Google : End Of The Online Advertising Bubble


 The online advertising market is saturated, and has no more room to grow. The traditional space for ads is overcrowded, and has started to shrink, as Internet users start to use ad blockers.
 Ad placement companies have compensated by displaying ads on ever lower quality websites. Worse, they have led their clients into pay-per-display advertising instead of pay-per-click, much less efficient and difficult to track.
 As a result, online advertising efficiency has been decreasing for years, and companies have to spend more ad dollars for the same result.

What Happens When Your Tech Predictions Tank

Adrienne LaFrance:

In the 1980s, Erik Sandberg-Diment was a household name in Silicon Valley.
 He had what was at the time a radical gig at The New York Times, or any other mainstream publication for that matter. He was a software and technology columnist, and wrote weekly reviews and reflections about the burgeoning personal computing industry. It was an era when terms like “pixels,” “megabytes,” and “floppy disks” earned painstaking explanations, and printers came with sound shields because they were so noisy.

Can Google and Apple Pull the Plug on the PC Market?

Paul Thurrott:

Folks, this is a potential extinction moment, with Android and iOS playing the role of the asteroid that is hurtling to earth to kill off the Windows dinosaurs. And if you think PCs are a small part of personal computing today, it’s only going to get worse a few years down the road as an entire generation of Google-services-using, Apple-hardware-wielding youngsters streams into the workforce expecting to use the tools they’re familiar with. Our children are not growing up on Microsoft technologies. To them, Microsoft is as relevant as Sears, AOL or IBM.

More from Steven Sinofsky.

Inevitability in technology

Benedict Evans:

Indeed, the dynamics were against Facebook, since the shift to mobile brought new dynamics to social that removed the winner-takes-all effect that it enjoyed on the desktop (push notifications, the shared address book and photo library, and the home-screen icon model all make it much easier to use more than one network on mobile than on the desktop). Facebook didn’t have inevitability on its side.

More from Sinofsky.

America’s great housing divide: Are you a winner or loser?

Ted Mellnik, Darla Cameron, Denise Lu, Emily Badger and Kat Downs:

The Post analysis, based on data from Black Knight Financial Services spanning 2004 through 2015, shows how the nation’s housing recovery has exacerbated inequality, leaving behind many Americans of moderate means. It also helps explain why the economic recovery feels incomplete, especially in neighborhoods where the value of housing — often the biggest family asset — has recovered little, if at all.

While a typical single-family home has gained less than 14 percent in value since 2004, homes in the most expensive neighborhoods have gained 21 percent. Regional factors such as the Western energy boom explain some differences, but in many cities the housing market’s arc has deepened disparities between the rich and everyone else, such as in Boston, where gentrifying urban neighborhoods have thrived and far-flung suburbs have fallen behind.

Also striking is how minority neighborhoods lag in the recovery. Zip codes where blacks are the largest population group are more than twice as likely as white Zip codes to have homes now worth less than in 2004.

10 Things That Abruptly Happen When Real Leadership Shows Up

Benjamin Hardy:

“There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.”―Jocko Willink
 What does the environment around you look like?
 Is it obvious to you and everyone else what you stand for?
 Is your benchmark for success clear and understood by all?
 Do you, as the leader, clearly reflect your vision and standards to such a degree that reading them is unnecessary?
 Are you consistent in good times and bad times?
 Are you a master of the basics and technical stuff, or have you lost touch?
 When you experience failure, do you confront

“As makers, being early is essential, otherwise you are late.”

Steven Sinofsky:

The biggest change that will happen is not with the tablet platform or apps. That change has happened. What needs to happen is the cultural change that will permit the technology change to happen.
 In old business culture you communicated with your boss or team through in person meetings or printed memos stuffed in an interoffice mailbox. Email was invented 45 years ago but it didn’t become part of mainstream corporate culture until the late 1990’s or early 2000’s. The tool change was one thing but what really changed was how people worked and the expectations of communication. While it took decades, once the change started happening it became normal for someone 5 levels down to send mail to their boss or to fire off an incomplete thought/idea, or to send rough drafts of documents to many people. What were seen as limitations or defects became the positives of the technology shift. It is hard to overstate what a huge change that was at the time.
 The shift to this new form factor and new platform will bring with it cultural changes that take advantage of what are perceived as disadvantages.

