45 Things I Learned at RE Connect

(some names left anonymous to protect the innocent)

  1. There’s a hell of a lot of VC money floating around this industry. I was surprised at how many people there were with lots of VC funding. Joel seemed to notice the same thing: “a whole new crop of real estate search sites that are going to be hitting the market”
  2. Reporter from the REALTOR Magazine was in the audience of our presentation. (thanks to Ines for pointing out the story: NAR is opening their eyes to blogging.)
  3. Zillow dropped their beta tag.
  4. Zillow’s big press release (picked up by many others) was a case of “make-news”. I’d be worried for their business if they weren’t making the improvements they announced (adding more listings, improving the quality of Zestimates, dropping beta, etc.). Joel doesn’t write much about of the improvements, while Greg quotes it extensively and seems to gush about their RETS announcement, which even the Zillow team pulls back from in the comments.
  5. Trulia was profitable for at least one month last year expects to be profitable at some point this year.
  6. According to comScore, Trulia had more traffic than Zillow in December! (Congrats Mike on the awesome prediction)
  7. comScrore and Hitwise are measuring traffic on two different internets. (Hitwise shows Trulia with 1.45% of category traffic and Zillow with 2.28%).
  8. Also interesting from the Hitwise report is that Move.com moved from #2 to #5, while RE/Max moved from #2 to #5. That’s big enough news where I would have expected to see a Press Release. Realtor.com at #1 and Move.com at #2 is huge for Move, Inc., even if it is only for December. (Oddly, I’m getting all the Hitwise numbers for December from an Inman Blog article on my feedreader. The actually article was removed from their site for some reason, so maybe the numbers are butchered!)
  9. Vast.com acquired Adaptive Real Estate Services (ARES). (That answers one question, although it does not give me any confidence that Vast.com has thought out their listing content acquisition strategy)
  10. Lots of neighborhood projects coming out. Here’s my (unsolicited) advice to anyone looking to build a successful social network in this space. If you really want consumer adoption, you’ve got to have a clear answer to this question: “What’s the consumer benefit?” So, so, so many of the “social networks” I saw this week were focused around real estate professionals. ActiveRain was an anomaly. Be able to explain your consumer proposition clearly, or don’t expect success.
  11. With that said, VillageMaker from RealProSystems will likely be a success… in that agents will the product, not in the sense that consumers will use it. This is the ultimate social network with the real estate professional at the center of the transaction in that a real estate agents must invite consumers to this platform. Sounds great, except it won’t work for all but a few agents.
  12. I am now the owner of “all the marbles”.
  13. Saul Kline is still the same great guy even after becoming CEO of Point2. (Frances has photos). His stated approach for moving Point2 forward is sound, although I’ll let him explain that approach when he’s ready.
  14. Lots of start-ups are twisting and turning to think how they an make their products more REALTOR friendly in the hopes of catching some Second Century funding! Mark Lesswing is a popular man at these conferences.
  15. I was surprised how many tech start ups get funding with only the roughest plans to get listings. Teresa gets that this is a mistake!
  16. Trulia launched their Publisher Platform. Robbie loves this! I can’t tell what Joel thinks… and Greg pans the service. I don’t follow Greg’s logic that it weakens overall traffic to Trulia… Mainly because nobody in the online real estate space has enough market penetration to think there are a finite number of users for their services. Trulia needs more listings. If this helps convince more brokers that they need to send their feeds to Trulia, then it is a good move. (Joel has an example of what the branded service looks like on FOREM)
