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Opinion Editorials

How does Move win by losing a top realtor.com exec?

(Editorial) Move, Inc. has lost two top executives, and most are calling this a win for their competitors, but perhaps this is their chance to get ahead again.

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errol samuelson

errol samuelson

Errol Samuelson joins the Zillow team

This afternoon, Zillow announced that former president of realtor.com and Chief Strategy Officer at Move, Inc. will be their new Chief Industry Development Officer to direct the company’s relations with the industry. This comes on the heels of Trulia announcing that John Whitney, the VP of ListHub (a Move company) to shore up their listing accuracy.

“I’m excited about joining Zillow because I believe the company is leading the real estate industry in innovation and serving consumer needs. Equally important, I believe the entire management team truly understands the essential role real estate professionals play, is committed to their success, and wants to create deeper, mutually beneficial partnerships with the industry,” said Samuelson. “We’re in the midst of an exciting era in real estate, and I look forward to working with Zillow and the real estate industry to ensure that Zillow is the absolute best partner it can be. My first priority will be to listen, and incorporate the industry’s feedback to evolve Zillow’s technology and partnership programs.”

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“We’re thrilled for Errol to join the Zillow family. We’ve long admired Errol for his leadership as well as his perspective and approach in advocating on behalf of the real estate industry to embrace and leverage evolving technology and times,” said Rascoff. “We place tremendous value on fostering great partnerships and building innovative products that support our industry partners, and Errol is the right person to lead this new role.”

Samuelson served as president of REALTOR.com® since February 2007 and was appointed Chief Strategy Officer of Move, Inc. in April 2013. Real estate trade publication Inman News named Samuelson among the 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders each of the years 2007 through 2013. He joined Move, Inc. in 2003, previously serving as president of Move subsidiary, Top Producer Systems. Prior to Move, he was director of real estate, mortgage banking, and law enforcement verticals at GTE Enterprise Solutions, and previously was director of sales, marketing and product management at MPR Teltech. Samuelson holds a bachelor’s in electronics engineering from Simon Fraser University.

How exactly is this a win for realtor.com?

Losing Samuelson to Zillow and Whitney to Trulia is being praised as wins for realtor.com competitors, but this could actually be a huge win if realtor.com takes advantage of the opportunity to bring in new blood. They’re headquartered in Silicon Valley and could tap into some of the top tech talent in the world. They’ve struggled to innovate, and it is unclear whether that is because of their hands being more tied than their competitors, their strategy, or their customers rejecting innovation (or a combination of all three).

Realtor.com has the chance to revitalize their entire company, and shedding the weight may end up boosting their stock prices, if they don’t take for granted that this is a huge opportunity. Maybe they’ll bring in some top talent from Facebook, Twitter, Square, or even YCombinator. The world is their oyster now that they have this chance to innovate and help bring their constituency into the 21st century to catch up with their internal ideas. Maybe this time, they’ll have someone in that role that can roll out products without offending most of the industry. For the sake of members of the National Association of Realtors, we sure hope so.

UPDATE 1: Move, Inc. has now announced that Curt Beardsley has been promoted to replace Samuelson.

UPDATE 2: Beardsley has followed in Samuelson’s footsteps, leaving days after publication of this story.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and sister news outlet, The Real Daily, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Sam DeBord, SeattleHome.com

    March 5, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    I appreciate that you sugar-coated this massive pill I’m trying to swallow. I hope you’re right. 😉

  2. Awesome news

    March 5, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Good for realtor.com, Sammy was worthless, brought no value or influence from MOVE to the industry. Was lousy at communicating with members what ‘ideas’ he did have ‘sometimes’, and this is the right move for MOVE. Anyone else leaving move? Let us know, I bet you’re dead weight too. Snakes.

    What a joke – “I’m excited about joining Zillow because I believe the company is leading the real estate industry in innovation and serving consumer needs. Equally important, I believe the entire management team truly understands the essential role real estate professionals play, is committed to their success, and wants to create deeper, mutually beneficial partnerships with the industry,” said Samuelson. “We’re in the midst of an exciting era in real estate, and I look forward to working with Zillow and the real estate industry to ensure that Zillow is the absolute best partner it can be. My first priority will be to listen, and incorporate the industry’s feedback to evolve Zillow’s technology and partnership programs.”