How Hyperconnected Cities Are Taking Over the World, According to Parag Khanna

Tanva Misra:

In the medieval period, empires battled and colluded with each other in the quest for land. The resulting system, in which nations became the main actors on the global stage, is perhaps the one most of us know best. But it’s changing.
 We’re now moving toward a new era where insular, political boundaries are no longer as relevant. More and more people are identifying as “global citizens,” and that’s because we’re all more connected than we’ve ever been before. As a result, a “systems change” is taking place in the world today in which cities—not nations—are the key global players, argues Parag Khanna in his new book, Connectography: Mapping the Future of the Global Civilization. In it, Khanna, who is a global strategist and world traveler, writes:

Google Tests Feature That Lets Media Companies, Marketers Publish Directly to Search Results

Jack Marshall:

Google is experimenting with a new feature that allows marketers, media companies, politicians and other organizations publish content directly to Google and have it appear instantly in search results.
 The search giant said it began testing the feature in January and has since opened it up to a range of small businesses, media companies and political candidates.
 Fox News has worked with Google to post content related to political debates, for example, while published posts related to the Oscars in February. Earlier this week, HBO published “news” articles related to fictitious characters in its popular show “Silicon Valley” to promote the season 3 premiere.

The 30-year fixed mortgage should disappear

Edward Pinto

The 30-year fixed rate mortgage should be retired — for good. Despite continued proof that it fails to build up wealth for the most disadvantaged Americans, and that mortgage debt should not be a burden as homeowners approach their 50s and 60s, misguided advocates maintain that the 30-year fixed rate mortgage should be at the core of the U.S. housing finance system. The latest proposal by five respected economists including Gene Sperling and Mark Zandi aims to reformulate taxpayer backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in an effort to keep the 30-year fixed mortgage alive.

The state of digital advertising

Mitch Joel:

true state of digital advertising.
 If you’re wondering just how healthy the state of digital advertising is, the Interactive Advertising Bureau released their 2015 Internet Advertising Revenue report today, and the numbers are impressive. U.S. digital advertising revenue hit $60 billion last year. As expected, mobile was a beast, growing 66%, from $13 billion in 2014 to $21 billion in 2015. So, as people complain about the size and quality of digital advertising, the market just continues to soar.
 Who’s getting what out of this $60 billion?
 When it comes to the mobile revenue total ($11 billion), the vast amount of the spend comes from display-related mobile formats such as video, according to this IAB report (meaning: not search). Still, with all of this money spent, mobile mostly gets its spend from other media, digital media and through experimental budgets, if you dig into the report (meaning: it’s not mainstream and being allocated the same way that media agencies work with TV, print, etc…).

PC Sentiment

Creative Strategies:

In several studies, we probe the “need” question around PCs. The bottom line is, the vast majority of PC-owning consumers are happy with what they have, regardless if its one or seven years old. I’ll also highlight the intent question on buying a tablet or 2-in-1 PC as a replacement for their current PC. Tablets viewed as replacements or products positioned as a tablet that can replace your PC are currently resonating with consumers.

“Smartphones provide advertisers and marketers with the opportunity to reach consumers with information throughout the day.”


“Smartphone penetration is nearly as high as TV set and radio ownership, and consumers carry their phones everywhere. High penetration plus portability and customized functionality have made them a staple of consumers’ media diet,” said Glenn Enoch, SVP of Audience Insights at Nielsen. “Smartphones provide advertisers and marketers with the opportunity to reach consumers with information throughout the day.”

Singapore Is Taking the ‘Smart City’ to a Whole New Level


This wealthy financial center is known world-wide for its tidy streets and tight controls on personal behavior, including famous restrictions on the sale of chewing gum to keep the city clean.
 Now Singapore may soon be known for something else: the most extensive effort to collect data on daily living ever attempted in a city.
 As part of its Smart Nation program, launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in late 2014, Singapore is deploying an undetermined number of sensors and cameras across the island city-state that will allow the government to monitor everything from the cleanliness of public spaces to the density of crowds and the precise movement of every locally registered vehicle.

A new report signals disaster for American shopping malls

Hayley Peterson:

Shopping malls are losing some of their most valuable tenants — department stores — at an alarming rate.
 Retailers like Sears, JCPenney, and Macy’s have been closing hundreds of locations over the last several years, leaving dead or dying shopping malls in their wake as they try to remain profitable amid the growing threat of e-commerce.
 But these closures are just the tip of the iceberg, according to a new report from real-estate research firm Green Street Advisors.

Property sellers warned not to email solicitors: ‘We lost £204,000’

Amelia Murray:

The ruse is dubbed “Friday afternoon fraud” because criminals typically target transactions being processed ahead of the weekend or bank holidays. This limits the chance of detection.
 Telegraph Money disclosed the first cases of this fraud 12 months ago in May 2015.
 Since then, the legal community has done little to protect homebuyers and sellers. Fresh cases continue to emerge, with this newspaper being aware of at least three six-figure losses arising since February

How is Google’s mobile revenue rising if 50% of people do zero searches per day?

