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Homespin debuts as home search for right brained people – first look

Homespin launches in Austin with national ambitions, specifically targeting right brained people in the market for a home as it learns buyers’ preferences, giving each user a unique experience and offers Realtors a powerful suite of information on their clients.

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Homespin home search debuts in stagnant industry

Homespin home search has launched in early beta as the visual beacon in a stat-driven industry that they say has ignored the rise of the visual web, and abandoned right brained people. Using the tile-style visual elements that coders began experimenting with years ago and made popular by Pinterest, Homespin visitors are greeted visually with images of all homes within their basic search, and while there is a sophisticated map function, the focus is on narrowing down homes by their visual appeal.

The company calls the experience intuitive, emotive, engaging, and personalized, as with every saved image or hidden image, the engine learns a user’s preference and begins changing their search results accordingly. Oh you keep saving images of vintage bathrooms? That’s what you’ll start seeing as the lead image when you search, instead of the standard driveway shot. You’re hiding (aka rejecting) pictures of galley kitchens? They’ll sink to the bottom of the photo display of any listing. Homespin adds, “consumers are seeing homes in the best light possible, as optimized just for them.” We would add that it not only celebrates the strides the industry has made in photography, but pressures agents to do even better as they visually optimize their marketing of a home.

High-caliber founders frustrated with holes in the market

Co-founders Jude Galligan and Chris Chilek had first hand knowledge of the holes in the market. Galligan is well known in his hometown not only as the Broker of REATX, but his popular “Downtown Austin Blog,” as well as for his involvement at the Downtown Austin Alliance. Chilek is the founder of the groundbreaking Pick-A-Prof ratings site, MyEdu, Advanced Student Marketing, and is most widely recognized for his development chops.

Between the two, a great deal of frustration was witnessed on the part of consumers and real estate professionals alike, particularly independent agents and brokers who were being outspent by bigger brands and consumers that are more focused on the feeling of buying than the nuts and bolts of data points.

Beta user Will Staney said of Homespin, “I loved it! My wife loves it! We are currently shopping for a home right now. I think once they tackle a mobile version, maybe even an app, and add a few capabilities, it will kick Trulia and Zillow’s ass.”

The map was the last big innovation

“The last major innovation in real estate search was the map,” Galligan tells AGBeat. And he’s right. Listing syndication and data accuracy has been a hot button issue and some of the back end technology has evolved, but consumers haven’t seen much change since the introduction of mobile search or the map.

So what exactly is innovative about visual search? Homespin emphasizes that they’re more than a visual search, they’re a trust and data machine. When a buyer logs on with their Facebook credentials, they can select one (yes, one and only one) Realtor that they can connect with, sending their ever changing preferences to, adding the ability to Facebook chat with their agent, demonstrating trust, and if the job goes well, a potential endorsement. But this isn’t your grampy’s ratings site – there’s no score, no five stars, no gaming, just individuals saying “yes, this is my Realtor, and I trust them.”

And guess what? If you’re a consumer and you select your Realtor, not only can they see your activity so they can provide you with more and better information, you’re automatically recommending your awesome agent, as they surface as possible connections to your friends when they log in to Homespin. The idea that agents don’t have to beg consumers for stupid votes is much more organic, and mimics the way the real world works. “More trust, less spam,” the company says.

The power of Homespin for agents

The real power of Homespin is in real estate professionals’ not being forced to spend high dollar for anonymous leads, which some have opined is akin to getting spam leads. Instead, the system cares more about real, existing relationships, adding legitimacy to the endorsement system.

The Realtor Toolbox visually organizes not only an agent’s potential social reach based on the Facebook connections of their own profile and their clients’ but reveals “buyer boards” displaying clients’ activities on the site. The cost during beta is $17 per month for agents to claim the connections an agent has already worked so hard for, and Homespin says they’ll grandfather in the earliest adopters at this rate.

Eight months of testing, testing, testing

Homespin has been quietly building and tweaking their product for eight months and assert that while many real estate search sites are out to be all things to all people, they are acutely aware that they (and all competitors) are just one tool of many that buyers will use during their search.

Galligan said, “we are not arrogant enough to think we are the only tool a buyer will use, we are one of a suite of tools they should use before making a purchase.”

Visual search makes Homespin the strongest contender for the nearly 40 percent of buyers who start shopping over 120 days in advance, as early shoppers are not ready to commit (thus they enjoy looking around and tapping into the emotion of buying), and the race in the industry is to be one of the three sites consumers rely on, as 78 percent of shoppers use at least that many sites in their quest to find the perfect home.