  17. I really liked one startup and can’t wait until they launch in a little bit because I want to see how they market themselves. The product is an (solid) incremental improvement on search, but I don’t think it is enough of an improvement to go viral on its own.
  18. The beer for bloggers event is a great way to start off a conference. (photos on the Zillowblog and Sellsius).
  19. Teresa has some great photos from the week, including this action shot of me. Dito for Jeff.
  20. The WellcomeMat boys are quite the fun crowd. I really want to see them succeed because the technology is top-notch. Next step for them is figuring out a way so that their users don’t have to do their own marketing. If uploaded listing videos were getting hundreds (or even dozens), I think they’d be well on-their-way to being a a must-have product for most agents.
  21. I’m more bullish after RE Connect on Altos Research.
  22. Drew found a way to work at RE Connect. I’m not sure how he pulled it off.
  23. Professor Nouriel Roubini didn’t show up to RE Connect with the idea of making a lot of friends. He was consistently vocal in his belief that the downside to this market is going to be HUGE. He made Noah look like a moderate! (Here’s the video!)
  24. While I didn’t plan to go to many of the sessions, I surprised myself by going to only one session (see previous comment).
  25. I LOVE NYC.
  26. While I enjoy writing the occasional update, I’m simply not a good twitterer. On the other hand, Daniel is the twitter man.
  27. Apparently, there is a $15B dollar opportunity in the online real estate space since I heard multiple people throw that number around.
  28. Rumor has it that Cyberhomes is going to spend a LOT of money on advertising this year in order to reach out to consumers. This is a change from my take on their original approach in that they were going to focus on reaching out to agents by offering them a “white-label Zillow”. I like Marty Frame a lot, but I don’t think ads will do the trick. I hope they have one-more thing up their sleeve.
  29. Kris Berg is always lovely. Offline or online, she is one of my favorite people in the RE.net.
  30. Jay Thompson is another one that I found to be just as great in person. Networking with people like him is the reason to travel to NYC.
  31. The business mind of Damen Pace doesn’t stop moving.
  32. Rudy has some mad video editing skills.
  33. Daniel is the video man! It’s obvious he loves this stuff.
  34. As one would expect, Lockhart is quickly growing his team at Curbed and it was a lot of fun to meet them at the NYT party. From what I saw, Lockhart tried to dampen expansion rumors. He would only talk about Chicago at this point.
  35. BofA bought Countrywide. Lots of commentary on Jillayne’s post on RCG and Brian Brady’s post on Bloodhound.
  36. Redfin’s PR about returning $10M to consumers didn’t do much for me. I’ll be more interested to find out when they start making business model changes in order to get profitable.
  37. People have begun calling Rain City Guide “Ardell’s Blog” behind my back! LOL!
  38. Inman will soon be launching a new website with new features and a new design.
  39. Up Yours! Video TV war! Intothebox.tv rips on BrokerIPtv.com (around second 40). Not to take sides, but I was interviewed by the BrokeIPtv team at RE connect, and will be interested to see what comes out of that. On the other side, Rachel of Intothebox is oddly interesting… In watching, I just keep waiting for something to fall or break.
  40. I could never repeat linkation too many times. I keep repeating myself and people continue to act like it is new information. Please tell me if and when I need to stop with the linkation bit. :)
  41. ActiveRain introduced a few new people from their team. Rumor was that they have some funding that they will announce soon.
  42. Brendan King and other ex-Point2 folks were passing out business cards with the company name VendAsta. My guess is that the name is only temporary.
  43. Greg Tracy has branched out the BlueRoof brand to start doing consulting and website building for other real estate professionals. He “gets it”, so I can only imagine further success ahead.
  44. I really do enjoy just about everyone in the RE.net and real estate tech communities. 2008 is going to be fun!

