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Does Redfin’s high profile hire signal a looming IPO?

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Redfin’s new CMO

Over the years, real estate company, Redfin.com has edged closer and closer to a hybrid between their early days of disruption and the traditional real estate model, with some questioning if their round of hiring last fall paired with a recent alteration of their pricing (which is still discounted compared to most of their competitors, yet less so than in the past) is an indication of the company preparing to go public.

While publicly denying these are signals of the company preparing for an IPO, a recent blog post from Redfin CEO, Glenn Kelman talks about getting a call from a lawyer in reference to companies going public, the lawyer encouraging Kelman to never tamper his mania or worry about becoming a figurehead to appease investors. Kelman reacted by noting, “If you run a successful startup, you will certainly have plenty of people trying to civilize you, with conferences, coaches, books, meetings. When venture capitalists invest millions in a company, they also invest millions in you, which you can take as a compliment, though it’s also a terrible commitment.”

Likening investors’ actions to a house-flipper gutting a house to rebuild it, Kelman notes that “These have been the good changes to the Kelman kitchen. But no one has ever touched the stove or the oven, the source of heat and fire. Sitting in a house constantly undergoing a crazy, half-done renovation, the problem I think the most about is figuring out which parts of myself have to go and which have to stay. And the hardest part of the renovation for many is the part that has to stay.”

To IPO or not to IPO?

It is seen as inevitable that all tech companies that grow to a certain point will file for their IPO, but despite these recent writings of Kelman and a shift in pricing at Redfin, he continues to assert they are not focused on going public.

Even after all of that and denying going public, the company announced today a very high profile executive hire which may or may not signal impending IPO. Redfin has brought on Tom Vogl as their new Chief Marketing Officer, who after earning his MBA from the prestigious Harvard Business School, spent seven years at Conoco as a Strategic Planner, followed by eight years at Dell as a Marketing Director and nearly six years at REI as the Senior Vice President of Marketing.

Kelman said, “And so we interviewed folks for chief marketing officer who had hyped bogus diet pills, doomed websites and dubious financial services, but could never get excited by a hired gun. After every interview, Redfin’s Matt Goyer would shake his head and say, “Doesn’t love Redfin enough.” He reminded me of a Jewish mother-in-law. No one was good enough for his child. But finally Matt and the rest of the team found someone not only good, but absolutely, insanely great. We popped the question, and the rest is history.”

Typically, when a company is making high profile hires to gear up for going public, those hires are seasoned in taking a company public, but Vogl is not known as a hired gun for that purpose, so there is a large chance this is simply a powerful hire for the company, but it could also be Kelman acting untraditionally as he is known to do.

Kelman’s bottom line

Whether you like him or not, Redfin’s leader bucks trends and is enthusiastic about what he does, so it is very hard to read his moves. There may be a forthcoming IPO, or a new chapter in the company’s history, but this particular hire does not offer anyone a crystal ball on the topic.

Kelman’s bottom line is that “at Redfin, what drives you matters. After all, we aren’t just trying to draw attention to a media site. We’re trying to make our case — that real estate can be different, that the Redfin agent you see on our site puts customers, not commissions first — that we’re worth a shot. It’s a great leap of faith for our customers, and, for us, perhaps the greatest marketing challenge on the Internet. If we don’t believe, no one else will.”

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

Business News

Price-predictable subscription to legal help for startups

(BUSINESS) Startups in growth mode need extra help, and legal services is not where successful companies cut corners. Check out this subscription option for your growing company.

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legal help for startups

If you’re running your own business or are planning to start one, legal help is probably low on your list.

Most of us have access to free resources from your local Chamber of Commerce or state website, or may have a “friend” who can help you with the forms and other things.

For a lot of things, a DIY attitude won’t cost you much. You could float your own drywall for example. But when it comes to the law, you must trust an expert. Trying to cut corners on legal expenses can cost you a lot in terms of liability or lead to a few headaches, disputes, and litigations. And even if it didn’t cost money, it will cost you time.

