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Broker Public Portal: What Investment is Needed to Make Comparison to Travel Industry

broker-public-portalI alluded to the industry combatting the portals with an Orbitz strategy in January of 2014, which turned out to be the case in February (2015) after Broker Public Portal was announced.

The industry is taking a Orbitz strategy. Great. Though travel and real estate are very different industries – it can be done, certainly Orbitz has proved that in the travel vertical.

But…how much funding/investment will Broker Public Portal need to have a chance?

Some relevant history on Orbitz:

Five airlines–United Airlines Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., Continental Airlines Inc., Northwest Airlines Corp., and, later, AMR Corp. (American Airlines)–teamed to create a new online travel service. (American became an equity partner in March 2000; total start-up funding was around $100 million.) Together, the five founding partners controlled 90 percent of seats on domestic commercial flights. Existing computer reservations systems such as SABRE did not present competing fares in an unbiased way, said company officials.

As an industry, are you willing to invest over $100 million into this project? If not, I’d prepare yourselves for a rough ride.

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • Michael Wurzer

    $100M is nothing for the industry. They spent that on a CMA with RPR, so $100 to create a compelling public facing portal should be no problem.

    • Do they view the $100 m on RPR a success?

      • Michael Wurzer

        The question was whether they’re willing to invest the money, not whether or how they measure success.

        • Fair enough. I guess that’s another post.

  • rolandestrada

    100 Million? Over how much time? In one of your posts you mentioned much less than that to fund real estate tech startups. If you need 100 million, how could those startups ever succeed? Answer – they aren’t the BPP, which you hate.

    Quote from your post – “Raise $500,000 (or more). Fund 10 startups with $50,000 each, or 5 with $100,000. I would guess making a few bets on start-ups would be a better bet in the long term — though there’s also the issue of convincing early startups to take money from a fund whose goal is to create something beneficial to agents/brokers. Successful consumer startups succeed precisely because they build consumer friendly products first, not industry friendly offerings. So, those two goals don’t seem to align to make a startup fund by brokers an interesting proposition.”

    I’m marking this on my calendar for future Claim Chowder.

    • Orbitz’s goal was to challenge the leaders in the industry. If that’s BPP’s goal (and maybe it’s not), then they are going to need a massive war chest – particularly given they will have to vastly overpay for everything, and have consultants do the work.

      Putting small amounts of money into numerous different startups is a totally different strategy that would puts lots of small eggs in many baskets rather than all in one large basket. One of those might take off, and they’d have a much smaller piece of a much larger overall pie. It’s not an either or. If the industry has the money, they could take both strategies at the same time.

      I still want to know. Whose passion project is BPP? Who cares about it so much they are going to knock down walls to deliver the best product possible and make it succeed? I assure you, no site/portal/app aiming to win over consumers will win without that person / persons.

      • rolandestrada

        The passion is to have a data accurate site by and for real estate agents. Again with the model being “your listing, your lead”. There will also be an emphasis on the consumer, because without that, you have nothing. From my conversation with a source at last week’s meeting, that is the passion. Obviously the key individuals are moving that process forward. Nothing wrong with that. Only time will tell.

        • “The passion is to have a data accurate site by and for real estate agents.”

          There are thousands of broker/agent sites in every market that already have that.

          • rolandestrada

            There isn’t one that centralizes information on a national level, which quite frankly, agents have every right to have as an associative body. There is difference between thousands individual sites and a nationally centralized agent centric portal with direct MLS feeds. Your point is specious at best.

          • Again, you’re coming at it from the industry perspective. Consumers don’t give a crap how the industry works, or what any of this means to your business’ bottom line. They do not care about what you or anyone else in the industry wants. They want to buy or sell a house at the cheapest price, with minimal time, and knowing a trusted expert has their back. That’s it. How will BPP help them do that in a way Zillow or Trulia or Realtor.com does not?

            BPP will be a waste of money if it attracts no consumers/buyers, correct? If that’s true, the people behind the project should really think through what they are going to differentiate on. “accurate data” isn’t going to work, IMHO… but they can go ahead and try it.