Phew! Now I think I’m caught up so that I can get back to regular updates!

47 thoughts on “45 Things I Learned at RE Connect

  1. Wow, someone was really paying attention last week. Great recap, a lot of stuff happened last week! It was great meeting you and getting to know you better at the google party.

  2. Thanks Steve, Sara and Andy!

    Sara: It was definitely a lot of fun meeting you as well! You were a rock-star taking the chance on bringing so many of us to the Googleplex!

  3. Dustin – Thanks for the recap for those of us who could not attend. I am still waiting for Altos Research to head to the Midwest with their data.

  4. GREAT list, was fun catching up in NYC with everyone.

    Two points of clarification.
    1) Trulia expects to be profitable at some point in 2008, see last few paragraphs here http://www.truliablog.com/?p=261

    2) comScore measures unique users and Hitwise measures individual visits which are two very different numbers, that’s part of the difference between the numbers.

    See you all at Inman this summer.

    Pete

  5. hi dustin!

    fantastic list. hanging with you is always a good time….4realz!

    do you remember if we beat jon and sara at foosball at the google party? i had a little too much “google juice” if you know what i mean :)

    best,

    - rudy

    p.s. glad you enjoyed the video

  6. SWEET- Cliffnotes for Inman

    KK’s right… who needs to go? We’ll just send you, a laptop, and a video crew next year and save on airfare and hotels :)

  7. #11 – I agree that villagemaker might be a success but only in the fact that they will sell a lot of accounts. But of those that use it the success will be few and far between. See my post about social networks

    #40 – when i saw that video i shot soda out my nose from laughing so hard

    #42 – Loren is going to SF Connect

  8. Pete: So sorry for getting the profitability facts wrong. It’s not a good excuse by any means, but I’m going to blame it on the fact that I heard this on a night that started with a lot of free pink drinks thanks to the wellcomemat boys, so I must have been mixing things up. :) Lesson learned.

  9. Good stuff Dustin, as usual. I wish I had been there myself. You know Christian at WellcomeMat is from my neck of the woods here in Marietta, GA? We partied here over the weekend, just because.

  10. Interesting Brad… I had more a few drinks with Christian (and others from WellcomeMat) and walked away very impressed with that crew.

  11. Oh and as for #41 don’t ever stop. Many still don’t seem to get it. As for #35, I bent Lockhart’s ear about Phoenix. He wouldn’t budge off of Chicago…

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  13. Thanks for plug Dustin! Sorry I missed you but I was really sick, and ended up in bed the next 2 days. At least I was able to make the panel and meetup with alot of bloggers I havent seen since SF. Hopefully next time we can catch up again!

  14. I agree with KK – thanks for doing this. Loved Jeff’s and Teresa’s photos, although I don’t recognize 1/2 the people (time to update those profile shots people!)

  15. Ines: Looking back over the photos and video were one of the key ways I wrote this post. Looking over the “evidence” I remembered a ton of interesting conversations! ;)

  16. Mike: It was great hanging out with you as well! SF should be a lot of fun and I know of at least one person/team that’s planning to add something special to the mix!

  17. This is my favorite quote from your post dude:
    “comScrore and Hitwise are measuring traffic on two different internets.”

    Two different internets? Love that.

    I came here looking for your contact info Dustin. After all the BS(ing) we did, we didn’t exchange cards. As for you comments about what WellcomeMat needs to do, you can bet that we are spending every waking hour of every day solving the exact issue that you point out. I got more than $5 placed on team WellcomeMat. We aren’t losing….period.

  18. And btw…the issue of people having to market their videos for themselves is less about inefficiencies of WellcomeMat, and more about the fact that real estate search portals are lagging hard on their acceptance of video content. We don’t feel like distributing video content to generalist video portals (like YouTube) is at all worthwhile. Very few, if not zero, people search for real estate within generalist video sites and the SEO advantages are short term (not to mention that posting real estate videos within these sites is against most of their terms of service agreements). So, it’s all about context, and we have been t-ing up real estate portals to accept our content for a long time. We’re making headway.

  19. Thanks for the mention Dustin. You are right on about the name. As you indicated we have indeed started a new company http://www.vendasta.com this is our “consulting company” and we already have quite a bit of business. We are also starting a real estate related venture (we have a new name) that will help real estate professionals utilize all social networks to connect to their social graph and get better insight and peripheral vision into consumer behaviour much earlier in the sales/buying cycle and to track and manage their online reputations.

    I will be sure to keep you up to speed on our developments. We are currently raising some initial capital to aggressively pursue this software development. We feel a need for speed to market rather then bootstrapping it ourselves.

    Best,

    Brendan

  20. Dustin,

    You get all the rumors don’t you? I’m interested to hear more about #42, haha :)

    Thanks for the recap…..you jarred my memory on a few things that otherwise may have faded into the google party abyss :)

  21. Dustin — I have to believe you didn’t miss anything worth passing on. This list is valuable on so many levels — thanks.

    The common thread I keep hearing from those for whom I hold much respect, is the networking that went on in NY.

    Would it be your contention also, the networking was the most valuable benefit taken away from the ‘Connect’?

    Thanks again — the list is awesome.

  22. Jeff: I’d have to agree that networking is the reason to go to a RE Connect conference. I’m positive there is LOTS and LOTS of great information being presented all day long, but I’m usually too busy meeting up with people to attend many of them.

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  24. Dustin-

    Didn’t get a chance to go…but after reading your post I have just gotten a big rush of adrenaline. Online Real Estate is just beginning…I better get back to work!

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