Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Inman Anticipation…

Like many of you I’m heading up to San Francisco next week for the Data Summit and Real Estate Connect conference, both hosted by Inman News. So here’s a prelude to some of the things I’m looking forward to and thinking about:

I will be attending Inman’s Data Summit. The event will be hosted by Gahlord DeWald and Rob Hahn. I always enjoy getting together with Gahlord, he is a smart guy and I always learn something so it will be interesting to hear he perspective on the data issues plaguing the MLS/Real Estate Industry. Rob Hahn, aka “The Bard of the Long Form Post”, will be hosting too. Rob is always good at making me re-think my current assumptions or at least giving an interesting perspective.

Dan Woolley will be moderating the “Connect Tech” session once again this year and I’m sure he won’t disappoint. Traditionally a geek fest Dan always seems to bring together great minds for interesting conversation about XML and whatnot. The Connect Tech sessions are scheduled for Wednesday, July 27 and start at 8:30AM and end at 12:00PM.

This year Mike Wurzer takes a break from moderating The MLS Innovation Track (Brian Boero will ably take on the task) on Thursday July 28th, starting at 2:00PM. I’ll be on a panel entitled “Managing Your Distribution Channel and Vendor Relationships Profitably and Responsibly”. On the panel with me will be Curt Beardsley of Move, Inc. So please join me as I try not to look stupid sitting next to Curt.

I’m also a big fan of Brad Inman‘s Welcome Address. This year he will be speaking of “The Post-PC World”. But a lot of the hosting duties appear to be taken over by Chris Smith, Inman’s newly hired “Chief Evangelist”. I’ve seen Chris speak at an Agent Reboot Conference and just sat in on a webinar he hosted yesterday. Chris is the real deal, and a very talented speaker who really knows his stuff. The question remains can he go deeper to the the larger issues involving the real estate industry and not just do a presentation on “The Top 10…..”, I think he can, but as an “evangelist” does he even have to?

I’m also look forward to hearing from Joe Bebbia of Airbnb, which for some reason really fascinates me. It will be good to get Ron Conway’s perspective on things and I think David Pogue will be a good draw as well.

But the “Belle of the Ball” might just be Zillow. After a being valued at just about a Billion dollars these guys have to be pumped, and what a perfect conference to strut their stuff. But don’t think the other guys will be sitting still, word on the street is that there will be at least 1 big announcement next week ( I know, I’m a big tease).

Plus doesn’t it seem like there is a lot more parties this year? Almost every night there are one or two parties to go to. I sure hope my liver is ready.

Parties aside to me the next big issue, which we are already having to face, is the advent of these patent lawsuits. As an independent software developer I can tell you that its a big issue that I’m afraid is only going to get worse. It’s not just a real estate issue, this post by Craig Hockenberry spells it out best.

I arrive Sunday evening. I hope to catch up with everyone. And remember Vendor Alley’s first rule of conferences….Never, And I Mean Never, Go Big On The First Night!

See you there!!

Clareity 2011 MLS Executive Workshop Recap

Gregg Larson and crew have certainly come up with a winning formula for Clareity’s annual MLS Executive Workshop.  Last week was Clareity’s 10th anniversary for holding the event and it was sold out almost as quickly as the announcement was made.  I’m sure they have 10 more years ahead, here’s why:

1.  Location.  While most of the country is freezing, the event is held in Scottsdale and the weather was absolutely perfect this past week, just beautiful.

2.  Don’t skimp.  They are great hosts.  Premium booze.  No drink tickets, and good food.  ‘Nuff said.

3.  Prizes.  Gregg is very generous with the prizes too.  I don’t think you will ever find an event where so many high tech prizes are given away.

4.  Inclusion.  Vendors and MLS executives are both featured in panels.

5.  Good content.  Matt Cohen keeps the sessions relevanat and topical to today’s issues.

6.  Audience participation.  Seems like you get more Q&A than other meetings I’ve attended.

7.  MLS Satisfaction Survey.  They announce the results at this event.  Pure genius.

Highlights for me include the listing syndication discussions.  Feels like there is a change in the air on this topic.  Also every year it seems like Gregg puts two industry vets on stage who may be on opposite ends of a topic.  This year it was Sami Inkinen from Trulia and Errol Samuelson from MOVE.  It’s great theatre to watch both participants answer questions and be cordial to one another.  Even though you might sense they would rather the other one not exist.

The theme of the event was innovation.  Two of my favorite presentation were the one given by Mike Wurzer, CEO of FBS and another by John Heithaus of MRIS.  Mike has been talking a lot about the concept of an “MLS App Store” and the possibilities are very exciting to a 3rd party vendor like myself.  John Heithaus is relatively new to this crowd but not real estate, his fun quirky presentation was informative, provoking and entertaining.  Tough mix.

But my favorite presentation was by Art Carter.  Art spoke of the need for standards and how everyone in the room was responsible for helping this effort.  Yes I know this is a old topic, but somehow Art made it fresh.  Part of it was the message he was delivering, most of it was the fact that he was something to you don’t see a lot of nowadays; Genuine.

