On Friday, 12/14/07, the NAR announced the names of the Board Members for the Realtor sponsored Second Century Ventures Fund (no Website yet). Hopefully we're not a day late and a dollar short.
The Big 3 of Search, Google, Yahoo and MSN are fighting it out in what may be the next Big Internet War. Real Estate Wars follows close on the heels of the Search Engines Map Wars, Ad Wars, Online Video Wars and Social Networking Wars.
Yahoo Real Estate already has the 2nd most visited Real Estate Website and MSN has the third most traffic-ed site after our own, numero uno, Realtor.com. Google Base has not cracked the top 20 list yet, but the game will be a lot more interesting when the boys at Google decide to put more of their mind and their $Billions into Real Estate.
If Second Century Ventures is successful, it could offer the NAR and us Realtors an ongoing holiday present, lowering our yearly membership dues, after we make our $16/year dues increase to cover the start up and support the ongoing founding for Second Century Ventures.
My concern is that the Board will use their Realtor Mind Set and keep a closed mind and a closed fund to what is happening out there on the Web. Hopefully we won't go the way of the newspapers, our former favorite place to advertise, and not embrace the opportunities the Web has to offer.
Venture Funds invest in game-changing, mold-breaking and tradition-threatening companies like Zillow ($87MM in 3 rounds), Trulia and Redfin and not brokerages like RE/MAX, ERA or Realogy. If the company's eventual return on investment isn't in the $20 MM ballpark in 3to 5 years the idea is referred to as "a life-style company."
Can the NAR simultaneously fund both a start-up company wanting to open up all our MLS listing data to the Internet to sell online ads and then fund the legal defense of a Realtor's Association fighting to keep that data proprietary?
Zillow will soon have a Web page and data for every property in the US. And Zillow has already figured out at least 5 ways to determine if a home is "For Sale" and even more lucrative, "About to be For Sale":
- The "Make Me Move" Program
- Data crunch around the spike in click traffic on a home for sale
- Homeowners and Agents claiming the home and updating the home's information to get it ready to sell.
- Broker bulk upload of listing data to Zillow: ERA ad RE/MAX in the Washington, DC Area.
- A contract with an 11 newspaper chain (over 280 papers) to share classified Real Estate info.
- What if we traded our listing data for free advertising?
The Genie is out of the bottle for our listing data. The online ad market, which we've conceded to the Search Engines and Zillow, could still be ours. We need to have a National MLS with an online ad revenue model and a media business model.
The smartest move with Second Century by the NAR may have be the appointment to the Board of Mark Lesswing, the Director of NAR's Center for Realtor Technology. Mark has been in the forefront of NAR's move to get a unified data platform for all MLSs. Hopefully Mark will have the major influence on the technology investments which are the heart and soul of successful Venture Firms.
With the Second Century Ventures Fund we have a chance to be part of our own destiny, if we can see past our local interests.
Mark Lesswing, Can you help?
Posted by: Cliff Jacobson
Adapt Or Die! Happy Searching.
WebHomeUSAblog; The Blog of Real Estate Search Marketing