Barbie Takes a Bite (Again!)

 The following post was on an unauthorized topic by one of the local real estate mavens who contribute to Redfin’s blog. The writer no longer works for Redfin, which has published a retraction on our corporate blog. We have great and genuine respect for Kris Berg. We apologize for this post. (Glenn Kelman, Redfin CEO)

barbie.JPG

I am not a big fan of “competitor” bashing. I usually figure that, unless someone does something that is unethical, disingenuous or hurtful, there is room in this world for differences. The abundance of choices and our freedom to make them is at the very foundation of this country’s moral compass.

Redfin has sometimes been characterized as the anti-realtor. That is a manipulation of the truth. Sure, there are lots of things we don’t like about traditional real estate and making a change motivates us. But, those who tout our demise are the traditionalists looking for reasons to justify the preservation of practices we truly don’t support. Barbie is one of those looking. Not only is she looking, but she is stewing, biting, overindulging and making herself sick.

In all fairness, hunger makes people behave badly. I am reminded of the proverb about the impoverished old lady who stole a loaf of bread to feed her family. Did her desperation justify her actions? The difference is that our lady isn’t starving, in fact she’s feeding herself to excess. And she’s doing it with others’ contributions.

Anyone can organize a canned food drive, but without can openers, a cook top and plastic ware, what good does it do? Isn’t that pretty superficial? Same with blogger fodder. What is the value of feeding your readers meat of any quality if you took the goods from someone else’s fridge and then serve it up with bitter herbs? Everyone ends up with a bad taste, longing for a barf bag and mouthwash.

Barbie and Ken have accrued quite enough wealth of their own and could easily throw a gracious party. Yet, they choose to feed on the wealth of others instead, taking just the bits they want and serving a meal without all the food groups. If you want a canned meal disguised as a formal soiree, they’re throwing a gala. If you want a quality caterer without all the pretentious fluff, there are better places to party.

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  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com Jay Thompson

    “Redfin has sometimes been characterized as the anti-realtor”

    Gee, ya think? Take a look at this post and ask yourself why.

    This post is utterly ridiculous. You’re going to bash an agent, including name-calling, becasue she mentions your change in business model?

    I hope you treat your clients better than you treat fellow professionals.

    Have you met Kris Berg? She’s one of the nicest, most caring and compassionate people I know. And she’s a damn fine real estate agent too.

    You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • http://maxsell.net Brad Nix

    You start this post with “I am not a big fan of “competitor” bashing.” and then proceed to bash a competitor.

    I don’t know you (Carol D. Hian) or Kris Berg personally, but I do know is petty and I agree with Jay when he says…”I hope you treat your clients better than you treat fellow professionals.”

    My guess is Kris Berg will take the high road on this one.

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com Jay Thompson

    As seen on Twitter:

    “Wow, My respect for Redfin and Carol D Hian, has gone down signficanty. Good thing these post come back to bite the author, hard.”

    And no, I didn’t write it.

    Word travels swiftly when one inserts foot deep into mouth.

  • http://activerain.com Bob Stewart

    Ha!, you aren’t a fan of competitor bashing? What was that hypocritical hammer job with which you followed up that sentence in the next three paragraphs?

    Funny that you only link to one blog commenting on Redfins move toward traditional. Surely there were many others?

  • http://lanebailey.com Lane Bailey

    Talk about an empty post…

    All you did in this post was trash another agent for having a canned food drive and donating the food to a food bank. Maybe instead of whining like a three you old you could do a can opener drive…

    And then to do all of this crying because you got called out over changing your business plan is seriously petty. $20m in venture capital, and you can’t even figure out how to actually make money yet… It seems the only thing you can figure out is that you needed to make your business model more tradition to even have a shot…

    So much for turning the real estate world on its collective ear.

  • http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com Joseph Ferrara.sellsius

    If you’re going to bash a professional for their opinion, you might consider picking on one you can best. Your “Barbie” may be a looker but her intelligence is not something I’d challenge lightly– not to mention her wit. Redfin may end up filet — perhaps suitable for the next canned food drive.

    From my corner, Redfin’s model is neither new nor overwhelmingly embraced by consumers.

    Granted, Redfin provides a choice to consumers, which is necessary, but you are far from being everyone’s doll of choice.

  • Carol

    Although I have not met Kris and she has not met me, I have followed her blog and admire her writing and commentary. I have even gone out of my way to let her know that. But repeated biting makes one agitated and at a certain point it is necessary to bite back. My previous opinions aren’t changed. I will continue to appreciate Kris’ contributions but that does not mean I won’t speak up when she chooses to undermine ours.

  • Jon

    I am not a real estate agent, as most commenters here appear to be. I’m just a soon to be homeowner interested in real estate in San Diego.

    But I do find this post not only childish, but insulting.