Charles Arthur:

At this point one has to raise a hand. First, Google wouldn’t have made that change if it meant fewer clicks on ads. But how – how? – can having more ads piled on top of the organic results be an “improved user experience”? If the ads are better for the user than the organic results, then why have organic results at all? (Nowak seems to be hinting at this too. All ads would mean Google would absolutely coin it.) If the change means you have to scroll further to get to unpaid results, how is that better? I really don’t get it.
 So what are we left with?
 • Google stolidly refuses to tell us what’s happening with trends in search on mobile
 • there are more ads above the results on both mobile and desktop than a year ago
 • Google is getting more revenue, in total from adverts on both mobile and desktop
 • Google insists that the addition of adverts above the results on the desktop results in an “improved user experience”
 • happily, this improved user experience also results in improved revenues for Google.

Google’s Chrome “Apps”

Cade Metz:

The Weather Company offers a smartphone app, like any other sane company that harbors aspirations on the Internet. But it has seen more and more people visit its mobile website in recent years. According to Sheri Bachstein, the Weather Company’s vice president of web, about fifty percent of its web traffic now arrives on mobile phones and tablets (as opposed to the desktop). Yes, more people use the company’s various apps, but increasingly, the mobile web is a vital way of reaching its worldwide audience—not to mention maintaining and expanding that audience.

Average web page is now 2.2MB


2015 was clearly a crisis year for the web. Multiple events raised awareness of just how bad performance had gotten: ad blockers arrived on iOS; Facebook and then Google announced schemes to help make the web faster; web page bloat even made the pages of the New York Times. Vox Media (the company behind The Verge) declared performance bankruptcy.
 While ads are still the web’s pantomime villain the reality is that we haven’t been paying enough attention to performance. As the web went through its awkward teenage years we let creeping featuritus take hold and eventually clutter simply got the better of us. New JavaScript gallery module? Sure, why not? Oooh that new web font would look nice here but why not add a another analytics tool while we’re in there? Should I bother resizing this 6,000 pixel image? Nah, let the browser do it, works for me.

“They’ve looked at the decline of the PC market and clearly decided that they are going to put most of their effort elsewhere,”

Don Clark:

Sales of PCs, meanwhile, have been mainly declining since Apple’s iPad emerged in 2010. The market recently seemed to plateau, but sales again dropped in the first quarter, falling nearly 10%, Gartner Inc. estimated.
 The continuing decline has forced Intel to focus on growth areas such as computers for data centers and noncomputer devices outfitted with data processing and communications capabilities, known as the Internet of Things.

“20% of US households rely exclusively on mobile at home vs.10% just two years ago”


Via Rich Greenfield:

Surprising stats: 20% of US households rely exclusively on mobile at home vs.10% just two years ago cc: @WaltBTIG…


Amazon SEO Insights – What makes a product rank well? | Ripen


This section explores key observations uncovered as part of our study. Using the following information as a guide, SEO professionals should be able to familiarize themselves with Amazon’s search engine, including what factors influence search results and how product rankings work on the site.
 Use these links to skip ahead to a specific set of ranking factors:

85% of every $1.00 in Internet advertising goes to Facebook or Google

John Herrman:

This month, Mashable, a site that had just raised $15 million, laid off 30 people. Salon, a web publishing pioneer, announced a new round of budget cuts and layoffs. And BuzzFeed, which has been held up as a success story, was forced to bat back questions about its revenue — but not before founders at other start-up media companies received calls from anxious investors.
 “It is a very dangerous time,” said Om Malik, an investor at True Ventures whose tech news site, Gigaom, collapsed suddenly in 2015, portending the flurry of contractions.

The Supermarket Must Die. App-Fueled Services Can Kill It

Courtney Balestier:

Thanks to the smartphone-addicted consumer, GPS, apps, and the Internet, a new breed of startup is building systems that make it easier for producers to know just how much to produce, for shoppers to order just what they want, and for food to get from one to the other faster and with fewer stops in between. They range from offerings like Instacart, which gets us partway there by providing a digital portal into existing stores, to more advanced services, like Farmigo, that show the potential to eliminate physical stores entirely. All emphasize convenience. Many promote transparency, responsible practices, and shorter supply chains. The upsides: ­higher-quality food, easier-than-pie delivery, a wider range of growers, and reduced waste and carbon emissions. The downsides: For now it tends to be expensive, and the market will need to grow before these services can break out of elite cities. But the future they promise—the end of the strip mall monolith and better and smarter food, to boot—is hard to resist.

“Because Facebook feeds on personal sharing the way a vampire feeds on blood…”

Nicholas Carr:

Because Facebook feeds on personal sharing the way a vampire feeds on blood — the more intimate the information you publish, the more Facebook knows about you, and the more precisely it can tailor ads and other messages — any decline in personal sharing is ominous for the company. It’s no surprise that Facebook is now trying to figure out some interface tweaks and tricks that will, as a company spokesperson puts it, “make sharing on Facebook more fun and dynamic.” It’s hard not to hear a hint of desperation in that statement.

