Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt


He stands over 6 and a half feet tall, he once rode his motorcycle (a Harley-Davidson) from Washington state all the way a Houston, Texas; and back! ( A trip covering over 5,000 miles), this year, he quipped, “I flew”. He lives mostly off the grid, doesn’t own a television, is the current VP of Business Development at MOVE, has a Cary Grant type of accent to his voice (meaning I can’t figure out what country the accent comes from, if any), his name is Curt Beardsley and is in my estimation one of the best minds and speakers in real estate today.

I met Curt in Kirkland Washington back in 1996. Back then I was trying to launch our product, “Lightning“, in the market in Western Washington. I met with a few brokers showing the latest innovation with Lightning. Moore Data had just introduced photos to its MLS software Compass. My business partner Dan Woolley had, for lack a better word, hacked the system so that Lightning could also display photos from the Compass MLS system. A huge feat that raised a lot of eyebrows. I still remember people looking under our table at trade shows thinking we had another computer running Viewpoint (Moore Data’s proprietary MLS access software). One of the brokers suggested I meet with a couple guys that were doing some innovative stuff, on this new thing called “the Internet”. The broker made the introduction and the next day I went to meet them.

At that time Curt was the co-founder of a company called True North Technology. When I arrived they had a small office with a single “partner’s desk”. Or maybe it was just two desks facing together. His partner was Kevin Knoepp. I showed them Lightning and our ability to display Compass photos. I could tell both of them were impressed. Dan’s hack had brought me some street cred. (Although later he confessed that at our first meeting he never heard anyone curse as much as I did.) We were a small company in real estate technology (IRIS) and so were they. What I didn’t know at the time was that Curt and Kevin were working on what would be the first web-based MLS system.

We became friends, kept in touch, hung out together at real estate conferences, traded stories and tried to grow our respective companies. True North began getting some traction, and starting launching their new MLS system with MLS providers around the country. Not long after that they were acquired by another upstart in the MLS game, GTE. GTE had a MLS software called System 4, led by Errol Samuelson. Serendipity.

Errol is no slouch when it comes to speaking and bringing big ideas to this space. If you are lucky you’ll get to see both of them speak. Any panel in which Curt or Errol are participating leave the other panelists looking like the amateur hour. Curt is a perfect fit for the cerebral Errol and the real estate industry is better for their partnership together.

Curt brings more an academic vibe to his talks. His vibe is one of a well liked professor. If the TED conference wanted someone to talk about real estate I would send Curt. His mix of data and a passion about the idea of a “Home” is very inspiring. This is striking compared to others in the space. An article I read last week in the New York Times quoted Pete Flint, CEO of Trulia; “There was a time when owning a home was a symbol of you had made it. Now it’s O.K. not to own” and continued “I’m in no rush at all to buy”. Pete doesn’t get it. Curt does.

If you have been in this business a long time you can get jaded. To actually listen to someone who inspires you is a tall order. Curt’s mix of idealism and creative energy is beautiful thing to watch and fills that tall order in more ways than one.

  1. Greg, Nice tribute to Curt. I couldn’t agree with your assessment of who he is and the talent he brings to our industry. Like you, I was one of the lucky ones to work with Curt and Kevin in those early days when I was Member Relations Manager at Northwest MLS and we were the launch partner for the MLS system we called Surveyor. Those were exciting days of innovation led by two incredibly bright guys.

    I guess I have been doubly blessed to be able to work with duos of bright guys who are creating innovate new concepts and tools that are changing the real estate industry. I want to invite you to come have a few beers with Pete Flint and Sami Inkenin, founders of Trulia who I’m working for now. I think once you get to really know them, not just the speaker side if them, you’ll find two guys you might grow to like as much a Curt. And maybe, you’ll find out Pete does get it, and whole lot more.

  2. Greg
    Your comments are “spot on”. What I like most about Curt and Errol is that they challenge me to think beyond the present and then imagine (with me) what could be. They do it without expecting anything in return; their willingness to transfer knowledge logically accrues to them. We all recognize this trait regardless of whether or not we like what they happen to “sell”. Tough for anyone to compete with these guys on that level. I certainly havent met them if they are in this industry.

  3. Hi Greg –

    Thank you for the kind words. I feel like I should buy you dinner… or flowers… 🙂

    You remain one of the most talented and aggressive promoters of ideas, products and people that I know.

    Cheers — Curt

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