    “Everyone ends up with a bad taste, longing for a barf bag and mouthwash.”

    You’re right. That describes me to a T after reading this drivel.

    I am considering using Redfin as my agency, but I wouldn’t ever consider using Ms. Hian as my agent.

    “Biting back” at Ms. Berg is one thing, but you bit back at everyone that contributed to that food drive. How is that appropriate?

  • http://allaboutathensga.com Michelle DeRepentigny

    “I am not a big fan of “competitor” bashing.” Then why did you go there? Kris gives of her time and intelligence daily to help other agents and her clients.

    An attack on a successful food drive makes you sound petty and elitist, even if you aren’t. And the “party” versus a food drive line is too reminiscent of “let them eat cake”.

    I’m going to brush my teeth now, you are the one who has left a bad taste in my mouth.

  • http://www.daltonsazhomes.com/blog Jonathan Dalton

    Absolutely astounding.

    If you’re an NAR member, you may want to take a long look at the Code of Ethics. Just a thought.

    You also may want to take a look at the mothership’s blog at some point. Doesn’t seem as if you’ve read much of it.

  • http://realestatezebra.com Daniel Rothamel, The Real Estate Zebra

    This is despicable on so many different levels that I don’t even know where to start, so I won’t even bother.

    I think that Jon hit the nail squarely on it’s head.

  • http://www.theharrimanteam.com The Harriman Team

    Talk about man’s inhumanity to man…this has to be one of the most inhumane posts I’ve ever read. The previous posters here, both realtors and non-realtors alike, have made it abundantly clear that you put your foot in your mouth with this one, clear up to the kneecap. And then you proceed to try to justify your diatribe by using the “but she did it to me” defense. Not too smart. Name-calling and making judgments based on one’s appearance are totally unnecessary and will certainly come back to bite you in the proverbial butt. The Internet is notoriously quick to disseminate information, even quicker when that information is derogatory and insulting. No one has yet said it, and I doubt you will agree, but I do believe an apology to Kris Berg is very much in order.

  • http://www.bloodhoundrealty.com/BloodhoundBlog/ Greg Swann

    I hate the kind of monkey-see-monkey-do cronyism that drives too much of the RE.net, but I can’t imagine what you were thinking by doing this. Your point, if any, is lost on me. Should the Bergs feed-the-people out of their own pockets, rather than by organizing a canned food drive? Should they have had a four-food-groups drive instead? I think you’re simply whining because Kris is a very talented writer.

    I’m a very talented reader, so I want to draw your attention to two words in your post: “bitter herbs.” If this is not an anti-semitic jab, then you are even more thoughtless — a word in English that means “without having thought” — than this post would indicate.

    You’re free to do what you want, and I’ll defend your right to do it, even the anti-semitism, but I cannot for the life of me conceive of an objective that would have been advanced by this artifact of the mind.

  • anon

    What does “bitter herbs” mean and why would anybody think that’s an anti-semetic comment?

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com/the-most-asinine-real-estate-blog-post-ever/913 Jay Thompson
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  • http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com Joseph Ferrara.sellsius

    Well said Jon. The food drive dig detracts from the point.

    BTW, did you attend the Greg Swann Blog School for Ad Hominem Esoteric Malevolence(AHEM)?

  • http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com Joseph Ferrara.sellsius

    Bitter herbs an anti-Semitic jab? That Greg Swann– what a nebbish nincompoop.

  • http://www.bawldguy.com BawldGuy Talking

    Glenn Kelman himself knows Kris personally, and will be, in my judgment embarrassed by this pathetic attention grab. He also is the one to whom you should be looking for the business model change, not Kris for calling it what it is. Glenn won’t disagree with most if not all of what Kris wrote.

    You’ve been a competitor (very loose use of the concept) and while charging truckloads more than you do, Ken and Barbie have already done more business this year than you’ll do in the next five. If you studied what they do for their clients the next couple years you still wouldn’t be within shouting distance of their level of expertise, results, and client satisfaction/loyalty.

    I know Kris. On your best day you wouldn’t merit the honor of being a pimple on her dog’s ass. How’s that for ‘bashing a competitor’?

  • http://blog.redfin.com Glenn Kelman

    This post makes me physically ill. It is not consistent with how those of us at Redfin who have met Kris Berg feel about her or her charitable activity. Kris is a wonderful human being and a credit to our profession.

    We have a clear policy that the contractors who contribute local posts about the real estate market should focus only on the real estate market, not on competitors. We are clear with everyone with whom we work that Redfin works as a partner with other real estate brokers, not as an antagonist.

    Had we known that Ms. Hian felt this way about Realtors, we would not have commissioned her to write for Redfin at all.

    As much as we would like to, we cannot take the post down because it would be sneaky to do so. But we will take steps to ensure something like this never happens again.