Facebook employees, according to a Bloomberg story, refer to the curtailment of personal sharing as “context collapse.” But that’s completely wrong. Context collapse is a sociological term of art that describes the way social media tend to erase the boundaries that once defined people’s social lives. Before social media came along, your social life played out in different and largely separate spheres. You had your friends in one sphere, your family members in another sphere, your coworkers in still another sphere, and so on. The spheres overlapped, but they remained distinct. The self you presented to your family was not the same self you presented to your friends, and the self you presented to your friends was not the one you presented to the people you worked with or went to school with. With a social network like Facebook, all these spheres merge into a single sphere. Everybody sees what you’re doing. Context collapses.

Why younger people can’t buy a house: money became too cheap

Dominic Frisby:

House prices have risen by 10% in the last year, the Halifax announced last week. Whoopeedoo. What that means is that the intergenerational wealth divide just rose by another 10% – and anyone born after 1985 is going to find it 10% harder to ever buy a home.
 There is perhaps no greater manifestation of the wealth gap in this country than who owns a house and who doesn’t, and yet it’s so unnecessary. Ignoring land prices for the moment, houses do not cost a lot of money to build – a quick search online shows you can buy the materials for a three-bed timber-framed house for less than £30,000; in China a 3D printer can build a basic home for less than £3,000 – and the building cost of the houses we already have has long since been paid. How can it be that, in the liberal, peaceful, educated society that is 21st-century Britain, a generation is priced out? These are not times of war, nor are they, for the most part, periods of national emergency, so why should one couple be able to settle down and start a family and another not, by virtue of the fact that one was born 15 years earlier than the other?

5 Trick Questions Every Email Marketer Should Answer


What is the most important measure of an email campaign’s success?
 An average tactical Email Marketer may refer to KPIs like open rate, CTR, and conversion rate. An average strategic Email Marketer will tie it back in to the company’s profit goal and talk about ROI. Professional Email Marketers, who truly understand email marketing best practices, will explain that each email campaign’s success is measured differently – it will depend on the goal of the campaign. While some campaigns are for sales and should be measured by revenue generated, others are purely for engagement and can be measured by clicks, and others still are for list hygiene and need different KPIs altogether. The important element to understand is that each campaign should have a goal and its success should be measured by its attainment of that goal.

How secret offshore money helps fuel Miami’s luxury real-estate boom

Nicholas Nehamas:

In public records, Isaias 21 listed its headquarters as a Miami Beach law office and its manager as Mateus 5 International Holding, an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands, where company owners don’t have to reveal their names.

There the trail ran cold.

Until now.

That’s because the Miami Herald, in association with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, has obtained a massive trove of confidential files from inside a secretive Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca. The leak has been dubbed the “Panama Papers.”

Mossack Fonseca specializes in creating offshore shell companies for the world’s richest and most powerful people.

The firm’s leaked records offer a glimpse into the tightly guarded world of high-end South Florida real estate and the global economic forces reshaping Miami’s skyline.

And MF’s activities bolster an argument analysts and law-enforcement officials have long made: Money from people linked to wrongdoing abroad is helping to power the gleaming condo towers rising on South Florida’s waterfront and pushing home prices far beyond what most locals can afford.

The leak comes as the U.S. government unleashes an unprecedented crackdown on money laundering in Miami’s luxury real-estate market.

Time spent on selected platforms by digital population in the United States as of December 2015 (in billion minutes)


This statistic illustrates the time spent on selected platforms by digital population in the United States. In December 2015, the U.S. digital population spent 787.54 billion minutes using their smartphones, representing a 78 percent growth compared to December 2013.

Comscore (PDF)

By Year’s End, Nearly Twice as Many Online Minutes Were Spent on a Mobile Device as on a Computer

A rather impressive iPhone video: RUN and RUN / lyrical school

Building a website that works for both the user and the business

Robin Raven:

Finally, the website has to tell the world about our company. We have a huge website with a high SEO ranking, so if you want to work at The Economist, find our offices or learn about another company in the The Economist Group it’s likely you will find yourself on at some point. In the new site we’ve tried hard to simplify the navigation to make this as clear as possible — although it’s still a challenge! Here’s a sneak peak of that new section:

For Generation Z, Email Has Become a Rite of Passage

Christopher Mims:

Your personal hierarchy of life-altering firsts likely includes your first kiss, your first time behind the wheel or the first time you left home. For members of Generation Z, now in their teens or early 20s, another rite of passage has taken on outsize importance: sending your first email.
 “I’m more of an adult now that I send email,” says Sumanth Neerumalla, a junior at the University of Maryland. He says becoming a person who sends emails felt like a bigger rite of passage than registering to vote.
 You might think a generation as tech-savvy as this one, which can hardly remember a time before smartphones, Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram, would have embraced email in its infancy.

