Something Brittle That Would Never Break: Redfin Opens in Denver

Redfin opened for business in Denver today, the sixth market we’ve launched in the past twelve months, and our 16th overall. We hired the perfect person to run the business, a dog-rescuing, snowshoeing outdoors fanatic: Michelle Ackerman. She’s someone who totally personifies our values, of putting the customer first, and always telling the complete truth about the property, the market, the process.

It’s good to be in Denver. Imagining the Boulder mountain hippies who live to ski and camp, the tech pioneers who are trying to build a startup culture in a new place, I’ve always felt a deep affinity for the Denver area. I had a great night of the soul in the Denver airport because I missed the day’s last flight out while listening to a silly song at the gate. But we had to put Denver off to hunt bigger game: Washington DC, Los Angeles, Boston, San Diego, New York, Chicago.

This initial ring of megapolises took longer than we thought because we had to learn how to ramp traffic quickly for free, how to be smart about the neighborhoods where we could initially offer local service and where we had to rely on partners, how to get our costs down in markets where homes are more affordable.

We learned a lot, then, finally, we expanded a lot. That process is almost done: we’ll open a few more markets, then take a break in expansion for a year or two, to figure out the next set of optimizations needed before we launch another tier of markets.

Most of our growth in the meantime will  come from gains in market-share: in every market, every year, our market-share has grown. As we get big enough to offer more local service in more neighborhoods within each market, we hope that share in each one reaches a tipping point. We’ll also offer new services to our customers.

But if you have to stop expanding somewhere, Denver would be a good stopping place. I still remember that when a friend lost a family member,  her college roommate sang her a John Denver lullaby over the phone. And I’ve never forgotten Benjamin Kunkel’s description of Colorado, which I wrote down back when I still read literary magazines like Granta:

The first of the beautiful ordinary things I remember are the creek gabbling away in its bed and the smell of rained-on sage bringing out an unexpected sweetness from the land: thoughts of water in a dry place. But the thinness & dryness of the air on clear days — as of something brittle that would never break — was also thrilling…

Denver increases our listing database by about 4%, so now we cover about a third of the United States.

Please tell your friends about Redfin’s expansion to Denver. In the absence of any advertising, the Redfin cult is the only thing we have to start with. And thanks to the data & expansion team who carried our torch in covered wagons to a new little house on the prairie. You guys are awesome.

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