    I apologize on behalf of Redfin for this post, both to Kris Berg and to the real estate profession.
    Regards, Glenn

  • Doug Lindstrom

    What a joke! What was the point of this post? To say that people (in this case, the Berg’s) are making too much money and therefore should throw a better party for people that need nourishment. This takes jealousy to a completely different level.

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  • http://www.therealestatebloggers.com Tom Royce

    I wrote this on Twitter, Jay, and will take full credit for it.

    “Wow, My respect for Redfin and Carol D Hian, has gone down signficanty. Good thing these post come back to bite the author, hard.”

    Reputation management is tough and will be a full time occupation. Carol knew what she was doing was not the smartest thing, if you question that why would she put up the caveat in the first sentence.

    About the only way out now is to put up a full and complete apology and link to it very often.

    We all make mistakes, it is human nature, just with Google these mistakes do not go away so quickly.

  • Robert Luna

    Glenn, on behalf of all of us taken back by this post Thank you for your comment and Redfin’s position on this.

    Carol, I hope this has been a learning experience for you on “what not to do” and how social networks police themselves especially when good people like the Berg’s are being bashed.

  • http://therealestatecoach.wordpress.com/ TheRECoach

    Nice job Miss Hian, in 1 ill-timed “Open Mouth/Insert Foot” moment, you have singlehandedly embarressed yourself, your company, and family of Bloggers who work hard to overcome just this type of “Trash”. I am sure your mother and your Boss are very proud of you today!

  • http://www.bawldguy.com BawldGuy Talking

    Seems Glenn is the standup guy I predicted. I’m looking forward to speaking with him next month at Unchained.

  • http://www.realdiablog.com Danilo Bogdanovic

    Not sure what state of mind you were in to think that you could start the post off by “I am not a big fan of “competitor” bashing” and then proceed to do just that. And on that superficial and distasteful level? Wow…

    Much like a certain county assessor in Northern Virginia, you will quickly learn that the net NEVER forgets or erases what you’ve written.

  • http://www.realdiablog.com Danilo Bogdanovic

    Glenn – Thanks for the comment and damage control. You may want to add some questions to the interview process for new hires :)

  • http://sandiegohomeblog.com Kris Berg

    I was going to say nothing publically, but I do want to briefly break my silence to say thank you to Glenn. I appreciate your comment and, while not directly related, I know you know that our differences have always been philisophical, never personal.

  • http://www.SoundBiteBlog.com Sparky

    Wow! And here I thought I was having a tough time keeping the troops on AR in line!…YIKES!

  • http://www.bawldguy.com BawldGuy Talking

    Barbie speaks! :)

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  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com Jay Thompson

    Glenn – Thanks for your apology, it is appreciated, and speaks to your character.

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  • http://columbushomesblog.com Joe Peffer

    wow, 32 comments before it even hit my feed reader, that’s an active post. It’s nice to see that for once it’s not a breakdown along business strategy lines. Better yet to see RE bloggers and professionals calling a turnip what it is and circling the wagons around someone I’ve often admired for her skill and prose.

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  • http://www.kitchener-waterloo-real-estate-investments.com/ Benjamin Bach

    Insults typically are a reflection of the person slinging the crap.

    Get busy with business, or spend time with your family & friends. It’s pathetic to spend time insulting someone who is doing well, doing good.

  • http://www.northshorerealestate.com Jay Burnham

    Dear Ms. Hian,

    In your blog,you stated, “In all fairness, hunger makes people behave badly.”

    I would like to know what your excuse is.

    Regretfully,

    Jay Burnham, VP
    Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
    North Shore, Massachusetts

  • http://blog.redfin.com/ Bahn

    This is Bahn from Redfin. I work with our bloggers on a daily basis. In response to Jon’s comment about Ms. Hian and her relationship with Redfin: our bloggers are contractors who are paid to write neighborhood commentary. We do not hire bloggers who are active real estate agents mainly because we think it gives our blog a fresh perspective on the market. They are school teachers, journalists, real estate hobbyists and so on. Unfortunately the candidness we value so much at Redfin leaves us open to missteps like this one.

    This post is not representative of the way we feel about Kris Berg or anyone else in the industry.

    Respectfully,
    Bahn

  • http://www.langfordhomesales.com Natalie Langford

    Wow, if it weren’t for Twitter, I might not have found this post. Sometimes, when I’m angry or frustrated, I do go to the keyboard. However, those files are never to be made public! This is only a reminder that when you do want to gripe in the foreversphere of blogging, incorporate a cool down period to ensure emotions don’t get in the way of common sense. Glenn, it’s great you’re going to leave this up and not remove it. I’m sure it’s painful, but there are some lessons to be taught here.

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  • http://www.titlerep.info Jeff Bernheisel

    Wow. I really don’t know what else to say. The previous commenters have pretty much summed it up for me.