Where are Your Files?

A recruiting opportunity:

Facebook Wants You to Post More About Yourself

Sarah Frier:

Staff said to call lack of intimate sharing `context collapse’
 Facebook tries prompting more personal types of posting
 Facebook Inc. is working to combat a decline in people sharing original, personal content, the fuel that helps power the money machine at the heart of its social network, according to people familiar with the matter.
 Overall sharing has remained “strong,” according to Facebook. However, people have been less willing to post updates about their lives as their lists of friends grow, the people said.

Inaction or Action

Steve Murray, in conversation with Brad Inman, responded to a broker technology question as follows:

If there’s a reason for selling that has to do with fear, it is more in two or three areas.

One, the business is getting more complex. Zillow, Trulia,, the abundance of new technology firms, SmartZip, BoomTown, technologies coming at the industry nonstop. It’s not that so much they fear them, it’s that they really haven’t been able to understand or get firm about what will be the end pack three, five, ten years from now.

That’s a little bit of it — and probably a bigger part is downward pressure on gross margins, the amount of money a broker has left after the agents are paid, splits. You have to pay more and higher splits to the agents.

Can brokers improve their business margins with technology?

The answer is yes, but the path is not easy.

We’ve seen this work:

  1. Strong brokerage leadership with a vision for the business.
  2. Hire and keep great people to make it happen.
  3. Work with a technology vendor that:
    • Is committed to your market.
    • Offers a single entry platform from leads to closings.
    • Spends capital product rather than marketing.
    • Stays ahead of the tech game.
    • Has an interest in real estate.

Details? Call 1 608 468 6013 or email

A bit of additional reading:

1. “Today, the costs of inac tion almost always exceed the costs of action.” and “Instead, technology should be a means to strategically potent ends” – MIT & Deloitte Digital.

2. Recruiting in 2016.

3. GE’s long bet.

4. Choose wisely: Facebook “Amazed” By Crap They’ve Been Selling.

5. Domino’s applies technology everywhere in a low margin business: “We’re a technology company that sells pizza”.

6. Zillow math.

The Fannie and Freddie fiasco

Richard Epstein:

On April 15, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will hear a high stakes appeal from the hedge funds Perry Capital and Fairholme Capital related to the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. At issue in the case is the legality of an amendment made by the government in August 2012 to the original 2008 bailout. That Third Amendment, as it’s called, has caused a major violation of shareholder rights. (Full disclosure: I have worked as an advisor for a number institutional investors involved in this case and have also written a comprehensive account of all aspects of this complex litigation.)
 To recap the history, both Fannie and Freddie—which are government sponsored entities, or GSEs—were under extreme stress in the fall of 2008, and in order to shore up their finances, they entered into a Senior Preferred Stock Purchase Agreement (SPSPA) with the United States Treasury. Under the SPSPA, Treasury agreed to contribute up to a combined $200 billion in cash to both companies in exchange for a senior-preferred stock that carried a 10 percent dividend. Eventually, Treasury lent about $188 billion per year, which carried a hefty $18.8 billion annual dividend payout. Under the SPSPA, both Fannie and Freddie were given the unlimited option to defer payment of the interest, which was then added to principal as an “in-kind” obligation, at a 12 percent interest rate. Unlike many private corporate bailout plans, this deferment did not call for any loss of control by Fannie and Freddie. Treasury thus held a new senior-preferred stock. The old private-preferred shareholders now held junior-preferred stock.

Explore the Virtual Properties’ AVM

Unlike others, this AVM is configurable and supports your brand only. Many others display third party brands….

The elegant report is an excellent lead generation service. Learn more:

Welcome to the Future: Middle-Class Housing Projects

new yorker:

 I spent the nineties growing up in San Francisco, which, like many cities in that decade, churned with swirls of startling change. Boulevards were beautified (although a shaggy indie scene managed to thrive on side streets). Coffee changed from canteen sludge to crisp black java, and still cost less than a sandwich. New museums opened. Trendy people pursued “desktop publishing” in warehouses long left to rot. Urban life means riding a pendulum between extremes: a city is always en route to being either a gritty nightmare or a bourgeois snooze. But, for a year or two late in the decade, San Francisco seemed to feel like many things to many people. Starter homes turned into desired properties. Middle-class homeowners unexpectedly woke up house-rich. For those lucky enough to avoid the era’s darker spectres—AIDS, an early wave of rental evictions—the nineties often brought the winning ticket in a lottery they hadn’t meant to enter.
 Today the winnings have been paid out, and the landscape of local concern has changed. In this magazine, I’ve written about the housing and inequality challenges facing the Bay Area and the nineties nostalgia haunting much of San Francisco’s current growth. The city’s long-held notion of itself as a home to the progressive middle is harder and harder to sustain. As in many quarters (think of Brooklyn), living on a normal salary—the type available outside tech or some similarly well-heeled industry—is getting hard. The quandary became flagrant last week: news circulated that the Palo Alto City Council had moved to explore subsidized housing for families earning between a hundred and fifty thousand and two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year.

