Redfin has been showing up all over the place lately. Some Redfin customers were on a Seattle TV news magazine the other night, looking oddly proud but also a little self-conscious about uprooting a bedroom vanity with their bare hands, while Redfin super-agent Kelly Engel and her one-eyed chihuahua closed deals left and right.
A Windermere President argued that you could buy the same house from Redfin that you could from a traditional brokerage, but that it would be like a gift that came in a K-Mart box rather than a Tiffany’s box (never mind that the same stuff isn’t for sale at K-Mart and Tiffany’s, or that far more people shop at K-Mart than Tiffany’s, or that E-Trade, Amazon, Redfin and other e-commerce companies don’t look anything like K-Mart). Last we checked, the online video on King 5′s site was running a traditional brokerage’s ad that closed with a not-very-Tiffany’s-like fart joke.
And then we also made Fortune’s list of the year’s top 24 innovators. The awards ceremony consisted of taking a bus to a rented photo studio in a run-down part of San Francisco.
The photo-shoot was led by a charismatic man from Brooklyn with the luminous skin and dripping-black, shoulder-length hair of Sarah Silverman. He wore a blue t-shirt from Sammy’s Romanian Steak House in the Lower East Side, and walked around in bare feet.
He playfully spanked his assistant, and insisted we get batteries for a megaphone that Yelp’s founders had brought to the shoot, so they could yell in my ear. He showed us pictures he had taken of Terrell Owens in his pool, which was surrounded by life-sized leather sculptures of giraffes and (not in the pictures) rap-video quantities of gorgeous women.
He asked me about LA. Anxious to say something cool even though I really like LA, I mumbled William Faulkner’s observation that it was the “plastic asshole of the world.”
“So that’s just what they say in California when something’s cool? That it’s PLASTIC ASS?”
“I don’t think so. I mean, I don’t know, I’m not even from California anymore.”
“Hey man, THAT’S PLASTIC ASS.”
He followed many shots by saying “THAT’S PLASTIC ASS.” Each time he did, I thought of a friend from New York, whose kindly Jewish mother used to put her eye to the camera and say “premature ejaculation!” before snapping the picture. I think of this whenever I need to smile.