  • http://www.daltonsazhomes.com/blog Jonathan Dalton

    “Bitter herbs” _ also known as moror _ refers directly to one of the symbols of Passover, which currently is in full swing.

    Just for those who were curious …

  • http://boston.condodomain.com/blog Anthony Longo

    Ouch! ooooo…..Ouch….

  • http://boston.condodomain.com/blog Anthony Longo

    Bahn…good point. Well said.

  • http://maxsell.net Brad Nix

    I was one of the first to comment on this bad idea for a post. I then went and played golf (still rubbing it in @activebob). I was pleased to see an official apology from Glen Kelman and hope this can be a learning experience for Realtors, Bloggers, and Consumers.

  • http://www.miamism.com ines

    Sad – very sad….and as much as I want to understand why this post can’t be taken down, I can’t.

  • http://blueroof.wordpress.com Greg Tracy

    Sure, this all goes down while I’m out working all day…

    Kris- you know you had this coming… they always go after the fastest gun (or in your case, wit).

  • http://www.LiveInLosGatos.com Mary Pope-Handy

    Glenn,

    Go ahead and take this post down. It’s not sneaky. It’s the right thing to do.

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com Jay Thompson

    Removing this post wouldn’t do anything. It’s already in countless feed readers and indexed by Google. That’s just one of the reasons people need to be careful about what they say on the Internet.

    I think Glenn’s apology in the comments, as well as the reference to the corporate blog post added to the top of this post were well done and make Redfin’s position crystal clear.

    Removing a post with this many comments and trackbacks and comments on other blogs would give the perception that Redfin is trying to brush off and/or ignore the problem. By leaving it intact and addressing the issue up front, they are far more likely for people now and in the future to understand.

    Removing a post doesn’t remove the problem. Addressing it for all to see is the way to do it. In my humble opinion.

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  • http://mioaklandcounty.com Maureen Francis

    This post will likely end up being referred to by real estate blogging coaches and trainers as they reinforce what not to do on a real estate blog.

  • http://LiveLakeForest.com Vicki Lloyd

    Glenn – You have taken the high road with your swift handling of an ugly situation, and I respect you for that.

  • shocked

    OK: it’s obvious all these comments are from “real estate pro’s”. What are you guys doing reading Redfin blogs anyway? I thought they were the “enemy”? Well, I as a “regular person” have to chime in because I always enjoyed Carol’s blogs. She is intellegent, insightful and witty. I can’t believe you would can her after one off-color post. Weak.

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  • shocked

    …and before all the finger-pointers jump on it, I do realize the irony in the fact that I spelled intelligent wrong.

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  • http://www.tomsonburnham.com Melina Tomson

    Shocked,
    I think calling someone Barbie and Ken and degrading their efforts at a food drive are a little beyond off color. Disagreements are really important for change and growth, but this blog just steps so far over the boundary of professional disagreement that Kelman just doesn’t have a lot of choice.

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  • http://www.rsspieces.com Mary McKnight

    Hats off to Glen for taking the appropriate action in this. You have my complete respect for doing the right thing here. This post was completely unwarranted. “Ken and Barbie” are consummate professionals with ethics and high level real estate skill and it is clear their business has flourished because of it.

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  • http://www.hemetepro.com Christopher Walker

    There is a reason why true professionals refer to “the real estate community” in posts, comments and conversation. We are not Redfin. We are not a franchise. We are individuals that must work together if we are to serve our clients and our community.

    Aut viam inveniam aut faciam

  • Jane

    Glenn, I laugh at your claim of ethics for not taking down this mess. I assume you must be speaking of “ethical publicity”, as Redfin does take down comments that aren’t flattering! Several of my comments have been pulled.

    Jay Burnham said:
    …you stated, “In all fairness, hunger makes people behave badly.”
    I would like to know what your excuse is…

    ….. Her excuse is alcohol abuse! Maybe that should be on the employment questionnaire, do you consume more than 2 bottles of wine in the course of an evening? Oh regularly?

    Bahn said:
    …about Ms. Hian and her relationship with Redfin: our bloggers are contractors… They are ???school teachers, journalists, real estate hobbyists??? and so on… not representative of the way we feel about Kris Berg or anyone else…

    …Really, so your model is what? Pick the low fruit and let the tree die? Funny I would have thought everyone, with a spine, had learned a lesson about turning your back on an associate. It is clear that Hian is an idiot, but YOU (Redfin) hired Hian and at some point she must have represented you position!

  • Jane

    Carol, this is and excerpt from your recent post on the Redfin O.C. blog: “I really liked the post by Luis Rodriguez titled ‘What is with the Blog Wars’ in which he takes an honest look at bloggers attacking each other and the effect it has on readership/appeal. I totally agree. While calling out the egregious failing of others is one thing, a constant barrage of mudslinging across blogs gets old really fast and makes for a tiresome time.” What happened?

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