Contactually And Compass : The Platform Wars Are Here

Posted by Morgan Carey on Thursday, February 28th, 2019 at 8:45pm.

If you had any doubt before, it should be gone now: The Platform Wars Are Here 

Last week Gary Keller announced that KW Command was ready for prime time and that Keller Williams had a clear advantage over the competition when it came to “end-to-end” platforms provided by franchise to brokers & agents. I was given a tour of the platform and it is clearly not ready for prime time yet. I was also not a big fan of the hyperbole and the way Gary Keller oversells his platform. Granted it’s coming along, and it is better than what they have now, but it certainly isn’t the best of breed (and it’s not done).

You can read my thoughts on Gary Keller and Command here

RE/MAX has announced that they are looking to release their Booj acquired platform in Q2 according to Adam Contos as announced at R4. Admittedly I have only reviewed the platform as it exists for non-RE/MAX clients and have not seen the innovations / changes made specifically for RE/MAX so I cannot comment on that. But what I will say is this, next to Real Estate Webmasters (REW), Booj was probably the best available customizable enterprise platform in real estate. So if they kept the good engineers, innovators and designers at Booj in place and let them do what they do best, I am expecting to see something quite competitive from LLC later this year.

My main questions on the RE/MAX LLC platform are:

- Can they execute on a roll out in a reasonable amount of time to 600 or so MLSs and 54,000 agents?

- Have they built a platform for scale (and will it hold up)?

- And of course, what happens to all those independent Booj customers that were on the platform when they were acquired?

 -Are they going to benefit from all this new tech as well?

- Will RE/MAX & Booj give them the same amount of attention and priority as RE/MAX brokers? 

If I’m RE/MAX and I’m investing in a competitive advantage for MY brokers, I’m not sharing it with the competition. But that’s just me.

Keeping the non RE/MAX customers long term has honestly never made sense to me from a RE/MAX perspective, nor does it make any sense at all for Independents to stay on a platform owned by RE/MAX given all the noise / concerns in the marketplace around data & privacy.

I wrote about this scenario when Booj was first acquired last year at this post

I’d love to hear from Booj customers now as to where they are on this and has their experience changed since the platform was first acquired. Did Booj and RE/MAX make good on their commitments? Please leave me a comment below. 

And now onto this week's big news: Compass Buys Contactually

Before I comment on the acquisition, I am going to state my position on Compass; I feel it’s important for context.

So here goes: I am NOT a fan of Compass and I think they will fail. 

Compass thinks they can buy their way into an industry and when they hit the scene they had almost as much false bravado is my good buddy Gary K (or Gary V, take your pick). Time has shown that for all their big talk about being innovative and this amazing tech company, they really have not succeeded in bringing anything transformative to the marketplace. Anyone remember Leonard Steinberg confidently informing us that Compass single-handedly invented technology? It was right after they invented yard sign. 

I think you’ll fail because:

  • You can’t buy people’s loyalty (and buy market share). You can’t. It’s not a long term strategy.

  • You claim that you are amazing at technology development. My opinion is there are far more qualified and capable technology vendors already in the space, and you don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of taking us on while executing against your growth goals.

  • Your model has not been tested in the deep waters of a changing market. Anyone can make money in a good market. Let’s see how well you pivot in a downturn.

  • You’ve lost your momentum. I heard Robert say on stage at Inman New York that Compass is slowing down and focusing in the markets they have made investments in and would likely not be expanding (ie buying their way in) to additional markets the same way they had done in the past.

  • I think you’ll run out of money before you succeed. You are VC funded and the markets are changing. If things keep going the way they have been (just my opinion), the kind of money it would take to continue your stated expansion simply won’t be there and you’ll far short of the target. Just my 2 cents on that, take it or leave it. I’m no expert on VC’s or markets…. I just hope I’m right.

  • If everyone else also has “the greatest tech platform on the planet” you have no pitch! You’re just like everyone else. Except you don’t have anywhere near the depth of real estate knowledge of most of your competition.

So now because all the best companies have realized it takes a platform to be competitive, you’re running a real estate business like everyone else. 

And guess what? My money is on the brokers with generations of experience in the deep waters who understand that there is more to this business than just buying people with bonuses thinking you’ll figure it out as you go.

They are smart, they are LOCAL, they have a smaller market footprint (and thus can be far more agile in development and rollout for a lot less money). They aren’t so arrogant as to think they can be all things. The best brokerages know they should focus on building great real estate businesses and hire the experts (technology, marketing, training) to bring in the value they need to complete their offering.

So that’s where I stand on Compass: I hope they lose. I really do. There are too many great brokers out there who have worked to hard and earned their spot. This is their space. They will win. 

And now for the Contactually acquisition.

First let me say this: Zvi Band is truly one of the nicest, smartest and most genuine guys I have ever met. He is one of the “good guys” and a wonderful family man. I love and respect him, and for him to have made this decision, I know that he did so to do right by his family and his employees. Zvi, I am happy for you my man. You deserve this exit and I am proud of the company and product you have built.

Nothing but love.

As for Contactually and Compass.

I hate to say it (I really do) but in my humble opinion Compass just took the #1 spot for best CRMs owned by a real estate franchise. Contactually is a very good product, built by very smart people (it is WAY better than what I have seen in Command) and it is even competitive with the top tech vendors who are not franchise owned (REW, FUB, BT, CINC etc).

Of all the CRMs you could have purchased, you bought the best one.

You’re still not end to end (as far as I know you still don’t have a front end offering, TM, Accounting, Lead Gen etc.) but if you keep buying and integrating companies like contactually, you might not ever be a great real estate company or have great culture, but you’ll be one hell of a tech company.

As for those of us not owned or controlled by “the competition,” well, I can only speak on my own behalf really. 

I look forward to having some worthy competition. We’ll double down, triple down, whatever it takes to make sure that our customers (the TRUE real estate companies) are not only competitive with Compass from a technology and marketing perspective, we’re going to help take back any market share that you “bought.”

We’re about to release the next version of our CRM into Beta group with the planned full release date to coincide with REW Summit + Inman this July.

We cannot wait to start incorporating it into our customers' websites so that they have even more reason to be able to capture the market share that they deserve.

Screenshot of new REW CRM 2.0 

 

PS:

REW (Real Estate Webmaster Inc) is 100% privately owned by one person (that would be me) and I LOVE what I do. I love this industry, and most of all, I love our amazing customers. We work for them (the real estate broker) and their customers. We have no shareholders, we have no VC investors and we have no pressure from outside sources to exit and we are completely self funded & profitable (we always have been). We are also celebrating our 15th year in this industry this way and are NOT built to sell. 

We we are built for is partnering with amazing brokerage firms to work to build them a customizable solution to compete with ANY VC backed startup or franchise funded projects. We’re fast, agile, and the most experienced firm on the planet.

If you’d like to take a closer look at what we do. Let me know, I’d be happy to take you on a tour.

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