“Today, the costs of inac­tion almost always exceed the costs of action.”

“Instead, technology should be a means to strategically potent ends”

Gerald C. Kane, Doug Palmer, Anh Nguyen Phillips, David Kiron and Natasha Buckley

Our research found that early stage companies are falling into the trap of focusing on technology over strategy. Digital strategies at early stage entities have a decidedly operational focus. Approximately 80% of respondents from these companies say improving efficiency and customer experiences are objectives of their digital strategies. Only 52% say that transforming the business is on the digital docket.

In maturing companies, on the other hand, digital technologies are more clearly being used to achieve strategic ends. Nearly 90% of respondents say that business transformation is a directive of their digital strategies. The importance that these organizations place on using digital technology to improve in novation and decision making also reflects a broad scope beyond the technologies themselves. In com panies with low digital maturity, approximately 60% of respondents say that improving innovation and decision making are digital strategy objectives. In digitally maturing organizations, nearly 90% of strategies focus on improving decisions and innovation. (See Figure 4.)


The ability to adapt quickly to change also stands out as an important capability. Perry Hewitt, chief digital officer at Harvard University, says agility is more important than technology skills. Emory professor Konsynski concurs: “The 21st century is about agility, adjustment, adaptation and creating new opportunities.”


Several interviewees went so far as to say that technology skills aren’t nearly as important as they once were. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Cen ter’s Halamka points out that when he was a CIO in 1997, he wrote code. Now the emphasis of his job is knowing the business, creating strategy and influencing the organization.

Why Google needs an iOS Keyboard: Desktop Search is Dying

Charles Arthur:

An iPhone, a keyboard: can Google replace Apple’s? Casey Newton’s scoop at The Verge, revealing Google is developing a third-party keyboard for iOS, is one of those revelations which doesn’t surprise, it just slots in…

Email is dying among mobile’s youngest users

Sarah Perez:

 Meanwhile, the reverse could be said of the youngest demographic. In 2015, those aged 13 to 24 are far more likely to use messaging apps over email on their devices. In fact, the disparity in the usage patterns of the two services is fairly dramatic. (See chart above, left.) Messaging app usage doesn’t just top email, it blows it away.
 With the shift to a mobile-first culture – and as the younger users become the adults – the importance of messaging apps will only increase. That’s why a number of today’s top companies have already been doubling down on their own efforts to establish themselves as a leader in this space. Facebook, for instance, has been working to make its Messenger and WhatsApp products more than just an alternative to texting by integrating business-to-consumer communications, e-commerce and product discovery, as well as virtual assistance through an experimental part-human/part-bot called “M.”

Why are so many Real Estate Brokers Exiting The Business?

Brad Inman interviews Steve Murray!

Key Takeaways

Valuations for brokerages are as high as they have ever been.

Standard valuations today are five to six times trailing EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization). NRT, Realogy and HomeServices are very active acquiring brokerages. Regional franchisors, like Howard Hanna, are also doing deals on the buy side.

There are two buckets of sellers: older broker-owners and younger companies who need capital to “go to the next level.”

The brokerage business is getting more complex, with new technology that creates uncertainty.

Brokers are feeling downward pressure on margins, higher splits to agents and regulators like CFPB over marketing services agreements.

Teams that act like businesses are creating asset values that may be saleable in the future.

Related: Recruiting in 2016 and “Ubering Your Brokerage’s Value Equation“.

Email is dying among mobile’s youngest users

Sarah Perez:

In case there was any doubt that messaging apps were the future of communication in the mobile-first era, a new study released this morning puts some solid numbers behind their traction – and their increasing dominance over email, among today’s youngest users. According to a report from App Annie, email is effectively dying among this crowd. Those aged 13 to 24 now spend more than 3.5 times overall usage time in messaging apps than those over 45 years old, while the older users still default to apps that replicate desktop functions, like email and web browsers.
 The data for these findings comes from a large sample of real-world users, notes App Annie, combined with the company’s own proprietary data sets. However, it only focuses on Android smartphone users, which in the U.S., doesn’t present a holistic overview of the market. Adding iOS data could change these numbers somewhat, though it’s likely that the larger trends would remain.
 For those who did not grow up with a smartphone in hand, there’s a propensity to use the device like a smaller personal computer, it seems. Those aged 45 or older spent a higher share of their time in the top 5 mobile web browsers on their phone than any other age group, for example. Plus, they spent more time in the top 5 email apps for Android and less time in the top 5 messaging apps.