Fortunately, you may not have to pay a lawyer directly, as there are several online solutions, including LegalZoom or LegalShield that can help you with forms, provide advice or help you get your business started. Legal advice could cost you hundreds per hour, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Although online legal services are available, one thing that may be challenging for startups is that it can be difficult to budget for: cost transparency isn’t always available and it may be contingent on demand, time and resources.

Atrium is legal firm specifically designed for startups. This firm was founded by Twitch founder Justin Kan, and Silicon Valley lawyer, Augie Rakow in response to what his needs were as a startup: fast, reliable, and transparent services.

To date, Atrium boasts 890 completed startup deals; $5B raised by companies, and 10 companies started by it’s members. Atrium breaks down its services into four areas:

Atrium Counsel – which provides standard day to day legal processes, including board meetings, NDS, contract/personnel review, etc. – this is available as a subscription service or if you have unique needs, there are special projects available.
Atrium Financing – to help work with venture capital transactions and help explain the deal and it’s process, including upfront price estimates for advice with pitches.
Atrium Contracts – to help with contract review and form generations.
Atrium Blockchain – to help provide legal advice on the many regulatory issues involving blockchain issues.

Atrium’s major competitive advantage is the end of the billable hour paradigm and the focus on subscription models. This is great for a startup in growth mode because you can get a lot of value for a fixed price.

That said, Vitality CEO, Jamie Davidson said, “Just had a call with these folks. You pay a minimum of $1K a month (based on your company size) to be able to ask them questions. You then pay above-market prices for actual legal needs, like privacy policy/TOS generation ($5K), GDPR ($10+K), etc. Our current lawyer does not charge me to ask him questions, but he does charge for actual legal work.”

Others have noted Atrium’s technological advantage and expertise, so mileage could vary.

If you find that community resources aren’t available or not meeting your needs, Atrium could be the service that helps take you to the next level. If you’re considering shopping for legal services, check out Atrium’s site, get to know their team, and see if it’s the right fit for you. The bottom line is that there are a lot of places to cut corners for your growing business, but legal services are not one of them.

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Business News

Killing the 9-to-5 work day can improve workers’ output

(BUSINESS) Doing away with the tradition of working 9 to 5 in a cubicle can work wonders for a team’s productivity – let’s discuss why this isn’t an imaginary dream, but today’s reality.

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startup productivity

As we’ve seen in recent years, many of the old concepts about work have been turned on their heads. Many offices allow a more casual dress as compared to the suit and tie standard, and more and more teams have the option of working remotely.

One of these concepts that’s been in flux for a bit is challenging the norm of 9-to-5 work days. Offices are giving more options of flex hours and remote work, with the understanding that the work must be completed effectively and efficiently with these flexibilities.

Recently, I got sucked into one of those quick-cut Facebook videos about a company that decided to test out the method of a four day work week. This gave employees the option of what day they would like to take off, or, it gave employees the option to work all five days of the week, but with flex hours.

Despite the decrease in hours worked, employees were still paid for a 40-hour work week which continued their incentive to get the same amount of work done in a more flexible manner. With this shift in time use, the results found that employees wasted less time around the office with mindless chit-chat, as they understood there was less time to waste.

The boss in this office had each team explain how they were going to deliver the same level of productivity. The video did not share the explanations, but it could be assumed that the incentive of a day off would encourage employees to continue their level of productivity, if not increase it.

This was done with the goal of worker smarter, rather than harder. Finding ways to manage time better (like finishing up a task before starting another one) help to stay efficient.

During the trial, it was found that productivity, team engagement, and morale all increased, while stress levels decreased. Having time for yourself (an extra day off) and not overworking yourself are important keys to being balanced and engaged.

There is such a stigma about the way you have to operate in order to be successful (e.g. getting up early, using every hour at your disposal, and using free time to meditate).

Let’s get real – we all need a little free time to check back in with ourselves by doing something mindless (like a good old fashioned Game of Thrones binge). If not, we’ll go bonkers.

