Tag Archives: RPR

More on Trim Tab, RPR, AMP and the Future of MLS Technology

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I see… mass customization of the MLS!

Now that I’ve been liberated from some of my confidentiality constraints (see my previous post, which required permission from various companies I had non-disclosure agreements with, as well as permission from a client to discuss work I had done for them), I can opine more freely about the topic of RPR, Advanced Multi-List Platform (“AMP”), and the future of MLS technology.

Let’s start by a fair criticism of RPR leveled by a level-headed guy. Brian Boero of 1000watt, emerged as a reluctant critic last Friday, writing this in his post “Friday Flash: The Last RPR Critic“:

RPR is going to get into the business of providing MLS “Back-end” services – the database/data management/heavy lifting sort of stuff – so that more MLSs and MLS subscribers can implement their own “front-end of choice.”

The bottom line is that a lot of money has been spent on an initiative for which the market has provided no convincing validation. And now it seems poised to expand into an entirely new dimension.

I don’t get it. I really, honestly, don’t. It was a noble idea put forth by well-meaning, intelligent people. But now it seems to me like the driving force is saving face, not saving member dollars.

I think this is a very fair criticism, if what you assume RPR is doing is pivoting to becoming a MLS vendor. Since I believe (well, hope, since I’m no longer advising RPR) that RPR is doing something completely different, I think people should take another look at least at the concept of AMP.

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Project Trim Tab: From Dream to Reality

[NOTE: This is a post I wrote for a client, SIRMLS, and decided to cross-post to my blog because it tells so much of my personal involvement in it. Thanks to Tim Dain and to SIRMLS for the opportunity to tell the story, and granting me permission to cross-post to my blog.]

Project Trim Tab Team

Has it been a full year already?

“Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary — the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab.

It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go.

So I said, call me Trim Tab.”

— Buckminster Fuller

Introduction

The dream of fundamentally improving the MLS technology platform has been one that the industry has talked about for years. We have seen a surge in credit-taking amongst the “thought leaders” within the industry in recent weeks, as RPR has started to shed light on their Advanced Multi-List Platform, aka AMP™. But the concept of a flexible MLS, powered by modern API’s (Application Programming Interface), which allows for flexibility and innovation has been around since at least the mid 2000’s when technology companies like Google, Facebook, and Salesforce debuted the concept of API’s and “mashups”.

As is said, success has many fathers. But in this case, many of those were absentee dads at best. The real story of what is possibly the biggest advance in the MLS industry since the advent of the Internet itself cannot be told without mentioning the central role of SIRMLS.

As I was the author and architect of this overall effort, I know better than most just how valuable SIRMLS and its leadership have been, and remain. I know that we would not be discussing AMP, RPR, and the overall concept of the modular MLS had it not been for SIRMLS, its Executive Director Tim Dain, the Presidents Brad Krueger, Rick Lauschke, and Lindsey Egner and the Boards they led. Without the courage to take risks, to support, and to invest in moving forward when everyone else wanted to wait and see, there would be no story to tell.

We thought it was worth laying out the journey from the start to where we are today. The future makes sense only in the context of how we arrived at the present.

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Seven Predictions for 2015: The Nouvelle Vague Edition

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Welcome, faithful readers to an annual tradition here at Notorious ROB: making predictions for the coming year that are Guaranteed to be Wrong, or Your Money Back!

The musical pairings for this edition comes from the extraordinary and extraordinarily unique French cover band, Nouvelle Vague. I mean, who else does remakes of 80’s new wave hits with a vaguely self-aware melancholy infused with a 60’s bossa nova vibe? Yep, the French, that’s who.

Let’s get into it.

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REALTOR Dues to Pay for RPR? (UPDATE: CONFIRMED! Plus More!)

 

As a blogger, rather than a “credentialed journalist” (whatever that means), I have the freedom to just pass on rumors, as long as I label them as such. Well, consider this one of those rumors I have not confirmed yet. [UPDATE] I just got a second person to confirm the rumor. Two people saying the same thing now moves this past the realm of rumor into a confirmed report. More detail below..

I’ve heard from a reliable source earlier this evening that there are some major changes afoot at NAR. The biggest upshot of the changes is that starting in 2012, portions of the dues from NAR members will go towards supporting RPR, REALTORS Federal Credit Union, and other so-called “Second Century” Initiatives. A few minutes of Googling suggests that the original Second Century Initiatives program — which included a line item for “The creation of a national gateway for real estate information, not a national MLS” — was funded by a $16 increase in dues in 2008.

But from the start, RPR was presented as a wholly-owned for-profit business unit of NAR that would be self-sustaining, after the initial investment of roughly $25 million to buy the Cyberhomes assets from LPS and a few million for LPS data. The idea was that the data generated by RPR would be very valuable when sold to financial institutions, government agencies, and the like, and the operation would throw off enough cash not only to continue providing the system to REALTORS at no charge, but also to generate enough profit to pay back NAR.

For reference, here’s a report of a Q&A session with Dale Ross, CEO of RPR, back in March of 2010:

Why should Second Century need to be paid back?

NAR’s Second Century fund is a venture capital fund which must paid back for its investments. However, that’s not the source of RPR’s funding. RPR money comes from an NAR technology fund set up with $100 million fund (from investments); NAR’s Finance Committee stipulated that monies must be paid back to replenish fund.

Since you’re providing RPR for free, where is money coming from? What happens if your revenue models are way off?

Three scenarios: app doesn’t work, we shut down; app works and rev model works, win-win; app works but rev model off. We project we’ll need $50 million/yr to run it… if it is valuable and not generating cash, we’ll figure up another funding source. If members want it and NAR Directors decide that is best way, that could be a member dues increase. I have never seen pro formas work; I have pushed the numbers around based on a 36-month breakeven. We’ll see. (Underline added for emphasis)

Well, if the rumors that member dues will start paying for RPR starting 2012 are true, then I’m gonna take a wild stab and suggest that the 36-month pro formas were way optimistic. Since we’re looking at a dues increase in two years (launch in 2009, dues funding decision in 2011 to take place in 2012) to support RPR.

A few questions arise. The first of which is, “So uh, is this true?” I’d love for anyone who can confirm or deny the rumor. Please feel free to contact me privately via email, twitter, Facebook, phone, whatever. My contact information is on the About page. More questions follow, all of which assume this rumor of dues funding for RPR and other Second Century Initiatives is indeed true.

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Shiva Ranks! (A Way To Rate Innovations)

Recently, I mused on the nature of innovation and how it goes hand-in-hand with destruction.  The key thought, as pointed out by a savvy commenter, in that post is:

Or thought of another way, when you look at the innovations in the industry today — whether mobile apps, CRM technologies, social media, RPR, or whatever — you might ask, “What part of the industry does this innovation destroy?”

If the answer is “none”, then that thing, whatever it is, is not innovation.  It is, rather, incremental improvement; a marginal gain in efficiency.  It isn’t the automobile, but faster horses.

It seems to me that the corollary of “if it doesn’t destroy, it isn’t innovative” is that the degree of innovation is related to the degree of destructive potential.

So where would some of the recent much-discussed innovations rank on the “Shiva Scale” — the degree to which said innovation would destroy one or more parts of the real estate industry?  Let’s say the Shiva Rank goes from 1 to 10 where 1 might be “as harmless as a baby bunny” and 10 might be “thermonuclear bombardment from orbit”.  Where would some of the recent innovations rank?

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