Be Jane acquired by… Builder Homesite [4realz Exclusive]

be janeA few days ago, Be Jane announced they were bought, but hadn’t said by whom, which led a few to speculate who the buyer might be.   I’m happy to say that has the scoop that the new buyer is Builder Homesite.

Here’s the story.

A little while ago I was introduced to Chief Jane and we had some great conversations about what online real estate companies would be a good fit for acquiring Be Jane.   We talked through all the big online search sites (and I even introduced her to a few people I knew), but I got the feeling that the “right” home for Be Jane wasn’t with any of my contacts.

Fast forward a few months…

bhi_2007_logoBuilder Homesite is on a rampage. Last week,  they announced that they are running Move’s New Home channels:

“Through this new strategic partnership [with Move, Inc], Builders Digital Experience (BDX) will operate the New Homes Channel and, the country’s two most visited new homes websites”

And then this week, I’m told that they bought Be Jane.

The idea behind buying Be Jane has to be that Builder Homesite is looking to quickly build out a portal geared toward woman… and why not.  Be Jane has a library of DIY articles and videos as well as a large female community interested in the topic.

In terms of Builder Homesite, I know almost nothing about the company except what I’ve read over the past week or so and what little I can gleam from their website.  Nonetheless, their flurry of recent activity tells me they’ll likely be a great partner with Move, where the discussion of acquisitions, partnerships, lawsuits, etc. was so common it felt like background noise after a while.

With these additional resources (Move’s New Home connections and Be Jane’s content/community), Builder Homesite is a really interesting player to watch in the home building space and potentially a great home for the Be Jane team.

Move Brings in a New CEO

From the press release: Move Names Steve Berkowitz as Chief Executive Officer:

Move “today announced that Steven H. Berkowitz, a 25-year veteran of the media content, advertising and Internet industries, has been named as the Company’s Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Mr. Berkowitz has served on Move’s Board of Directors since June 2008. He succeeds W. Michael Long, who is retiring from the Company and the Board.”

That’s really interesting on a number of levels, not the least of which is that Lorna Borenstein, the current President, did not get the job of CEO.

How much lower can Move go?

When I started at Move in May ’06, the stock (and my options) was priced at slightly above $6.  Today, I see the stock end today at $0.89, making for a very sad looking chart and definitive proof that I know nothing about timing my employment options.  I’m also not particularly good at reading financials, but I do know enough to know that having a market cap of $136M when you have $140M in total assets (down from over $200M in total assets from last year) is not a good thing.  I’d think they’d be an obvious take-over target except my guess is that many suitors would view the contract with NAR as more of an impediment to growth than an asset.

Which begs an interesting question… How much lower would the stock have to go before NAR steps in, realizes Russell’s dream and buys back operation of from Move?  My guess is that there’s a bunch of reasons this couldn’t happen, but still… It would seem that something will have to give at some point if the stock price keeps dropping.

On a more positive note for Move, they did win their patent case today that had to do with putting listings on a map (at least that’s how I remember the case being explained to me!).

Jonathan Washburn makes it interesting…

I thought it was interesting when he recently took a shot at Rich Barton and Pete Flint (twice), but my jaw dropped when I started reading his post criticizing (to put it nicely) Move’s opperation of Turns up the Heat and…

…I really like how they’ve mapped it out!  😉

The team recently turned on a “heat map” option within their home valuation tool.  Here’s a heat map of Ballard in Seattle where you can really see the detail of the more expensive areas (in particular the areas around the water!): Heat Map Screenshot

It’s clean, fast and well implemented.  On my version of firefix (v 3) on a Mac, I’m not seeing the legend that others appearently can see, but that is the only hole I can find in the implementation.

To get an idea of just how detailed these maps are, it’s worth comparing to the previous implementation that exists on on the neighborhood page for this same area on showing average neighborhood list price: heat map from neighborhoods project

I think it is also worth noting that neither Zillow or Trulia have done much to bring the same level of detail to the maps… For example, Trulia’s heat maps are limited to the neighborhood level with boundaries

Trulia Heat Maps

And the option to display heat maps on Zillow no longer seems to be available (although I did find this page which shows what they used to look like on Zillow).

heat map for the seattle area on Zillow

Anyway I love maps and think they can convey a ton of great information about neighborhoods and homes, so it’s great to see someone pushing the boundaries even if I’ve been giving the team a hard time recently for other issues (see home values and blog hack articles).