Flex hours and remote working is not all about having time to do morning yoga and read best-seller after best-seller. Flex hours gives us the time to take our kids to and from school and comfortably wear our parenting caps without fear of getting fired for not showing up to work precisely at 9 AM.

Bucking the 9-to-5 cubicle life can improve the quality of work and even increase quantity of work.Click To Tweet

The 9-to-5 method is becoming dated and I’m glad to see that happen. So many people run themselves ragged within this frame and it’s impossible to find that happy work-life balance. Using flex options can help people manage every aspect of their lives in a positive way.

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What’s DMT and why are techies and entrepreneurs secretly taking the drug?

(BUSINESS) The tech world and entrepreneur world are quietly taking a psychadellic in increasing numbers – they make a compelling case, but it’s not without risks.

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DMT

Move over tortured artists and festival-goers, psychedelics aren’t just for you anymore. An increasing number of professionals in Silicon Valley swear by “microdosing” psychedelic substances such as lysergic acid diethylamide(LSD) in efforts to heighten creativity and drive innovative efforts.

This probably isn’t a shock to anyone following trends in tech and startups, particularly the glorification of the 8-trillion hour workweek (#hustle). But business owners, entrepreneurs, and technologists are also turning to other hallucinogens to awaken higher levels of consciousness in hopes of influencing favorable business results.

Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is growing in popularity as business leaders and creatives flock to Peru or mastermind retreats to ingest the drug. It exists in the human body as well as other animals and plants. In his book DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Dr. Rick Strassman says “this ‘spirit’ molecule provides our consciousness access to the most amazing and unexpected visions, thoughts and feelings. It throws open the door to worlds beyond our imagination.”

The substance is commonly synthesized in a lab and smoked, with short-lived effects (between five to 45 minutes, however, some say it lasts for hours).

Traditionally, however, it is extracted from various Amazonian plant species and snuffed or consumed as a tea (called ayahuasca or yage). The effects of DMT when consumed in this manner can last as long as ten hours. Entrepreneurs are attracted to the “ayahuasca experience” for its touted ability to provide clarity, vision and inventiveness.

Physical effects are said to include an increase in blood pressure and a raised heart rate. Users report gastrointestinal effects when taken orally, commonly referred to as the “purge.” The purging can include vomiting or diarrhea, which makes for interesting conversation at the next company whiteboarding session.

Users are subject to dizziness, difficulty regulating body temperature, and muscular incoordination. Users also risk seizures, respiratory failure, or falling into a coma.

DMT can interfere with medications or foods, a reason why many indigenous tribes that work with it also follow specific dietary guidelines prior to ingestion. Not paying attention to diet or prescription medication prior to consuming ayahuasca or DMT can lead to the opposite of the intended effect, potentially even causing trauma or death.

So why the hell are people putting themselves through this ordeal?

Many claim profound mental effects, often experiencing a transformative occurrence that provides clarity and healing. Auditory and visual hallucinations are common, with reports of geometric shapes and sharp, bold colors. Many report intense out-of-body experiences, an altered sense of time and space or ego dissolution (“ego death”).

Studies have indicated long-term effects in people who use DMT. Some report a reduction in symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Subjects in an observational study showed significant reductions in stress after participating in an ayahuasca ceremony, with effects lasting through the 4-week follow-up period.

Subjects also showed improvements in convergent thinking that were still evident at the 4-week follow up. People who consume DMT generally chronicle improvements in their overall satisfaction of life, and claim they are more mindful and aware after the experience.

It’s important to note that dying from ayahuasca is rarely reported, but that doesn’t rule out the risk. It’s also illegal in the states, explaining why groups flock to Peru to visit licensed ayahuasca retreats or why technologists buy DMT on the dark web to avoid detection.

For those considering a DMT journey (and we don’t recommend it based on the illegal nature and health risks), it’s critical to gain a full understanding of the potential risks prior to consumption.

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