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Oct 28 16

Facebook ads may violate Fair Housing

by Greg Robertson

Facebook Lets Advertisers Exclude Users by Race

“Imagine if, during the Jim Crow era, a newspaper offered advertisers the option of placing ads only in copies that went to white readers.

That’s basically what Facebook is doing nowadays.

The ubiquitous social network not only allows advertisers to target users by their interests or background, it also gives advertisers the ability to exclude specific groups it calls “Ethnic Affinities.” Ads that exclude people based on race, gender and other sensitive factors are prohibited by federal law in housing and employment.”

Not great timing for Zillow, which announced a partnership with Facebook earlier this week. If true Facebook’s (and Zillow’s, for that matter) response to this should be swift.

UPDATE 11-11-2016

According the USA today it looks like Facebook is “no longer allow advertisers to exclude specific racial and ethnic groups when placing ads related to housing, credit or employment.”

via Daring Fireball

Oct 27 16

Boston Logic gets big investor

by Greg Robertson

I’ve been traveling so I’m catching up on some stories I thought deserved attention. Here’s one of them…

Boston Logic Accelerates Growth with a Significant Investment from Providence Equity

“Boston Logic (, a software-as-a-service (Saas) technology platform that powers enterprise and boutique leading real estate brokerages nationwide, today announced it has received a significant growth investment from Providence Strategic Growth (PSG), the growth equity affiliate of Providence Equity Partners, a leading global private equity firm with $47 billion in assets under management. Boston Logic will use the investment to accelerate its ability to provide its real estate customers with technologies that help their businesses succeed.”

Providence is no joke. They own Hulu, Ironman, Top Golf, and CDW. This is a big player entering our space.

I had a chance to talk to Boston Logic’s CEO David Friedman yesterday. While he wouldn’t give me the exact amount Providence Strategic Growth (PSFG) invested, he did make a couple comments.

“There are literally 100s of software companies focussed on the real estate vertical. Most of them are small, with less than $5MM in annual revenue. We see an opportunity to be a dominant enterprise in a fragmented market. This vertical is enormous. We see opportunities every day. We vet lots of them and focus on a few. With PSG’s help, we’ll be able to seize many more of these and grow even faster”

As I see it Berkshire Hathaway, Vista Equity, Newscorp, and now Providence have all noticed this space and put their money on the table. Gotta wonder what other deals may be announced. NAR Annual always has some surprises.

Oct 27 16

When Zillow bought Trulia

by Greg Robertson

Loved this podcast, Acquired, where the hosts (Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal) talk to Kathleen Philips, of Zillow Group about the Trulia acquisition. Well worth the listen!

Tip of the hat to Drew Meyers for first pointing this out.

Oct 20 16

Another day at the office

by Greg Robertson

Huntington Beach is having a an airshow this weekend. So we have a few Thunderbirds practicing outside our window today.


Oct 19 16

Ad spot available on Vendor Alley

by Greg Robertson

I’ve got an Ad spot becoming available next month (right below the Cloud MLX spot on the right). If you are interested in advertising your product/event/cause to some of real estate’s best looking, and intelligent readers, please get in touch! This is last minute so I can give you a good deal.

Oct 19 16

Listingbook and RLS2000 now part of new firm, Elm Street Technology

by Greg Robertson

Elm Street Technology Poised for Growth, Launches Elevate for Real Estate

“Two best-in-class acquisitions, including one of the most established real estate marketing brands used by millions of consumers — Listingbook, has catapulted Elm Street Technology into the real estate industry spotlight. Headed by a team of well-known real estate industry entrepreneurs, Prem Luthra and Randall Kaplan, Elm Street Technology today launches Elevatetm, a new Digital Marketing System that uses advanced automation to move Elm Street Technology towards delivering “everything real estate agents and brokers need for new leads and client-for-life retention, all in one place.”