          • rolandestrada

            No. YOU don’t get. How does the public lose having more choices? They don’t. Part of the structure of BPP is that the public has direct access the agent to whom the listing belongs – the agent that has the best info on that listing. Not some random agent pain for leads. They can email, call or text that agent directly. How can direct access to the listing agent be bad for the consumer? Again, it isn’t.

          • I never said the public loses, nor that it was bad for the consumer.

            But is that enough to get them to switch away from what they are currently doing? I doubt it.

          • rolandestrada

            The question is… Why do you even care? It won’t change your life one bit if there is a BPP. Aside from maybe the aggravation of knowing that there is a BPP. It’s amazing that you care so deeply how other people spend their money. I’m sure the folks at BPP are deeply touched that your are watching out for them and just want to save them a few bucks and heartache.

            I’ve gotta tell you man, I love your bias. It’s an absolute source of amusement for me. Let as many people into the party and see what happens.

          • Roland….. our start up, HomeZada has tens of thousands of homeowners using our application as a “digital home” to manage there personal and secure data. A Pro version is available to listing agent to share unlimited photos, documents about the home, AND they can provide an electronic copy to the successful buyer when they move….. hence the concept of a “homeowner lifecycle” This is a new concept that brings consumers and agents together on the same platform. On a small scale, consumers are adopting the platform way faster than agents. An interesting point to consider is the rate of adoption of new technology in this space when you benchmark consumers versus the real estate industry.

          • rolandestrada

            Thanks for the heads up. I’m currently using Reesio for document retention and CRM. I took a look. It’s an interesting concept. I wish you luck.

          • I think there is often a misrepresentation about the value of broker or agent sites. We are a small, independent agency with a very comprehensive LOCAL site. We get traffic and people sign in. This creates business because we can provide a service that national portals cannot. For us, a BPP would just be more competition – not a value added of any kind.

        • I get that’s the industry’s passion..to have accurate data everywhere. But like i’ve said many many times, is that enough to win in the eyes of the consumer? They’ve voted with their eyeballs…which are on the existing portals even though the data isn’t perfect.

          And that’s discounting the fact that idx/mls/brokerage data is far from accurate in all cases.

          • rolandestrada

            “But like i’ve said many many times, is that enough to win in the eyes of the consumer?”

            You keep saying that. The eyeballs are on the current portals because there is no alternative. Give the public a choice and then we can see if your theory is correct. Until that point it just a bunch of empty words on your part.

            The current portal’s data is hardly accurate. I posted those state here previously. Once again, another invalid point on your part.

          • No alternative? Give me a break. What about the thousands of agent/broker sites…that’s plenty of damn alternatives to use.

            “Give the public a choice and then we can see if your theory is correct.”

            Indeed, I will be more than happy to eat my words if BPP builds exactly what zillow/trulia built 10 years ago, puts accurate data in it, and consumers flock to it.

    • And yes… the industry doesn’t need to spend $100 m upfront. I could deliver a pretty damn compelling iOS app to the industry for far, far less than 500k. But until someone puts money into my bank account, there is zero incentive for me to figure out any details around that. Like I said, the industry can do whatever they want to. I just write my ideas here, if they don’t want to listen to them, that’s fine.

  • Jeff Hoffmann

    I would hope the first thing that the first thing the BPP folks do with their money is a little market research. You’ve already got a site out there called realtor.com and they’ve been on the offensive with ads in heavy rotation touting more timely and accurate listings. You’re already fighting an uphill battle of Zillow/Trulia mind share, you have to do so by selling the public on realtors, to get them to know and care about the difference while directing them somewhere other than the logical destination (realtor.com, which has already got the history and is selling essentially the same story as far as the public can discern). Thats some heavy duty triangulating that needs to be done to differentiate your site and get any real traction in the marketplace especially starting from scratch.

    Long story short: this fight would have been a whole lot easier if you were just fighting Zillow, there’s just a much simpler story to tell.

    • I don’t need to say anything. I think you know I agree with you on this based on all my other comments 😉

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