Redfin today announced its expansion to the Washington, D.C. area and a $12-million series-C financing led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson, the folks behind Skype, Overture and Hotmail.
The whole process of raising money from DFJ seemed to encapsulate the essential Redfin traits (persistence, serendipity, adventure, speed): Redfin wooed DFJ somewhat unsuccessfully over the course of a year; but it was a zealous customer who arranged the initial meeting; which we traveled to by plane, train and bicycle; demonstrating a website that had only been launched the day before; resulting in a closing that took just a few weeks.
In the DFJ bathroom, I remember seeing a photo of one of the partners being strapped (was it head-first?) into a go-kart for a big race and also a piece of artwork painted by another partner, and feeling sure we had come to the right place. And we had. Of all the investors we talked to, DFJ was the most committed to building a long-haul, consumer-centered business, which sounds like motherhood and apple pie but is increasingly unusual in an ad-addled world.
DFJ’s Emily Melton will join Redfin’s board; she shares the Redfin spirit of candor, dog-craziness and derring-do but also brings with her Silicon Valley’s smarts and values. In a pinch, she drives the wrong way down one-way streets.
The fund-raising itself was fun. We roared around San Francisco in a convertible Mustang; felt glamorous in big, drugstore-bought sunglasses; listened to dance music on the radio; sat around a Starbucks getting nervous in between meetings. For no reason at all, we wore cufflinks, ran demos that didn’t work, slept on a friend’s couch to save money.
Many thanks to the folks at Redfin now and before who got the company to this point, to our partners at Madrona, Vulcan, BEV and Orrick for their constant support, to DFJ of course for leading the round, and last but not least, to all our friends in Silicon Valley and San Francisco who gave us a little help along the way.
And now of course we have to celebrate, with the opening of the Washington, D.C. market, which includes Baltimore and suburban Virginia. We used to launch these markets with one guy in his basement, e-mailing a dozen of his neighborhood friends for our “viral campaign,” but now we’ve got a huge list of people to notify that we’ve arrived in the area, and a team of folks led by Catherine Jardine, and many promises to keep too.