A friend descending into Southern California once looked down on the vast grid of tinkling lights and said it was as terrifying to see as the mind of God.
I used to dislike the way LA made me feel insignificant, but now it’s almost a relief. If Gertrude Stein once complained that the problem with Oakland is that “when you get there, you’re there,” she might have said about Southern California that you when you get there, you feel like you’re not there at all. What makes all the taco trucks, the Korean strip malls, the freeways, the birdbath pools and look-alike houses not only bearable but actually and suddenly quite beautiful is the ocean on the other side of it all, serene as far as the eye can see.
Now Redfin is launching in Southern California, the largest real estate market in the world. In one magnificent land-grab, we’ve more than tripled the area we have to cover: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties. To start, we’ve hired three new agents, who (if SoCal is anything like San Francisco was) will probably spend their first few months on the job waiting for action from the Web site, and e-mailing the rest of us to tell us they’re going loco.
Or maybe things will pick up a little faster: we’re closing a whopper deal in San Diego today, and we’ve already got a few others in progress. We’re supposed to show up on TV tonight in San Diego, and the LA Times published a nice spread about us today (smiling picture; intensely regretted & insanely provocative quote, which Kevin Boer has already called me out on); we got on the radio and a podcast too. Another positive development is the Southern California bloggers already are talking trash about us.
As usual, they call us discounters, when we’re not offering a discount on a traditional service, we’re offering an online service at a different price, with a different business model and 95+% customer satisfaction. Amazon.com is not a discount bookstore. Redfin.com’s goal is to be different and better too, not just cheaper.
And hey, did you notice that Redfin.com has smaller icons, and it’s running faster today? We put some serious hardware on company plastic, squashed our file sizes and got down and dirty optimizing our code. Some day, we’re going to have to write a post on the tradeoffs between Flash and AJAX, which we’ve had to learn about as we go. The big issue we’re still working on — crucifixion by comments, please — is Safari support, which we lost when we switched to Virtual Earth.
For now, please tell your Southern California friends about us, and thanks for all your support.