My thanks to Gregg and Matt and the rest of the Clareity crew for a truly awesome event.  See you next year!

Check out the Vendor Alley Flickr Photostream for photos from the event:


Your CMLS checklist

CMLS is just a couple days away so I thought I would put together a quick check list for those of you attending:

1.  Check out http://CouncilofMLS.com.  It’s the official website of CMLS and has been recently updated with new content. Plans are to have the discussions at CMLS conference to be continued at the website afterwards.

2.  iPad.  While I’m still carrying my laptop I’m finding my iPad to be indespensible when attending conferences of this type.  It always on, easy to carry, allows me to check my e-mail, as well as an impromptu demo device.

3.  If your rocking your iPad than having a Verizon MiFi or something similar is a must. Hotel internet connections in meeting rooms are notoriously flakey.  Plus you have the costs of in-room internet access.  Trust me, its worth it.

4.  Get your Twitter on!  Follow the conference at http://Twitter.com/CMLSConference and don’t forget the hashtag #cmls2010

5.  Be ready to engage.  The best sessions are those that our interactive.

Oh, and an extra liver, if you have one!

I arrive tomorrow.  See you there!


Leads not cheese!

Very funny video put out by RE/MAX, executed perfectly.

Inman NYC Warm Up!

*** This post is best read while listening to Jay Z’s track “Empire State of Mind” off his new album “The Blueprint III ***

Oh man I’m getting pumped up for next week! Brad Inman and his team have certainly put together another great conference. I’ve heard attendance is up from last year. So I’m looking forward to seeing everyone. Dan and I have a lot going on at the conference that I wanted to share with you.

First up:

Cloud CMA launch!
Yup, we plan to officially launch our latest web app, Cloud CMA at the show. We will have a SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT about this later this week so STAY TUNED!

We will have a demo pod on Wednesday only in “Start-Up Alley” so if you want to come and see a live demo of Cloud CMA please stop by!

Wednesday, January 13


Dan Woolley will be moderating a Workshop called ConnectTech from 9AM to 11:30AM
Topics include:
Tips and Tricks For Working with the iPhone SDK
How to code IDX Solutions that Don’t Suck
CTO Roundtable: What’s the Next Round of Online Real Estate Innovation?

Thursday, January 14

10:20AM – 10:40AM
I (Greg Robertson) will be on stage for “Start-up Shoot-Out” Part I:The Entrepreneurs”
There will be six us of us pitching our new products and the audience and a panel of judges will decide who take home a prize valued at $25,000!

11:10AM – 11:30AM
Start-Up Shoot-Out Part II: The Investors
High-profile venture investors weigh-in on the start-ups. What do they like? What don’t they like? Will they invest? (Not sure if we get back on stage for this or not yet?)
Investors include: Simon Baker, Vanessa Fox, Brad Inman, and Michael Yang

3PM to 4:PM

I’m doing “CONNECT LAB 2”:

Vendors Only: Selling Technology Solutions in Real Estate
“You’ve got an application. A service. Something you think is killer. But you have no idea how to market and sell it. Learn how to price your product, message it, and get in front of the people who will buy it in this session led by one of the most battle-tested marketing and bus dev executives in the business.”

I’ll be giving a short presentation on what I’m calling “The Twin Peaks of real estate app sales”

I’m kind of bummed a bit because Michael Wurzer is moderating one of the “INNOVATION TRACKS” around the same time:

2PM to 5PM

MIke has a killer line up of topics and panelists.

RPR Reverb: Should MLSs Love it or Fear it?
Breaking Data Taboos for Fun and Profit
For Those Who Think Big: Charter an Alternate Strategy for Your MLS
Not if, But How To: Work Towards Best Practices for MLS Data Sharing

Ought to be a good show. See you there!

Tahoe, Baby! Tahoe!

Lake Tahoe road wpb

Is it just me or is everyone getting psyched about CMLS this year? Maybe it’s because, as usual, I know something you don’t know ; )

Merri Jo Cowen committed to host the event back when she was the CEO of Northern Nevada MLS. As many of you know Merri Jo has since left NNRMLS and is now the CEO of MyFloridaMLS.

Enter freshly the freshly minted new CEO of NNRMLS, Shelley Specchio.

So now we get two conference hosts for the price of one! Both Shelley and Merri Jo have been working very hard to make this event a memorable success. Just check out the Agenda page and see why!

Brad Inman is doing the keynote. I hear rumors of interactive screens with audience participation, game shows (with yours truly as the host!), and golf, at Edgewood Tahoe, and did someone say casinos!

When are we gonna have time to talk MLS???

So if you haven’t already registered get your groove on! The fun begins next week.

CMLS 2009

See you there!

New York City!!! Just like I pictured it!

Dan and I are heading to NYC first flight out of Ft. Lauderdale. Looking forward to seeing everyone!

And can you believe it, Dan Woolley has never been to New York City?!!

Seems very odd to me. I told him that we should do something special in honor of this occasion, so I offered to buy him a blo* jo* from a tranny. He declined.


