MyFrontSteps at Inman

June 27, 2008
Things are starting to come together at MyFrontSteps. We have been selected as a participant on a panel to discuss new real estate technology.  The panel is appropriately titled: Changing the industry: 5 ideas at a time .  In this venue we will be talking about  our StepRep product for home service providers. However, we have been around in the industry long enough to know that “a new tool” for real estate professionals, while exciting, won’t be game changing proposition unless you can bring the consumer along , and en mass at that.
So what, you might ask, do we have for the consumer?  Well, were not really saying just yet but we have been experimenting with Common Craft style videos.  Here is an early try at a high level partial explanation of MyFrontSteps  Like I said, this is one of our very early videos so please be kind. 🙂

News from the News People

June 5, 2008

Some interesting news from the news people at Inman.  Jessica is moving on and Joel and Glenn are moving up.  All of us at VendAsta are going to miss Jessica.We have gotten to know and appreciate her over the years.  Jessica we wish you well in your new adventure. I hope we still have the pleasure of crossing paths. 


Congrats to Joel and Glenn.   Joel certainly has a a keen insight into the future of real estate marketing.  He is especially apt at identifying and dissecting the latest and greatest.  Joel you will make a great VP Content. 


I have had the pleasure of being interviewed and meeting Glenn over the course of the years.  He is a super nice guy with a mild demeanor, but don’t let that fool you.  Glenn does his homework and has a way of capturing the essence of the story and getting all the facts.  Glenn you will make a great managing editor.

Piclens is Super Cool and Super Smart Too

June 4, 2008

Looks like I am not the only one that likesPiclens (see my Trulia Snapshot review ).  YouTube’s head of monetization Shashi Seth has left YouTube-owner Google to become the chief revenue officer at Cooliris to head up monetization of Piclens.  I think it is super smart on the part of Cooliris and Kleiner Perkensto start thinking about monetization early on in the game. Look for this same strategy from a really super cool bunch of guys from the North. 🙂

Trulia Begins to Give Consumers What They Want

May 30, 2008

I really like Trulia Snapshots.  Congrats Pete and Sami and the Trulia team for a nice job.  Those of you who follow my blog (and Jeff’s) will know that we have been yammering for years to anyone who would listen about the importance of rich data to consumer in home search or, as it turns out, any kind of search.           

 There is a lot of great stuff about Trulia Snapshots.  The navigation is super slick and the Apple/iphone like bounce effects are cool. I really love the price slider. Trulia does a nice job of “getting” what people are looking for with respect pricing and photos. although in some areas is would be nice to restrict or expand the price interval in some instances.  It is also tedious, in some search areas, to get to a median price where most people are probably looking. when you can only start at most expensive or least expensive and you have to “page” throught the more expensive, less expensive to get to the price range you want.  Too bad you can’t simply drag further right on the screen.                                

 The Ajaxy / javascripty stuff they have done is really cool.  Things like the flip between aerial and road views are a nice touch.  In general their Microsoft Virtual Earth implementation is sound.  That said, I wonder why I can pan the map to a new location or zoom in or out for that matter.  It doesn’t seem to do me any good.  There is no way to get homes to display in my new context.  The only way I can see to  actually get homes to display in an area is to be able to type the name of the place in the search box.  In my opinion this really needs to be addressed.                            

 Its pretty easy to allow users to recenter the search on the map someplace and recalculate the homes from the geo co-ordinates.  Even better, trulia should allow users to draw a polygon and restrict their search to a certain area.                                 

 I really like the photo browsing experience.  I think Trulia has done an okay job of focusing on a listing once it is clicked.  I sure wish I could look at more of the photos without interrupting my browsing experience.  I understand all the business reasons why Trulia makes the consumer click through and pop windows to various sites to see more.  I just don’t think it is in the best interests of the consumer.   As a consumer I want to be able to quickly browse many photos of a property to narrow my search to the few listings I really want to spend time researching.                           

 If I were Trulia I would worry less about driving lookey loos (people that click in and then immediately out back to search results) to agents and brokers sites and more about sending a trulia (couldn’t resist)  interested consumer.  To this end, if I were Trulia, I would provide home seekers with a truly immersive visual experience.  How would one do this you might ask?  Well, if they could find a way to allow consumers to “map” their price, geographic and possibly time boundaries they could then let them browse photos of homes.  Absent some refinement this is what they are doing today.  The next step is to stop interrupting the consumer’s search with new windows and new sites with disparate look at feels.  They ought to allow the consumer to browse the photos much like Piclens allows people to browse Flickr albums, Facebook albums, google image searches and even YouTube videos.  If you haven’t checked it out you need to.  You will be blown away.  How easy is this to do?  Super simple.  All Trulia would need to do is add an media rss image feed the page (like the companies above have) that dynamically changes with the search results.  Then Trulia Snapshot would truly rock!


New Inman Site Strategy Explained

April 24, 2008
I have always been a fan of free and providing value . Done right this doesn’t mean you  can’t make money (maybe you can even make more).   I really like the idea of transforming a paid subscription (web 1.0) into a paid social network (very web 2.0).   I like what Joel and his team have done with the Inman News site.  Joel talks about the obviously well thought out  strategy and execution here.  Congrats guys!
Joel, nice tips on reputation tracking btw.  We have some free value of our own coming soon at Vendasta.  🙂

AOL Buys Bebo

March 14, 2008
So AOL purchases Bebo for 850 Million – cash.  For those of you that don’t know Bebo is the number 4 social networking site in the world.  Bebo is huge in Europe and has a big base of users in California.  Not to long ago Microsoft purchased a tiny stake in Facebook with a 240 Million dollar investment. 
For sake of comparison AOL purchased Bebo for $21 dollars per member.  Microsoft’s investment in Facebook valued members at $204 dollars each.  Newscorp paid about $26 per member when it acquired MySpace. 
Why all the fuss about social networks?  Because, simply put,  Social Networking is going to an integral part of the “next big thing”.  More to come from VendAsta in the very near future.

Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business

March 11, 2008
We are heavy users of Google Docs and other free services. but the fact is we don’t use them because they are free – we use them because they are the best choice for us.  I have always believed that “Free”, in the right context, makes sense. Chris Anderson, author of the Long Tail and editor of Wired thinks so too.  Check out his latest cover story on Wired.” Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business
You may not agree with all his statements but ultimately the ideas he espouses are dead on.  There are some particularly insightful statements such as “Technology is giving companies greater flexibility in how broadly they can define their markets, allowing them more freedom to give away products or services to one set of customers while selling to another set.”   
Any provider of an online service should take note.  I know we will. 

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