The model, the goals, the future

Their model is that of a virtual office website, so all data is pulled directly from the MLS through broker partners rather than some syndication options which Homespin points out are on a delay. The company says this setup gives them listings 24 hours before they appear on sites like Zillow.

Their goal is to give agents something social, a tool to pair consumers with their real estate professionals and lenders. They have gone live in Austin and will spread across Texas and say their goal is to provide nationwide coverage in the near future. Their technology is patent-pending, so while competitors may look to give their sites some sex appeal, don’t expect duplicates or clones that offer the full boat.

Homespin is young and they have a ways to go regarding scaling and improving their offering by going mobile and the like, but the introduction of Homespin could be just what the industry needs to shake things up.

To view images in larger format, right click and select “Open image in new tab.”
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Homespin landing page
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Homespin search by kitchen
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Homespin search by bathrooms
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Homespin search by living room
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Homespin social connection
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Homespin’s real estate professionals’ dashboard
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Homespin property listing page
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Homespin local market activity page
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Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has 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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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Grant Hammond

    April 3, 2013 at 10:47 am

    The property details pages still miss the mark by not prominently identifying the listing agent’s information. This anonymous listing details page is still disingenuous in my opinion as the intellectual property holder is still hidden in small type at the bottom of the page. The first service to truly embrace the Realtor community is the only service that will last more than a decade as mass Realtor adoption will not occur until they are truly embraced.

    • Jude Galligan

      April 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      Grant, Jude here with Homespin. Thanks for the comment. As as a listing agent in the trenches myself, I agree we (and other services) can do better at making listing office and/or agent much more prominent. Long ago, pre-launch, we recognized and placed the listing office below every single photo in the search page. That’s not something you’ll see on many other home search sites. How we surface that info is getting better, and as we get actionable feedback we can continue to rollout improvements, specifically on the property details pages.

      • Grant Hammond

        April 3, 2013 at 5:59 pm

        It is not just the listing office, but it is the direct contact information for the designated broker who brought this listing to market. Unless you plan on using this page to sell leads, advertising or other nonsense to other Realtors, I cannot see why this information would be withheld. Of course, I am assuming you will roll this product out in more than just your market.

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Offer customers a frictionless online experience with these updates

(MARKETING) Companies of all sizes still have clunky, hard-to-use websites – here’s how to fix that and offer a quality online experience.

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The internet has clearly done wonders for retailers and businesses that sell physical products. Ecommerce is exploding and the evolution of various platforms makes it possible for even the smallest of companies to create their own global supply chains with very little upfront investment or cost. But don’t forget about service-based businesses – such as beauty salons, yoga studios, gyms, chiropractors, and massage centers. These types of businesses have benefited tremendously as well.

The internet has given service businesses the opportunity to increase exposure, drive leads, and better engage modern customers in a convenient manner. However, with great opportunities come incredible responsibilities.

If you want your business to be competitive in today’s landscape, you have to offer customers and clients a frictionless online experience, or a so-called omnichannel solution.

Smooth user experience (UX) is what separates successful businesses from average ones when it comes to online marketing and lead generation. If you want to offer frictionless UX to your customers, here’s where you need to start:

1. Understand buyer journeys
“Today, customer interactions are continuous, contextual, highly personalized and ever-changing, no matter if the customer is on an iPad, talking to Alexa, or entering a subway station,” digital marketing expert David Aponovich points out.

The problem a lot of businesses encounter is a misunderstanding of the customer buyer journey. They view it in isolation, instead of as a long-term play.

“When you start to build digital experiences around your consumers’ actual lives and stop thinking in one-time purchases, you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors,” Aponovich continues. “Removing friction? It starts by being where your customers want you and need you to be.”

2. Offer convenient scheduling
No more asking customers to call the office or send an email in order to schedule an appointment. Rarely will a customer remember to do this. And if they do, it creates an unnecessary hitch in the buying process. You need to offer more convenient scheduling options.

An online appointment scheduling resource will help tremendously with this aspect of UX. A tool like SimplyBook.me makes it easy for smaller businesses (with minimal resources) to streamline the scheduling process for customers and clients. Customers can seamlessly move from interest to purchase/scheduling in the same step.

3. Present plenty of visuals
Nobody likes clutter. As you know, minimalism is the best policy in modern web design. If you want to give your visitors what they’re looking for, ditch the superfluous elements and meaty paragraphs. Instead, opt for high-quality visuals that say more with less.

4. Increase website functionality
Your website should be more than a receptacle for content – or even a platform for scheduling appointments. While these are important aspects, the site itself needs to be functional. This could look like selling physical products directly from the site (if you have them) or offering interactive content that addresses key customer pain points.