    He wouldn’t know a new era if it rose like the sun from his ass. Good luck Zillow.

  3. Tammy Wiggins

    March 6, 2014 at 7:58 am

    I hope this does finally lead to new and exciting changes for Realtor.com. NAR should be leading the way in the technology it offers it’s members and protecting the interests of industry.

  4. Some Person

    March 7, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Good move for Errol. There’s no question about that. What does this mean for Zillow and RealtorDOTcom? Who knows. We do know that Errol was not part of any team at Move and didn’t play well with others there. Is that because he wanted to do things that Move lacked the talent and vision to support or did he lack a real vision to be supported? Again, your guess is as good as mine. And I wouldn’t surprised if this was a mutual separation despite what Mr. Berkowitz’s statement echos. What does this mean for the dysfunctional world at Move, Inc? Probably nothing. Does it matter that your broken down car in the side yard just lost a wheel? Move and RealtorDOTcom came into the game with the upper hand and was much like AT&T in the wireless carrier world only to give it all away and become the Sprint or Blackberry of online real estate. Perhaps it’s time to rent a u-haul and fire sale whats left to a company that knows how to execute before you squander what remains.

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Opinion Editorials

DNA tests are cool, but are they worth it?

(OPINION EDITORIAL) DNA tests are all the rage currently but are they worth potentially having your genetic makeup sold and distributed?

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Over the last few years, DNA testing went mainstream. Companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe have offered easy access to the insights of your genetics, including potential health risks and family heritage, through simple tests.

However, as a famously ageless actor once suggested in a dinosaur movie, don’t focus too much on if you can do this, without asking if you should do this.

When you look closely, you can find several reasons to wonder if sending your DNA to these companies is a wise choice.

These reasons mostly come down to privacy protection, and while most companies do have privacy policies in place, you will find some surprising loopholes in the fine print. For one, most of the big players don’t give you the option to not have your data sold.

These companies, like 23andMe and Ancestry.com, can always sell your data so long as your data is “anonymized,” thanks to the HIPPA Act of 1996. Anonymization involves separating key identifying features about a person from their medical or biological data.

These companies know that loophole well; Ancestry.com, for example, won’t even give customers an opt-out of having their DNA data sold.

Aside from how disconcerting it is that these companies will exploit this loophole for their gain at your expense, it’s also worth noting that standards for anonymizing data don’t work all that well.

In one incident, reportedly, “one MIT scientists was able to ID the people behind five supposedly anonymous genetic samples randomly selected from a public research database. It took him less than a day.”

There’s also the issue of the places where that data goes when it goes out. That report the MIT story comes from noted that 23andMe has sold data to at least 14 outside pharmaceutical firms.

Additionally, Ancestry.com has a formal data-sharing agreement with a biotech firm. That’s not good for you as the consumer, because you may not know how that firm will handle the data.

Some companies give data away to the public databases for free, but as we saw from the earlier example, those can be easy targets if you wanted to reverse engineer the data back to the person.

It would appear the only safe course of action is to have this data destroyed once your results are in. However, according to US federal regulation for laboratory compliance stipulates that US labs hold raw information for a minimum of 10 years before destruction.

Now, consider all that privacy concern in the context of what happens when your DNA data is compromised. For one, this kind of privacy breach is irreversible.

It’s not as simple as resetting all your passwords or freezing your credit.

If hackers don’t get it, the government certainly can; there’s even an instance of authorities successfully obtaining a warrant for DNA evidence from Ancestry.com in a murder trial.

Even if you’re not the criminal type who would worry about such a thing, the precedent is concerning.

Finally, if these companies are already selling data to entities in the biomedical field, how long until medical and life insurance providers get their hands on it?

I’ll be the first to admit that the slippery slope fallacy is strong here, but there are a few troubling patterns of behavior and incorrect assumptions already in play regarding the handling of your DNA evidence.