Recruiting in 2016

Ideal for recruiting and retention, our latest public and agent apps make it simple for your managers to recruit.

So simple.

Your value equation in one tap.

a. Recruiting Script 1: My Agent (34 Seconds)

b. Recruiting Script 2: Fly (97 seconds)

c. Recruiting Script 3: Compare with your competition: 1998 website, an “un app” (27 Seconds)

d. Recruiting Script 4: Speed & Stats (50 Seconds)


I wrote “Ubering” Your Brokerage’s Value Equation in late 2014 [1].

We, at Virtual Properties have continued to invest heavily in fast cloud and app systems, from leads to closings. Working together, we can provide the best services to your agents and clients.

What has happened in the past 16 months?

Nationstar Mortgage launched Xome, their “over the top” public and agent app service [2].

Zillow launched their first agent app release [3].

The Real app launched, allowing “agents to ditch the conventional brokerage model”[4].

All are designed to provide over the top services to agents and clients. All are designed to negate the broker.

There are more on the way. “Brokerless agents.”

Notes and links:

1. Ubering Your Brokerage’s Value Equation.

2. Nationstar launches xome.

3. Zillow launches an agent app.

4. The Real App wants to be the “uber for real estate”.

The Era Of Incrementalism

Ad contrarian:

best, each of these marketing activities has the ability to influence only a tiny fraction of a brand’s potential user base.
 Here’s an example. I did some math*
 Coca-Cola has almost 100 million Facebook fans. Impressive, right?
 They also sell 1.8 billion servings of Coke a day. Let’s give Coke the huge benefit of the doubt and assume that everyone who ever followed Coke on Facebook is still active. This means that if they reached all their followers on Facebook on any given day they could reach about .05 of their customers.

“Bye Bye Brokers?”

Patrick Sisson:

“It suited me because at this point in my career, I want to be left alone,” she says. “I know the ropes. I don’t see a need for the broker model anymore, since the way people shop for homes is changing so fast.”

According to CEO and founder Tamir Poleg, the Real app and network was built to be an open platform for agents, allowing them to work more independently, and on their own time, while still receiving 24-hour support.

“The model is broken,” says Poleg. “We want to give agents the mobile tech they need to grow their own business and work from anywhere. It’s their business, that’s the idea behind Real.”

Like those in many industries, the real estate workforce is potentially ripe for an Uber-like arrangement due to technological shifts. Working from a central office made sense in the eras of newspapers, printing, and everything being on paper. But when agents are empowered by technology to be more mobile and nimble, and it’s easier than ever to find leads, providing agents with the technological tools to be more self-directed seemed like a good investment opportunity to Poleg, a successful developer in Houston.

Real, which Poleg co-founded with a friend in July 2014, automates many of the functions of a brokerage. The company buys and sources leads from resources such as Zillow and Trulia, and automatically distributes them to agents based on where they work.

Poleg sees scalability in the system because while real estate is a local business, Real has no local overhead, such as office space. He says they can cover the cost of acquiring a new agent in three months. Currently licensed in 12 states including Texas, New York, and Florida, the Real app is used by roughly 250 brokers. But after a recent $6 million funding round, Poleg expects to reach nearly 1,000 agents by the end of the year, while adding additional a handful of additional states.

December, 2014: “Ubering” Your Brokerage’s Value Equation.

Broker Tip 43; Leadership, Change and Sales Training: GE’s Long Bet Case

How do I train agents, staff and managers? Do I train them? Does it matter?

Over the years I’ve heard these words repeatedly. The answer gets to the heart of a brokerage’s value equation. Some seek to provide substantial value; others very little.

It’s been fascinating to watch GE CEO Jeff Immelt’s radical information driven transformation [1, 2].

“GE is in a race to capture customers before the likes of Amazon get better at meeting industrial requirements, and before customers get comfortable about using them,” says Mr Gillett.

From a brokerage perspective, replace Amazon with Zillow, xome, some franchises and aspiring MLS’s.

An executive of a large firm mentioned recently that “people want to do everything on their phones” [3].


21 systems, many of which were designed for the fast fading pc [4], era won’t deliver a worthwhile smartphone experience.

Does it matter, or “where’s the beef”?

Here’s one example, a long time client’s annual contact growth numbers…

Consider the fruits of this vast effort:

  1. Brokers provide many stay connected services, from saved searches, market statistics/trends and core service opportunities to holiday greetings and notifications.
  2. Agent’s learning curve is trivial compared to competitors with 21 (!) systems.
  3. Contact information auto-populates forms from listing and offer agreements to core service opportunities. Make it easy to do more business with your brokerage!
  4. You can move quickly, compared to competitors with 21 (!) systems.
  5. Automation, automation. Client surveys, testimonials, notifications, open houses and reports are practical with one, real time system.
  6. Customer for life programs just work. The information is all in one place, post closing.
  7. Coaching is straightforward when the information is one agent app and cloud system.

