AgentMatch pilot over for now
The launch of real estate agent ranking site, AgentMatch by realtor.com stirred controversy with vocal opponents critiquing the way production data was being presented. While only piloting in two cities, the pilot program has been concluded, and with that word being used in headlines, people are assuming it is dead.
AgentMatch is not dead.
Errol Samuelson wrote a letter to the public to explain that the pilot has concluded, but our sources (and Samuelson himself) allude to the fact that they’re simply going back to the drawing board. AgentMatch has not concluded, rather the pause button has been hit so they can get it right.
In the meantime, realtor.com is openly listening to input as to what the way forward is for this product, and while some may feel that it is an empty gesture, we believe it to be genuine. Input can be sent to AgentSearch@realtor.com, and we believe they are still monitoring the hashtag #AgentMatch on Twitter.
We have focused on helping real estate agents and realtor.com to understand the implications of big data and pointing out that even when raw data is presented, it takes a human touch to determine what data points are relevant and how they are presented, thus making the data subjective. This has been a key obstacle for the AgentMatch team and is the true reason they were met with so much resistance.
We have offered our suggestions for how they can make the project work, and it looks nothing like what they’ve already launched. They’re looking for input from all agents so that they can get it right, because the truth is that there are various competitors presenting this data, and Move is in a tough position wherein they will eventually need to innovate in this field so they can remain competitive.
Full letter from realtor.com President Errol Samuelson:
Realtor.com® is the consumer website for the National Association of REALTORS®. Its primary purpose is to connect REALTORS® with consumers in the digital world. This is a mandate we take seriously.
Realtor.com® is also a self-supporting entity operated by a for-profit company that does not utilize any NAR dues. No NAR funds are contributed toward the operation of realtor.com.
Both of these factors require that we innovate, experiment and look into the future in close coordination with the industry we serve.
This past summer we launched a pilot called AgentMatch in that spirit.
As you are aware, our competitors are moving ahead with their solutions regardless of industry involvement. In an age of reviews, ratings, big expectations and small attention spans, we wanted to create a service that would place facts, and the REALTORS® behind them, front and center.
AgentMatch, which we tested in two markets, aimed to do that. During this testing phase we learned that we must resolve several important issues before moving any further ahead.
We have concluded the AgentMatch pilot and are working with Realtors across the country to evolve the program and find a better way to highlight their unique attributes. NAR has been, and will continue to be, a strong advocate for its members in this process.
We learned a few things in this experiment. We learned that using an algorithm to “match” consumers with REALTORS® is misguided. A computer cannot find the best Realtor for someone, just like a computer cannot place an accurate value on a home.
We also learned just how much lies beneath metrics like days on market or list price to sale price ratio. Numbers don’t lie, but they don’t necessarily tell the whole story, either.
This AgentMatch pilot has concluded, but the larger project remains: We intend to create the most accurate and complete resource for consumers looking for a Realtor online, and to continue moving the industry forward with innovative solutions.
Innovation is not easy. It means accepting risk, and the occasional stumble. But it is, in all cases, energy aimed forward.
I look forward to the next steps.
Bay Area co-living startup strands hundreds of renters at dire time
(BUSINESS NEWS) They’re blaming COVID for failing as a co-living space, but it looks like trouble was well established even before now.
Over the last few years, “co-living” startups have become increasingly common in tech-rich cities like San Francisco. These companies lease large houses, then rent individual bedrooms for as much as $2,000 per month in hopes of attracting the young professionals who make up the tech industry. Many offer food, cleaning services, group activities, and hotel-quality accommodations to do so.
But the true value in co-living companies lies in their role as a third party: Smoothing over relations, providing hassle free income to homeowners and improved accountability to tenants… in theory, anyway. The reality has proved the opposite can just as easily be true.
In a September company email, Bay Area co-living startup HubHaus released a statement that claimed they were “unable to pay October rent” on their leased properties. Hubhaus also claimed to have “no funds available to pay any amounts that may be owed landlords, tenants, trade creditors, or contractors.”
This left hundreds of SF Bay Area renters scrambling to arrange shelter with little notice, with the start of a second major COVID-19 outbreak on the horizon.
HubHaus exhibited plenty of red flags leading up to this revelation. Employees complained of insufficient or late payment. The company stopped paying utilities during the spring, and they quietly discontinued cleaning services while tenants continued to pay for them.
Businesses like HubHaus charge prices that could rent a private home in most of the rest of the country, in exchange for a room in a house of 10 or more people. PodShare is a similar example: Another Bay Area-based co-living startup, whose offerings include “$1,200 bunk beds” in a shared, hostel-like environment.