The best course of action is to take extra precaution.

Read the fine print carefully, especially what’s in between the lines. As less scrupulous companies look to cash in on the trend, be aware of entities who skimp on privacy details; DNA Explained chronicles a lot of questionable experiences with other testing companies.

Above all, really think about what you’re comfortable with before you send in those cheek swabs or tubes of spit. While the commercials make this look fun, it is a serious choice and should be treated like one.

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Opinion Editorials

How to deal with an abusive boss and keep your job, too

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Sometimes bosses can be the absolute worst, but also, you depend on them. Here’s how to deal with an abusive boss and, hopefully, not get fired.

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Nothing can ruin your work life like an abusive boss or supervisor. But when you’re dependent on your boss for assignments, promotions – heck, your paycheck – how can you respond to supervisor abuse in a way that doesn’t jeopardize your job or invite retaliation?

A new study to be published in the next Academy of Management Journal suggests an intriguing approach to responding to an abusive boss. As you might expect, their study shows that avoiding the abuser does little to change the dynamic.

But the study also found that confronting the abuser was equally ineffective.

Instead, the study suggests that workers in an abusive situation “flip the script” on their bosses, “shifting the balance of power.” But how?

The researchers tracked the relationship between “leader-follower dyads” at a real estate agency and a commercial bank. They found that, without any intervention, abuse tended to persist over time.

However, they also discovered two worker-initiated strategies that “can strategically influence supervisors to stop abuse and even motivate them to mend strained relationships.”

The first strategy is to make your boss more dependent on you. For example, one worker in the study found out that his boss wanted to develop a new analytic procedure.

The worker became an expert on the subject and also educated his fellow co-workers. When the boss realized how important the worker was to the new project, the abuse subsided.

In other words, find out what your boss’s goals are, and then make yourself indispensable.

In the second strategy, workers who were being abused formed coalitions with one another, or with other workers that had better relationships with the boss. The study found that “abusive behavior against isolated targets tends to stop once the supervisor realizes it can trigger opposition from an entire coalition.”

Workplace abuse is not cool, and it shouldn’t really be up to the worker to correct it. At times, the company will need to intervene to curb bad supervisor behavior. However, this study does suggest a few strategies that abused workers can use to try to the tip the balance in their favor.

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Opinion Editorials

Avoid the stack, conquer busy work as it comes

(PRODUCTIVITY) It’s easy overwhelmed with emails and a stack of real mail. But tackling as it comes may help to enhance organization and productivity.

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A few weeks ago, I was walking through my office (also known as my bedroom after 5 p.m.) and I noticed a stack of mail that I had tossed aside over the course of the last few months. While they were non-urgent, this collection of paperwork had been opened, read, and left unattended.

Now, this was a classic move of mine – leave a mess for Future Taylor to clean up. So, imagine my surprise when Present Taylor woke up and decided to put an end to “the stack.”

I sat down, went through everything, and took care of what needed to be done. Even though my wallet took a few hits, it felt great to have this cleared up and off my desk.

Right then and there, I made it a rule to let things only cross my desk once (unless there’s some extenuating circumstance in which it requires me to come back to it; i.e. my favorite sentence on this paperwork “This is not a final bill.”) There’s no point in drawing out the stress that “the stack” induce.

This led me to finally attacking something that’s been on my to-do list since I created my Gmail account in 2009 – create an organizational system.

I set aside some time to create folders (for individual projects, people I communicate with frequently, etc.)

While this is all stuff that you may have already implemented, my point is that this increase my productivity and lifted a weight off of my shoulders I didn’t acknowledge was there.

So, I encourage you to find one of those menial tasks that has been on your to-do list forever and tackle it.

This can include, organizing all of your electronic files into folders, updating your phone and email contacts, or going through all of your desk drawers to get rid of unneeded items. Organizing and freshening up your workspace can help increase your focus.

Once you’re organized and in gear, try the “let it cross your desk once” method. When an email comes in, respond to it or file it. When a bill comes in, pay it. You may be surprised at your rise in productivity.

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