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Brad Inman – Listen to the unicorns [Transcript]

Kylie Davis: (00:02)

Welcome to The PropTech Podcast. It’s Kylie Davis here and I’m delighted to be your host as we explore the brave new world where technology and real estate collide. I passionately believe we need to create and grow a sense of community between the innovators and the real estate agents, and sharing our stories is a great way to do that. The aim of each episode is to introduce listeners to a PropTech innovator who is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and explore the issues and challenges raised by the tech and how they can create amazing property experiences, especially in these strange and unusual times we live in. And my guest in this episode, and I am super excited, is the legendary Brad Inman, founder of Inman, a real estate news company, the biggest in the world, that has become a juggernaut through its conferences and events with Inman Connect.


Kylie Davis: (00:49)

Now, Brad has been a long-time champion for technology in real estate. And going to Inman has become a rite of passage for many Australian prop techs. And if you’re a proptech who wants to hone your elevator pitch, being at Startup Alley or in the sponsor’s area at Inman, you will never get better experience than that. But Brad is also a huge agitator for better and more transparent and frictionless service in real estate and the role of good agents or realtors in that service. So at Inman Connect last year, he described real estate as a shitty process and called on agents to embrace the tech that could change that. So this is a power-packed interview that looks at the gift that COVID-19 has given the real estate industry, and also discusses unicorns. So Brad Inman, welcome to the show.


Brad Inman: (01:36)

Oh, so happy to be here, Kylie. Just really, really excited. To be in Australia at this very second in you’re bedroom or office. [inaudible 00:01:45].


Kylie Davis: (01:46)

Well no, you’re in my office. Yeah, it’s safe. It’s appropriate.


Brad Inman: (01:50)

It’s really great. It’s really good to be here. In fact, we have a slogan for our Connect Now conference, which is June 2nd through June 4th, people say, “Well, where’s it going to be?” And I said, “It’s going to be in your house. It’s going to be in your living room. So move around the chairs, make some coffee, have some half and half for me. You’ve been coming to us for 25 years, now we’re coming to you.”


Kylie Davis: (02:09)

Yeah, that’s fantastic. So Brad, tell us what is the Inman elevator pitch? Because on The PropTech Podcast we always ask people what their elevator pitch is.


Brad Inman: (02:18)

Well, I don’t need an elevator pitch because I’m not raising money. So I have a vision but no elevator pitch, not raising money. I did that all my life. Inman’s very profitable, a good company. So the description of the company or the vision of the company is to change the real estate industry to create a better consumer experience. And we’re a news company and we report the news every day, about 20 to 25 stories a day, and we put on events, and it’s that simple. We’re like a good, old-fashioned news company except we’re digital.


Kylie Davis: (02:52)

Cool. And so tell us a little bit about the history. How did it start?


Brad Inman: (02:56)

Well, the way I funded it is I used to rob banks. I was successful at that and I used that to capital. No. It was born out of a scandal at the National Association of Realtors that I covered as a consumer writer. I used to write consumer news for big metropolitan newspapers. And I ran across this scandal at the National Association of Realtors. Relative to now, Kylie, not that big of a scandal, but they had lost or frittered away 27 million bucks and no one knew how, what had happened. They kept it a secret. And this is before there was transparency. And decided to post it on the internet, right? Probably one of the early, first blogs.


Brad Inman: (03:36)

And lo and behold, of course, there was some opportunistic, interesting realtors, kind of a nerdy bunch of realtors, what we call over here, they were BuySide agents and RE/MAX agents, because they tended to be a little smarter and a little more nerdy. And they saw what I posted and they were like, “Oh, finally someone independently talking about our industry.” And that just catapulted into Inman News. So it happened without a big business plan, without a pitch deck, without all that stuff. It accidentally occurred. There was a gap in the market and the gap was independent information for a big, sprawling industry that wanted to know more about… Oddly enough, they had to come to this blogger guy in Oakland, California, to get the scoop on their big, sprawling trade association.


Kylie Davis: (04:21)

Yeah, fantastic. And I think it tells you, doesn’t it, about the importance of transparency, which has always been a big theme of Inmans, and seeing a market niche and going for it.


Brad Inman: (04:32)

Yeah.