As a former Bay Area resident, it’s hard not to be angry about these stories. But they have been the unfortunate reality since long before the pandemic. Many urbanites across the country cannot afford to opt out of a shared living situation, and these business models only exacerbate the race to the bottom of city living standards.
HubHaus capitalized on this situation and took advantage of their tenants, who were simply looking for an affordable place to live in a market where that’s increasingly hard to find.
They’ve tried to place the blame for their failure on COVID-19 — but all signs seem to indicate that they had it coming.
Las Vegas’ largest dispensary gets massive Infinity Wall expansion
(BUSINESS NEWS) Las Vegas’s largest dispensary is getting a big, expensive makeover, thriving while other brick-and-mortar shops are struggling.
Have you ever heard of an Infinity Wall? If I were you, I’d check it out right now because it’s utterly mesmerizing.
An 80-foot version of this wall is just one of the new features that Planet 13 (or The Company) announced it will be implementing in Las Vegas’ largest dispensary, The SuperStore, this past Monday. In addition to the futuristic entertainment feature (I honestly can’t get over that thing), they will be doubling the sales floor and expanding the dispensary to ~23,000 sq. ft. For reference, the entire Planet 13 SuperStore complex is 112,000 sq.ft.
Why expand an already massive dispensary during a pandemic, when most brick and mortar stores are suffering? Well, according to Larry Scheffler, Co-CEO of Planet 13, The Superstore is actually thriving beyond belief.
“We are achieving record sales even with Las Vegas at ~50% tourist occupancy. As Las Vegas returns to normal and this industry continues to grow, we anticipate that this will be first of many expansions we will undertake to keep up with demand.”
The expansion adds 40 points of sale to uphold the outstanding customer service reputation Planet 13 has. If you do have to wait, you have a state-of-the-art entertainment system to enjoy. It’s win-win for any and all visitors.
The CapEx cost of the expansion between is $1.5 – $2.5 million. The project is expected come to completion by the end of Q1 2021.
Las Vegas has become a sort of cannabis mecca. After all, it’s home to MJBizCon, the industry’s largest networking event attended by thousands from around the world. And the popularity and overall acceptance makes it an easy choice for any cannabis aficionados. The SuperStore, like most things in Las Vegas, is huge, glamorous, and caters to tourists.
I have no doubt that when the city bounces back from the pandemic, this new-and-improved dispensary will be a must-visit destination.
The future of work from home will be a hybrid, says Google CEO
(BUSINESS NEWS) Google is looking to adapt a more flexible, long-term hybrid work model for their employees, which includes partially working from home and partially being on-site.
Google, the world’s largest search engine company (yes I know they do other things), is positing that the corporate office will look completely different post-COVID-19.
In September Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai said that the organization was making changes to its offices that would better support employees in the future. This includes “reconfiguring” office spaces to accommodate “on-sites”, days when employees who regularly work from home will come into the workplace. The move comes after Google was one of the first major tech companies to announce that employees could possibly work from home through next summer.
“I see the future as definitely being more flexible,” Pichai said during a video interview for Time 100, “We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having that sense of community, is super important for whenever you have to solve hard problems, you have to create something new,” he said. “So we don’t see that changing, so we don’t think the future is just 100% remote or something.”
It was reported that Google’s decision to work remotely into mid-2021 was originally in part to help employees whose children might be learning remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Pichai said that several factors went into the decision, stating that improving productivity was a major concern.
“Early on as this started, I realized it was going to be a period of tremendous uncertainty, so we wanted to lean in and give certainty where we could,” Pichai said. “The reason we made the decision to do work from home until mid of next year is we realized people were trying hard to plan… and it was affecting productivity.”
Pichai also mentioned that the decision would help the firm embrace the reality that remote working wasn’t going anywhere once things returned to normal. A recent survey at Google found that 62% of employees felt they only need to be in the office on occasion, while 20% felt they didn’t need to be in the office whatsoever. While the work from home trend had already been growing over the past several years, the pandemic accelerated that movement greatly.
With housing costs surging in the San Francisco area, where Google headquarters resides, many employees have been forced to move outside of the city to afford a mortgage. This caused many to commute long hours into the office, something Pichai realized was a problem.
“It’s always made me wonder, when I see people commuting two hours and away from their families and friends, on a Friday, you realize they can’t have plans,” Pichai said. “So I think we can do better.”
It’s too early to tell whether or not Pichai’s vision of a “hybrid model” will be adopted by other companies when the pandemic ends. One thing is for certain though—work will never be what is pre-COVID-19.
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