Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Norfolk

In this three part series I’ll be focusing on Dominion Enterprises (more specifically the new Homes Media Solutions division). In Part II and III of this series I will give my thoughts and observations about its future, challenges and opportunities. This post first appeared on the Vendor Alley Private Newsletter feed on May 15th, 2011

Part I

In this first post I’ll focus upon a little background. Dominion Enterprises was established back in 2006 when Landmark Communications split with COX Communications. Back then Landmark Communications and COX were partners in Trader Publishing (which owns among other things Auto Trader Magazine). COX got Auto Trader, Dominion got a bunch of magazines; Harmon Homes, Cycle Trader, For Rent Magazine and Homes.com (which they acquired after Homes.com filed for bankruptcy). Then Dominion went on a buying spree buying such companies as Katabat, Pullan Communications, Advanced Access, Number1Expert (Best Image Marketing), and eNeighborhoods (and I’m sure I’m missing a few).

I was eNeighborhoods’ EVP when we were acquired. What struck me and my counterparts as weird was it was Dominion’s philosophy that each “sister company” would compete against each other. Apparently this was a strategy that served Dominion well with print. Separate IDX process, separate data centers, separate sales teams, separate marketing efforts… fucking insane. The only thing that was shared, and I believe is still the practice today, is that everyone filled out a paper time card.

Long story short the real estate magazines revenue started to tank, faster than anyone ever thought, as real estate agents/brokers moved their advertising dollars online. Plus some of their smaller acquisitions began to falter as the larger acquisitions took more of “Norfolks” (Norfolk,VA is the city where Dominion Enterprises in headquartered) time and attention. And the party was almost over for real estate.

In early 2008 Landmark Communications, Dominion Enterprises parent company, decided to sell. Landmark also owned The Weather Channel. We all know what happen later that year–the bubble burst and the economy went in to a tail spin. Oddly enough The Weather Channel was sold (by Lehman Brothers no less) but unable to sell, Dominion Enterprises took itself off the market.

Which left the future uncertain for Dominion Enterprises and it’s businesses. It’s no wonder in 2009 Glassdoor.com listed Dominion Enterprises at one of the “Worst Companies to work for”.

I had already left eNeighborhoods in May of 2008 along with Stu Siegel, Dave Meyer and my current business partner Dan Woolley. In my next post I’ll focus on Homes.com and eNeighborhoods, two key players in their new Homes Media Solutions division.

You can read Part II in this series now by subscribing to the Vendor Alley Private Newsletter. Otherwise Part II will be posted here at a later date.

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