But, but, “there’s so much technology available, how do I choose?”

This is a valid and frequently asked question. I think the GE example is powerful, particularly when combined with the real world data presented in the above chart.

Contact Jim Zellmer for a deeper dive: or 1 608 468 6013.

Further reading:

1. General Electric: Post-industrial revolution by Ed Crooks.

2. A decade after taking over, Jeff Immelt’s long bet on the Internet of Really Big Things seems to be paying off: Devin Leonard Rick Clough.

3. Local Facebook Usage Data and Recruiting/Retention.

4. Rumors of the PC’s Death Are Not At All Exaggerated by Tiernan Ray.

How GE Exorcised the Ghost of Jack Welch to Become a 124-Year-Old Startup

Devin Leonard , Rick Clough:

Despite those qualms, he traveled to Fairfield in January 2011 to meet with Immelt. Ruh says he was impressed by Immelt’s vision and his willingness to admit that he didn’t fully know what he was doing. “Basically, Jeff said, ‘Look, we’re on Step 1 of a 50-step process, and I just need you to help me figure out what to do because I can only see out one or two steps,’ ” Ruh says. He took the job, and several weeks later his new boss promised to invest $1 billion in a software operation in San Ramon, Calif.
 GE’s ambitions were greeted with skepticism in the Valley. In 2012, when Immelt promoted the software venture in San Francisco during a company-sponsored event with Marc Andreessen, the star venture capitalist and a friend of Immelt’s warned that it would be difficult for a hardware company like GE to assemble a team of data scientists that could perform the kind of tasks that GE had in mind. “It’s hard to be really good at that,” Andreessen said. “It’s really complicated.” (Bloomberg LP, which owns Bloomberg Businessweek, is an investor in Andreessen Horowitz.)

Facebook “Amazed” By Crap They’ve Been Selling

ad contrarian:

Count on Facebook to hide their irresponsible screwing of their customers behind a curtain of baloney. Here’s what their Head Of Adtech had to say about the “amazing discovery”:
 “We were able to deliver ads to real people with unprecedented accuracy, but came up against many bad ads and fraud…”
 Here’s what that bullshit means in English: We delivered ads to millions of bots and six real people. But the six real people were, like, totally in our target group.
 He then went on to say:
 “This eye-opening experiment left us with a decision: Do we bury quality (which is industry-prevalent), or do we focus solely on building a product in our mission to help marketers deliver and measure true business value? We chose the latter. Value is the better and longer-term view.”
 Translation: We have some new stuff to sell you, so all the miracles we’ve been pushing on you all these years is now worthless crap.

Instagram interaction rates dropped 40% last year, and other bad news

Stewart Rogers:

impressive 2015, full of new developments and new revenue streams. It also courted a little controversy.
 Today, the results of a new study from Quintly reveal Instagram’s current state, how businesses are using it, and what’s happening to both follower growth and interaction rates. Spoiler alert: It isn’t great news.
 Quintly analyzed 10,000 Instagram 
profiles during the full year of 2015, and the resulting data reveals some significant trends. What was the one trend that stood out?

“We’re a technology company that sells pizza.”

Aaron Allen:

One of the best modern examples of tech enabling an epic foodservice company turnaround is that of Domino’s. Sure, some of the recent success stems from advantages of systemization, standardization, scalability and standard operating procedures (SOPs) – the processes, designs and training that enable rapid and profitable growth. Another element is brand recognition and awareness – with over 5,000 units and a series of tremendously successful publicity campaigns, Domino’s had an enviable platform from which to launch its turnaround. With product improvements, a renewed and reinvigorated company culture committed to industry-leading innovations and strong leadership, Domino’s has restored its brand to one that everyone not only recognizes but has started to trust again; consumers and investors alike.Technology was unquestionably at the heart of the Domino’s turnaround. The CEO went so far as to say, and I’m paraphrasing a bit here, ‘We don’t see ourselves as a pizza company. We’re a technology company that sells pizza.’ Domino’s put its money where its mouth is – and the results of this new mantra have grabbed enough market share to help them and a handful of other big chains to absorb an additional 11 percent of segment sales that were previously going to independents.
 Domino’s pushed the limits on brand revitalization and started by acknowledging they had some problems. Between driverless vehicles and drone deliveries (at least one of which sounds like science fiction), the company made a commitment to not just to digital/social/mobile and other tech advances, they sought to instill the commitment to pursuing disruptive innovation into the company culture. It’s clear that the mandate wasn’t just to swing for the fences, but to fly a drone over it with a pizza attached.