Thoughts before a big week

Two weeks ago, I got back from my first real vacation in 5 years. And I’m just now catching up – right in time to spend the week in San Francisco for the Inman show.

I’ve been light on posting during this time, so I thought I’d share a few things I’m thinking about headed into the Big Week.

Zillow’s IPO went off swimmingly. I look like a crank for saying I wouldn’t buy the stock; seems a lot of people did.

I am happy for them. I generally root for anyone that tries to sell new products or solutions into the real estate industry. Because I know it’s about as easy as trying to invade Russia in the winter.

Zillow survived the cold. I hope they enjoy a moment of warmth before they get to work keeping the growth story going.

Airbnb, the company that connects people looking to crash somewhere with people willing to host them, announced yesterday that they’ve raised a new investment round.

$112 million.

Yes, that’s right. Big idea. Big reach. Big money.

I mentioned them here in February, suggesting that anyone interested in potentially disruptive plays around real estate should keep an eye on them. They are selling shelter, person-to-person, while taking a small cut.

Their co-founder will be on stage at Inman this week. It’s a session I’m not going to miss.

I’ve been thinking a lot about MLS stuff the past few days in anticipation of moderating the MLS track at Inman.

I keep ending up in dark places.

For example, it seems to me that most MLSs today are structurally incapable of innovation. They’re filled with the wrong people doing the wrong jobs and constrained by oddly skewed incentives.

Asking the average MLS to keep up with a world in which data is ambient and people become outraged when charged $6.99 for unlimited streaming movies is like asking me to beatbox Beethoven’s 5th.

Ain’t gonna happen.

This presents a couple options:

  1. Hand over the keys to a larger MLS now while there’s still money in the bank
  2. Rip apart the existing structure with a crowbar and start from scratch

I know there will be many who disagree with this rather bleak assessment.

If you are more sanguine, why?

You’ve probably read about this elsewhere by now, but Diverse Solutions, a relatively small IDX provider, released a really nice mobile solution a couple weeks back. Mobile, as you may have heard, is kind of important these days.

I like these guys because they’ve consistently nailed user interface design where so many in their space lag. It’s tough to make IDX look pretty when you’re dealing with heavy-duty data issues, but they’ve done it. I hope they can maintain it as they expand their coverage.

Turns out Apple’s new OS X Lion comes with a built-in e-signature tool. I’ve been using Lion for several days now and probably never would have discovered it were it not for this blog post.

It seems a little clunky at first, but it actually works.

In the same vein, within the last week, DocuSign released a free version of its e-signature app and EchoSign was purchased by Adobe.

I am still holding out hope for the paperless real estate transaction!

I was in a bad mood last night. Then I watched the video below. I felt a little better.

Enjoy, and may your mood be light:

Sesame Street breaks it down from Wonderful Creative on Vimeo.