Anyway, switching gears…I’ve still got some Vendor Alley schwag to give away. So I’m going to have another contest.

Just visit the Backstage Pass area of VendorAlley.com (upper right hand corner of the site, genius). The password has been changed. It’s now: bigapple. From there you will receive contest rules on receiving your free Vendor Alley Schwag.

Wednesday only Dan and I have a “Demo Pod” (that what you get when you can’t afford a full booth) going on at the Inman Exhibit Hall (Westside rooms 1&2) from 12PM to 6PM. So stop by and come make fun of us.


I’ll be participating on a panel at the General Session, Thursday at 10:30AM. The panel will be entitled “New Kids (and Ideas) on the Block: Innovators from Around the World“. I’ll be talking about our new web apps being launched Dwellicious and Dwellicious Pro……and I will be making a very special surprise announcement!!


Of course I will have all the latest information about any and all after-parties going on at the show. So get your Twitter on and follow me @gregrobertson as we descend upon Manhattan and see what trouble we can find!


And take a cue from El Jobso, no matter what anybody says, Real Estate ain’t dead yet, so lets keep on keeping on. See you there!!!


nodrinks.jpgGot here Tuesday night. Downtown Seattle, nice hotel…old school. The first thing I want to report is that I was “cut-off” at the lobby bar. First time this has ever happen to me. The waitress comes over puts down my drink and tells me that per their policy this will have to be my last drink. I asked her why, she told me that it was my Xth (actual number withheld to protect the author) Tanqueray and tonic.

Dumbfounded and still feeling parched, we left for a friendlier atmosphere.

CMLS countdown…9 days..

cmls1.jpgWe just wanted to send another plug out there for this upcomming conference, CMLS. It’s being hosted in Seattle this year by NWMLS, October 10-12. Check out this website for details. Always a great time where vendors and treated like the business partners instead of being banned like lepers.

Inman Connect Recap….finally


First off, kudos to Brad for putting together another great show. Yeah, I know Connect can be full of fringe companies and topics but you gotta love the amount of respect Brad gives these entrepreneurs. Coming from a guy who started his business in a garage I can appreciate it.

You also gotta love the city of San Francisco. The restaurants, the bars, the bums, the people, the everything. I grew up in the Mission District on 21st Street and it always feels like coming home when I drive in to the city.

The Palace Hotel, decent. The ballroom has a great vibe but the service wasn’t the greatest. The lobby bar, with its picture of the “The Pied Piper”, has a great vibe too, it was a shame someone reserved half the bar seats one night- the place is small enough already! Rooms were small but nice. Wish they had more private meeting space just too sit down. It was hard to sit down with someone without being in the open and everyone saying hi or waving.

But all the heavies were there. I caught Errol Samuelson, President of Realtor.com, and Move’s skunk works developer Curt Beardsley and the House of Shields one night. (Gotta love House of Shields, a vendor’s dream, a bar within stumbling distance when the lobby bar closes) Alan Dalton was nowhere to be seen and assumed to be in his basement with his soldering gun building the new super secret weapon for MOVE.

The Clareity boys were in full force. Someone told me that they all got black matching tailored suits from a clothing story next door to The Palace- So my nickname for Gregg (Mr. Brown), Troy (Mr. White) and Kevin (Mr. Pink) is going to be The New Reservoir Dogs.

I did see Marty Frame and John Hensley from FRNRES, along with Larry “fingers” Ross, but oddly nobody from FNRES’ MLS group. Word is that management scheduled a sales training session the same days as the conference. Must be contagious for MLS vendors because Wurzer from FBS was busy “…working on stuff our clients need”. Way to go Mike!

Jim Secord from MostHome showed up, hope he didn’t use his personal credit card to get there. And of course all the heavies from Dominion Enterprises, Andy Woolley (eN), Bob Morse (eN), Michael Hayes (eN), Jamie Clymer (Homes.com) and Dave Meyer (eN). What a bar bill!

Speaking of bar bills, for those of you who made it to the eNeighborhoods Inman After Party at Black Magic Voodoo Lounge you know what I mean when I say “OFFFF DA HOOOK!” Michael was slinging drinks like Tom Cruise in Cocktails, only without the spinning bottles and weird grin. Later even Andy “Elephant Hunter” Woolley got it to the act, mixing one of the best Tanqueray and Tonics in the city. Way to grab the right bottle Andy!

The bar was even graced by Inman’s very own Alice Myerhoff. Alice is the Sales Director for Inman News and sells advertising and conference sponsorships. Even more lovely ladies showed up as the RE/MAX International’s very own Fatima and Amy came and showed us all how RE/MAX rolls.

Plus I gotta give a big shout out to Brad Tertell from MLSNI, he loaded the jukebox with serious coin and picked out an awesome mix of tunes for the evening- Brad you might have a career as DJ if this MLSNI thing doesn’t work out!

Most of the other stories I can’t mention or don’t remember.

Even with all this we did manage to get some work done, that’s the great thing about Inman Connect, just mix and stir.

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