We found a flick about us on YouTube in which a guy by the name of Joel manages to bring together water closets and real estate. At first we thought this was a secret test by our beloved Marketing department trying out our first TV spot. But then it dawned on us that Eric Heller and Glenn Kelman are on vacation. This is for real.
We liked how Joel compared plumbers and real estate agents. We have often made a similar reference to booksellers. When Amazon.com (where several Redfinnians worked in a prior life) launched its website in 1995 and received immediate and widespread attention, the bookstore owners cried foul. The press talked about the demise of the old-fashioned bookstore. Some bookstores that could barely support themselves were crushed by Amazon.com and similar online plays.
However, the viable bookstores are thriving. Some of our all-time favorites include Elliot Bay Books in Seattle, Kepler’s in Menlo Park, or the famous City Lights bookstore in San Francisco. Not to mention Powell’s in Portland, which now has a booming online presence on Amazon.com. In addition to these tried-and-true booksellers, Amazon.com created a new breed (and a new generation) of penny-booksellers. Their business model is to give away books they get for free and charge only for handling and shipping. They make $1 per order on the handling.
Book shoppers now have a choice — buy the book new for a discount, or, used at a rock-bottom price. Get the personalized advice from the good ol’ book store keeper, or the power of customer feedback. Almost everyone wins. We believe the business of real estate will change in similar ways.
We’re just not quite ready to accept that waterless toilets with a composting bin underneath are the wave of the future. Joel has started to convince us though.
Sebastian and Rob