Attack of the Clones

Most of us spend our lives trying to forget the world we had imagined for ourselves as children. But occasionally a single act is so transcendently shameless that it makes us feel happy and human again. For example: an indignant would-be competitor in Arizona just asked an online real estate forum for help getting his money back on an effort to clone Redfin.

My name is Ron Park and I have been working with a service provider, TechnoUSA, from Houston/India to create my real estate mash-up site. My project on getacoder.com was for a Redfin.com clone, in all functionalities and appearance. They were supposed to finish the site by January 25th, 2008 but yesterday, 4/24/08, I told them I’m through with them. The site is nowhere near being a Redfin clone, and they’ve just been problematic from the start. I have given this company a total of $10,500; and the amount of money I can possibly retrieve back with these credit card disputes is $8,500… the agreement was for a Redfin clone. [the emphasis is ours]

It is one thing to copy another site, another to copy it letter for letter, yet another to publicize matter-of-factly your efforts to clone it, and still yet another to feel wronged for what you have done.

To process Mr. Park’s refund, the credit card company is asking for “a letter from another reputable merchant or service provider supporting your claim.” So far, no one has come forward. In fact, we were gratified to see other folks leap to our defense. One respondent said you could never build Redfin.com for $10,000; the true cost is apparently closer to $40,000 (which is what one of our engineers costs over three months).

The clone site copies Redfin right down to the Sweet Digs link in the footer and the message we display while fetching listings. Reviewing the site, it’s hard not to wonder if the developers had ever heard of “search and replace”: many Tareu.com pages still encourage visitors to work with Redfin. But it was the one original element that turned out to be our favorite touch: “Copyright 2008 TAREU.COM.”

tareu1.jpg

What’s amazing is that these guys aren’t even the first Redfin clones. That honor belongs to Allcheckdeals, an online brokerage in India run by naukri.com. Allcheckdeals copied Redfin right down to our graphics, albeit with a Groucho-Marx style disguise:

allcheckdeals and Redfin

Here, courtesy of Sellsius blog, are the graphics Redfin was running at the time:

redfin icons

Many thanks to Morgan Carey, CEO of Real Estate Webmasters, for bringing this to our attention. Mr. Park participated in the Real Estate Webmasters’ forums but is not a Real Estate Webmasters customer.

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