Online real estate grows up

“Our little baby’s all growed’s up…” – Trent Walker, Swingers, 1996

Sure seems like a different world out there now.

Back in 2006, when I started writing the Future of Real Estate Marketing blog, there was a palpable sense that big change was happening in online real estate. Real estate 2.0 was the buzzword of the day.

Zillow, Trulia, Redfin and a slew of other VC-funded swingers had just come hard-charging into the space, full of swagger and bravado.

Six years later, alpha dog Zillow is now a publicly traded company ($Z) and is angling its business toward real estate software. It’s probably the best thing they could do strategically for their shareholders, but hardly what you’d call bold.

The rest of the pack quickly falling in line too.

Pete Flint, Trulia’s CEO, is buttoned-up and making the rounds in anticipation of an IPO. And today, word that Sami Inkinen, one of the co-founders of Trulia, is stepping down from an active role in the company.

It’s all good – companies and people change – but part of me misses the early, hungry, blue sky days.

Back in Seattle, you have Redfin also reshuffling the decks for a (possible?) IPO – hiring a new CMO, moving to a more traditional business model, and looking more and more like ZipRealty reincarnated ($ZIPR).

I don’t begrudge any of these moves, nor do I think are the wrong plays. And frankly, I am happy to see innovators get their well-deserved exits.

But what once felt like a breath of fresh air in this space, now feels just a little less invigorating.

We still see innovation out there, but it’s on a much smaller scale and with much smaller ambitions.

Part of me, though, misses the swagger.