5. Make yourself discoverable
It’s easy to believe that UX is all about your website experience, but it actually encompasses a lot more than that. If you want to keep your customers happy, they need to be able to find you. Today, leading brands are putting a huge emphasis on social media, online word of mouth, SEO, and PPC advertising. Prioritize discoverability and you give yourself a pretty big head start.

The internet gives your business an opportunity to reach your target market in a manner that few who went before you would have ever dreamt possible. But it’s not enough to simply reach your audience. Once you engage them, you have to expose them to the frictionless online experience in order to drive conversions and grow your brand. Take some time to think about how you’re doing in this area.

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Microsoft to become 3rd largest gaming company after Blizzard acquisition

(TECHNOLOGY) Microsoft will not be left behind in the Metaverse. The tech giant plans to fully acquire Activision Blizzard by 2023 for $68.7 billion cash.

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The front of the Microsoft office with large Microsoft logo.

Microsoft announced plans to acquire the video game publisher, Activision Blizzard, on January 18, 2022, in an all-cash transaction reported to be valued at $68.7 billion.

The deal gives the tech giant popular game franchises, such as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, and many more to add to its arsenal. This acquisition sets Microsoft up to be the third-largest gaming company by revenue.  Microsoft expects the deal to close in the 2023 fiscal year (which begins in July of this calendar year) once the customary closing conditions have been completed along with the regulatory review and Activision Blizzard’s shareholder approval. Both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard’s board of directors have already approved the deal.

This deal comes in hot on the heels of an avalanche of issues surrounding sexual harassment where 37 employees have reportedly left Activision Blizzard according to this article on The Verge. Microsoft states that Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and he and his team will maintain their focus on driving efforts to further strengthen the company’s culture and accelerate business growth. Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.

Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft Gaming, posted both Activision and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently until the deal is complete with Activision Blizzard then all business will be reported to Spencer.

“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “We’re investing deeply in world-class content, community, and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive, and accessible to all.”

Maybe you noticed the not-so-subtle hint regarding the Metaverse by Microsoft’s chairman and CEO Satya Nadella, but it seems everyone is quick to mention to the public and or other companies listening that they are gearing up to bring their A-game to the Metaverse. Whatever that ends up being.

In the meantime, we can predict some of the possible changes to come from this buyout. Microsoft currently has Game Pass, their subscription-based model for Xbox, which recently hit 25 million subscribers. Now’s the time to sign up for the Game Pass subscription before prices go up to match the revamped gaming inventory. Microsoft could potentially lock down new releases and not deliver them on other platforms, i.e., PlayStation, giving them exclusivity and driving subscription sign-ups.

Whatever ends up happening, Microsoft is making big moves to not be left behind in the gaming world or the Metaverse.

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Want to save snippets of a Zoom meeting? Listener makes it possible!

(TECHNOLOGY) Listener lets you screenshot or bookmark important sections of live meetings, as well as curate a playlist of snippets, to share or playback.

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Listener for Zoom tool landing page on laptop.

We live in a very computer-mediated world where the bulk of communication is done virtually. Many of us spend a great deal of time – whether for work or pleasure – on video calls connecting with people that we’re unable to meet with in person.

Zoom became the unofficial mascot for the pandemic and has shown no signs of going anywhere. So naturally, people are looking for ways to put this to even more of an advantage – like by creating messaging extensions to utilize in lieu of live meetings.

Now the folks behind Listener are getting in on the action by creating Listener for Zoom.

The new tool allows users to bookmark important moments of Zoom calls in real-time and easily turn long recordings into bite-sized video clips.

As founder Nishith Shah puts it, “Zoom meetings just got more productive!”

Listener allows users to do a myriad of things, including live bookmarking to create short video clips; ability to transcribe your entire meeting; edit video clips by using transcripts instead of struggling with video editing tools; share video highlights with your team; create playlists from video highlights across different Zoom meetings to tell powerful stories; use projects to organize your meetings and playlists.

Founders say that Listener is designed for pretty much anyone who uses Zoom. In early testing, the founders found that it is especially helpful for product managers and UX researchers who do customer interviews.

They also reported that early-stage founders have been using Listener to add powerful customer videos to their investor pitch decks. It is also helpful for recruiters and hiring managers who search transcripts across hundreds of hiring interviews to remember who said what and to pass on important clips to other people in the interview process.

The tool is also beneficial for teams and hiring, as customer success and sales teams create a knowledge base with Listener to train and onboard new employees. They also use it to pass on customer feedback to the product teams.

This could also be great for clipping video elements that are appropriate for social media use.

On January 11, 2022, Listener was awarded #3 Product of the Day on Product Hunt.

Listener for Zoom is free while in Beta. The tool works only with licensed (paid) Zoom accounts.

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