Big news! The founder and long-time CEO of CarMax, Austin Ligon, is visiting Redfin in Seattle next Tuesday, May 18, and he’s leading a brown-bag discussion at noon here in our Seattle office on all the topics dear to our hearts:
- How to build a trusted brand in an industry where trust is broken
- How to become one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” six years running
- The return-on-capital of different business models for expanding: direct service, franchised operations and joint ventures
- The growth pains Austin went through growing a $5-billion Fortune 500 company from nothing
Austin and Redfin have plenty in common. Like us, Austin has testified before Congress about anti-competitive industry laws and rules: in our case, laws banning real estate commission refunds and rules limiting what data we can publish; in his case, laws banning national new-car retailers or the Sunday sales of any cars whatsoever, even via the Internet.
Like us, Austin took on a vast, well-funded incumbent: I had always thought the largest class of self-made millionaires consisted of real estate brokers, but Austin insists it’s car dealers. And both of us raised cash that gave us the time to build an operationally complex, capital-intensive operation capable of generating increasing profits at increasing scale.
When we first met, Austin said he thought of Redfin as the CarMax of real estate and I told him we thought of CarMax as the Redfin of cars. A while back when Redfin was raising money, we shamelessly compared ourselves to CarMax; the graphic to the right was the last slide of our deck. We still have a lot to learn about how CarMax really works.
Austin’s brown-bag talk will start at noon here in Redfin’s Seattle office, 2025 1st Avenue. Then at 3:30 we’re going to the UW to talk about how to develop Seattle as a humongous entrepreneurial hub, and finally at 6:30, we’ll head over to the Seattle 2.0 awards. All three events are open to the public, so if you see us around town, please be sure to say hi.
To hear Austin’s brown-bag talk, just add your name to the list here so we know how many pizzas to order; the UW colloqium requires no advance registration, and Seattle 2.0 will cost you $69. Thanks to Austin for coming out, and hope to see you all here for his talk!