 4:15PM on Friday afternoon and Art had a big smile on his face. He even commented, “If you are wondering why I have a big smile on my face its because I see so many of out there.” Having Craig Cheatham, the CEO of The Realty Alliance, as the last presenter was no coicendence. It was a master stroke from Art and did exactly what he hoped, keep people in their seats for the entire conference.

It’s hard to blame Mr. Cheatham for what happen next. And I have to give him credit for showing up, the expectations were pretty high. But he seems to be just a messenger, and a poor one at that, to the whims of The Realty Alliance masters he serves. Kind of like a Roger Goddell, with much less pay and prestige.

The Realty Alliance had gotten the MLS industry’s attention with Mr. Cheatham’s declaration last year, of “You’ve got 10 days”. One year later they had nothing to show or really talk about. Mr. Cheatham’s responses were, at best, oblique. I think John Mosey, CEO of Northstar MLS, put it best in a follow up question, Mr. Cheatham’s statements were “clear as mud”.

The subsequent interview was, at best, awkward, at worst insulting and a waste of everyone’s time. It’s a shame because the audience was full of MLS professionals who truly wanted to help make things better. It reminds me of the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

But lets move on, and not waste anymore time on these Keystone Cops.

My thanks again to everyone at CRMLS, the CMLS board of directors (you too Sarah), for putting together a truly spectacular event. And see you next year in Kansas City!

Oct 1 14

WyldFyre…adieu

by Greg Robertson

The big news yesterday was the acquisition of MOVE, Inc. by News Corp. But there was a piece of news that many of you may not know about. As of yesterday, Homes.com will stop supporting WyldFyre.

WyldFyre, a distributed database system, one of the first true alternative front ends to an MLS system. And this was pre-internet. We’re talking TVI-950/VT-100n type of stuff.

WyldFyre was part of eNeighborhoods, who bought it from MOVE, Inc. back in 2004. I was in charge of sales at eNeighborhoods when this happen. Along with the product we got Michael Hayes, Bob Morse and Joe Happe to join our enterprise sales team led by Andy Woolley. We all had some great times together.

But WyldFyre origins go back all the way to 1992. Southland Regional MLS with Jim Link at the helm took a chance on their product. Southland’s backend system was called Computerized Real-estate Information System aka CRIS. The first version of WyldFyre was called CRISNet.

At the peak, there were well over 100,000 unique users of Wyldfyre in North America and Australia.

Dan Musso and Mike Myers sold their company to HomeStore in 2000.

I reached out to Mike Myers about this thoughts on the final sunset of WyldFyre. He simply stated.

“Had I known it was going to last this long…we would never have sold the company.”

Food for thought to other vendors out there.

22 years is a long time in technology. 22 years of helping agents do the business of real estate. And I’m sure there a few real estate agents who are still pretty pissed they are shutting it down.

So join me in pouring one out for WyldFyre. Dan and Mike, you should be very proud.

Sep 30 14

Murdoch buys MOVE, Inc.

by Greg Robertson

Spencer Dog2

Holy Shit!

I hinted about this rumor last week via a tweet, but didn’t know the suitor at the time.

Via Press Release: News Corp To Acquire Move, Inc.

“Under the acquisition agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of Move, News Corp will acquire all the outstanding shares of Move for $21 per share, or approximately $950 million (net of Move’s existing cash balance), via an all-cash tender offer. This represents a premium of 37% over Move’s closing stock price on September 29, 2014. REA’s share will be acquired for approximately US$200 million. News Corp intends to commence a tender offer for all of the shares of common stock of Move within 10 business days, followed by a merger to acquire any untendered shares.”

Not a bad price, considering.

“Some of the expected key benefits of the transaction include:

-Broadened reach for Move through News Corp’s robust platform including WSJ Digital Network (approximately 500 million average monthly page views[6]) and News America Marketing (nearly 74 million households)
-Increased sales and marketing support to drive higher brand awareness and traffic
-Cross-platform promotion and audience monetization expertise
-Leverage of News Corp’s and REA’s real estate and digital expertise to drive improved product innovation, consumer engagement and audience growth
-Boost traffic and digital dwell times with high quality News Corp content”

Smart.

If Spencer Rascoff is Frank Underwood then Rupert Murdoch is the Prince Of Fucking Darkness. So things are so desperate it looks like the National Association of REALTORS literally just did a deal with the devil.

Let the games begin!

Sep 19 14

Free Errol

by Greg Robertson

Free Errol T Shirt

http://teespring.com/freeerrol
Brilliant!

Sep 19 14

CMLS 2014 Prelude

by Greg Robertson

2014_CMLS_Logo_270px1Art Carter doesn’t think the problems we face in real estate are that different from what other industries are facing or have been facing. That’s the central premise of CMLS 2014, the premier MLS industry event being held in Huntington Beach, California next week.

Perspective

To prove his point Art (current President of CMLS) has gathered speakers from all over, including Zappos, Yelp, USC, and salesforce.com (just to name a few). This is a big change for a CMLS conference and I think will be a big hit with attendees. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing on the agenda for industry specific topics, but I think the central theme here is still geared toward outside perspectives.

We’re back.

But lets face it, CMLS is about people. It’s about community. It’s about lobby bars and great conversation. The real estate market is back, some of us made it through the valley, some of us didn’t. It’s been a tough time and I hope that we’ve learned a lot through those tough years. From what I hear CMLS 2014 will be the largest attended CMLS conference in history. Maybe its the location, the market, whatever, but we are back baby, stronger than ever.