Lots to chew on here. I’ve always thought Listingbook had a lot of promise but was hampered by a flawed (and ever changing) business model and poor design. That being said, they have a large MLS footprint and I know some agents have sworn by it. I’ve never heard of “RL2000“. Reading the press release I’m not sure if both brands/products are going away and now becoming “Elevate”, or what. If that’s the case then it sounds like MLS permissioning nightmare.

“According to Luthra, Elm Street Technology is in the process of rolling up other successful technology and marketing services companies. “We will be able to deliver everything a broker or agent needs from lead generation, to customer for life retention solutions,” he says.

I wonder who’s next?

This “roll up” strategy is interesting, others have tried with mixed success. I think it all comes down to the fit of the products and people. Ideally playing to each others strengths while complementing any shortfalls.

I also respect Prem for getting in to the mix again. Pulling something like this off isn’t easy and will be full of challenges. Having people in this industry that aren’t afraid of hard work and have a strong entrepreneurial spirit is what makes this industry so great. Best of luck to Prem, Randall and Todd.

Oct 18 16

Zillow’s new Consumer Housing Trends Report is pure gold

by Greg Robertson

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-8-39-04-amIf you’re like me I can’t wait to get NAR’s Survey of Buyer and Sellers and their annual Membership Profile. Swanepoel Trends Report is also a winner. All of these are huge for anyone creating products that will be used by buyers and sellers of real estate and any vendor selling to real estate agents.

But it looks like Zillow Group’s gone a couple order of magnitudes better.

Zillow Group just dropped it’s new Consumer Housing Trends Report. If you attended Inman Connect SF you got a sneak peak of some of the insights of the report by Amy Bohutinsky, COO of Zillow Group. I’ve just skimmed it but I can already tell its going to be gold for real estate vendors.

I can only imagine what this cost (in time, money and energy) to put this together. Once I get through it I’ll post what I think are some important points as it relates to designing better real estate software.

In the meantime, thanks Zillow!

Oct 3 16

BPP – Bringing a knife to a gunfight. What Inman News didn’t report.

by Greg Robertson

sumoAnother thing that was not reported in the Inman News article is Mr Perriello’s comments on the Broker Public Portal (BPP). Again Mr. Perriello’s comments were very concise. His main concerns (and I’m paraphrasing) was that the amount of money the current portals spend (Zillow Group,, etc.) is so large that the BPP could never hope to compete with them and that valuable time and money would be wasted on such a folly.

Oct 3 16

Are brokers tilting at windmills with Upstream?

by Greg Robertson

don-quixoteFrom Inman News:

“At a private conference this week in Houston, Realogy Franchise Group CEO Alex Perriello questioned Upstream’s value proposition and whether the bifurcation of listing distribution could stifle innovation and add unnecessary costs because not all brokers and MLSs will participate.”

I listened to Mr. Perriello’s comments and concerns and I have to say they were very well thought out. I’m hoping (but doubt) the audio or transcript would be made available. I’ve also heard, from some, that Upstream doesn’t need the support of Franchisors to succeed. Which is true. But when many industry leaders start doubting whether Upstream could be properly executed, you have to take time to pause and reflect. This could get very embarrassing for the industry.

Sep 26 16

Cloud MLX Webinar

by Greg Robertson

Cloud_MLX_vertical_1_blueIt was great seeing everyone in Las Vegas last week. And to be honest I’m still not fully recovered. : )

Anywho, Katie and I had a lot of questions about Cloud MLX and since there wasn’t really a good wifi connection in the Heart Bar we only did a few demos. As you may know Cloud MLX was named “2016 Most Innovative Technology” by Inman News. But as luck would have it we had a Cloud MLX webinar scheduled for CRMLS members this Wednesday at 9AM PT. So if you are interested in seeing what all the hype is about I wanted to give you the info to take a look.

Just click on the link below and it will get you signed up.

Register for Cloud MLX Webinar – CRMLS

Or if you’d rather get a private demo, just contact Katie and she’ll set up a time.