Inclusion

To me this CMLS conference represents the first time the industry has turned corner on Zillow and Trulia. Its become boring to me to focus so much energy on whether or not these companies are good or bad for the industry. They are just another vendor, and they will be measured by their actions, not conspiracy theories. I hope we have finally gotten over it.

The Realty Alliance

Last year’s conference ended with Craig Cheatham, president and CEO, of The Realty Alliance proclaiming “you have 10 days!”, which expressed the large broker community feelings of unhappiness with the MLS industry. And lets face it, no matter how much back pedaling was done later, it was a threat. This caused a lot of MLS execs to retreat to hallways after the session to call on TRA members (many who served on their boards), to ask the question, “Are we cool?”

So, CMLS 2014 ends with the session aptly titled, “The Realty Alliance – One Year Later”. So it seems the tables are turned, so let me make the statement: “Realty Alliance, you’ve got 8 days.” Was it all just bluster? Are you upstream without a paddle? I can’t wait to see what ought to be a spectacular tap dance.

So CMLS 2014 seems to have it all. The sun, the sand, the surf, good friends and Mr. Bojangles.

I can’t wait!

Sep 18 14

Ben Graboske leaves the Matrix and joins Black Knight as CTO

by Greg Robertson

IMG_7896

Ben Graboske has left CoreLogic and now at Black Knight as their CTO. Ben had previously been CTO of MOVE, Inc. , and First American RES. Besides having great taste is software Ben is well liked in the industry. So I’ll spare him all the Monty Python jokes.

Sep 18 14

Three-peat

by Greg Robertson

INC 5000

Recently we (W&R Studios) made Inc. Magazine’s list of the fastest growing private companies in the U.S. Dan and I first made the list with our software company IRIS, LLC. We, along with our partners Edward Ureno and Maggie Etheridge, were listed #193. The year was 2000 and we had just sold our company to HomeSeekers.com (but that’s another story). It was also special because Inc. Magazine featured us in the actual Inc. 500 issue. They wrote an article about our story, and sent out a photographer to take pictures of us. it was very cool. They apparently were fascinated that we were all equal partners and didn’t have a CEO.

After we left HomeSeekers.com, Dan and I joined Stu Siegel, Dave and Jerry Meyer, at eNeighborhoods. eNeighborhoods had a great team they were re-building after selling, and then later getting back, the company they had sold to HomeStore (but that’s another story). We also brought a lot of our crew over from IRIS. At the time they provided neighborhood reports for agents to hand to their customers. We had the simple idea of adding MLS data and expanding the reports to include CMAs and such. We figured in doing so we could raise the price as well. Stu was the first to really understand the power of subscription based software sales. eNeighborhoods was doing this pre-internet. Instead of updates via the net they would mail CDs with new data each month. Long story short, we executed and sales just took off. eNeighborhoods made the list at #84. Along the way Dan and I learned a lot from Stu, Dave and Jerry.

eNeighborhoods was sold to Dominion Enterprises, who also had bought, Advanced Access, and Homes.com in 2007. Great timing it turned out (but that’s another story). Dan and I started another company, W&R Studios, our first product was called Dwellicious. Dan wanted to scratch his own itch. He thought that social bookmarking and real estate was a perfect match. We got a lot of publicity on the major sites like Mashable and TechCrunch and were on our way. But the agents didn’t understand what social book marketing was and a clear revenue model wasn’t apparent. We later sold Dwellicious to a company in Chicago called, VHT, Inc. I thought some of the features from Dwellicious would be a great fit for an online CMA. Dan agreed and we began working on what we would later call Cloud CMA. I started blogging about our experience building Cloud CMA and in late 2009 Lauren Hansen from IRES, LLC, an MLS provider in Boulder Colorado, said she was interested in a site license of Cloud CMA (and we still hadn’t launched it yet). I never forget when Lauren asked if it was okay to pre-pay for the first year of the site license. As a young self-funded start up is was music to my ears.

In February of 2010 we launched Cloud CMA. Now we have over 110,000 active customers who have created over 2 million reports.

Earlier this month Inc. Magazine notified us that we were #644 on their Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies in the United States. Although we didn’t break the 500 mark (damn!) we are still very honored.

Dan Woolley and I first started to work together in 1992. We are both very lucky to love what we do. From our first real estate software product, Lightning (which were sold on 5 1/4 floppy diskettes) to our latest, Cloud Streams. And we know that none of our success could ever happen without the support and friendship of hundreds of people, many of which reads this blog.


Thanks for making this happen.

Sep 18 14

Reesio

by Greg Robertson

reesio-logo-5648354179ec9f4cce32c4ea8b1795eaMy thanks for Reesio for sponsoring this month of Vendor Alley. I’ve written about Reesio’s CEO, Mark Thomas, in the past. These guys are seriously tenacious. Reesio aims to be “one stop shop” as a “CRM plus Transaction for the modern real estate professional”.

A recent post on Inman News put it this way.

“Reesio’s new CRM allows agents and brokers to upload their complete contact address book; create leads manually; forward emailed leads from other systems such as Zillow to Reesio to automatically create a lead; set up the processes, milestones, tasks, and rules that they want to repeat for each lead; and see lead details such as status and tasks to be completed. Brokers can assign tasks to different agents and monitor their performance in terms of conversion and time to close.”

I’m impressed with the software, they are solving a real problem. I’m usually not a big fan of “all-in-one” solutions but merging CRM and transaction management seems to be a no-brainer. And Reesio has done fantastic job of making all this easy enough for most agents.

Reesio is a sponsor of CMLS 2014 and will be exhibiting in Disruptor Alley, so go by and check it out and say hello to their team.