Kylie Davis: (04:33)

And building a-


Brad Inman: (04:34)

Definitely. But we were lucky in a way. I mean I just talked to Pete Flint this morning, and he’s the founder of Trulia. They sold to Zillow. And he and I were talking about how the number of cool, new startups that are going to come out of this pandemic, that are in the works now, that are inspired by circumstances. It’s in down, difficult times that the greatest entrepreneurs always emerge. And so it’s going to be fun to watch stuff that, probably you and I in this podcast can’t even imagine, is being cooked up as we speak.


Kylie Davis: (05:05)

Yeah. So let’s unpack that a little bit. Let’s talk about real estate in the time of COVID-19. How’s it playing out for you?


Brad Inman: (05:14)

Well, I spent 20 years ranting and raving about the digital-efficient transaction, and that didn’t get it very far. But the reality is it took a pandemic, oddly enough, a set of circumstances that made it impossible for people to have to go through the bureaucratic process of buying and selling a home, with all these people and all these meetings and all these closing meetings and all these open houses and everything else. It took the forcing function of a pandemic that said, “You can’t do any of that because we’re closed for business.” Yet, there were transactions happening and people want to see houses and people wanted to list houses. So guess what? The real estate industry had to get its act together really quickly and started doing virtual showings and Zoom meetings and e-signatures, and e-closings and screw the whole… We have something over here called a notary, which goes back to I think that 14th century. It probably goes back to-


Kylie Davis: (06:09)

It’s older than America.


Brad Inman: (06:09)

… [crosstalk 00:06:09] thought that scheme up. And that whole process is ridiculous. We can authenticate people sufficiently to go through Homeland Security and not terrorise an aeroplane. You’d think we could figure out a way to have a piece of paper not signed and not have some fellow show up to stamp it. And so the industry’s being forced to adopt all these great technologies that have been around for some time. And it’s really quite revolutionary. We’re going to come out of this with a much better real estate transaction. We may not have many of them, but we will certainly have-


Kylie Davis: (06:45)

Lost a few on the way.


Brad Inman: (06:47)

It will be a lot easier for everybody, for what we call over here the realtor, the real estate agent, and certainly for the buyer and the seller.


Kylie Davis: (06:53)

Yeah, do you think it’s going to stick or do you think there’s going to be a bit of a pushback afterwards to go back to doing things the way that we’ve always done? What can we do about that?


Brad Inman: (07:04)

I use business travel. Okay, let’s use Australia to the US. You all come to our conferences, and that will continue. People want to get together in that way, shape, and form. It requires human touch. Even that will be diminished a little is my suspicion. But think of all the business, all the flights that people have had to take over the years from your country to ours and our country to yours for what I’ll call business contractual administrative relationships. Unnecessary. And what’s great, the lawyers, the business people, the contractors, the development people, they’re all figuring out, and this happened a long time ago in software development, you don’t need to be in the same room to write code. Well, you don’t mean to be in the same room to negotiate a contract. And you don’t need to be in the same room to close a contract. And you don’t need to be in the same room to do business development.


Brad Inman: (07:51)

And I think business travel is just going to be whacked in half because, yeah, I guess we kind of like to travel, but for business travel, it’s exhausting. You’re away from your family. It can be demoralising. I just read today that the market cap of the six largest airlines in the world is less than the market cap of Zoom. And that, right in your face, [inaudible 00:08:11] tells you what’s going on and what’s happening. And so I think there’s a big sea-change and that’s going to stick, Kylie. And the real estate stuff’s going to stick. And no one’s going to worry again too much about a virtual show and no one’s going to worry too much about virtual open house. In the old days, “Oh, you got to have the realtor there,” you got to do this, you got to do that.


Brad Inman: (08:31)

I also think we’re going to throw some technology out, like drip marketing, which sounds like something our ex-President Bush did to the the terrorist suspects.


Kylie Davis: (08:41)

Yeah, yeah.


Brad Inman: (08:42)

No more drip marketing maybe. Wouldn’t that be fantastic? No more useless technologies that don’t work. And I think what’s going on right now, we see it here, is people have time to, one, they need to use technology, so they’re using it. They’re also doing a sorting out and vetting process they didn’t do before. They used to just buy this stuff that the best salesman that knocked on their door exhibited at an event, pitched them. And now a real estate people have time to think about it, use it, try it out, and they’re using this stuff that works and they’re not using this stuff that doesn’t. I threw my Roomba in the pool, my robotic vacuum cleaner, because it was a loudmouth, useless piece of crap, and I got rid of it. And the pool guy wanted to know what was at the bottom of the pool, some sort of outer space thing.


Brad Inman: (09:25)

But the point is we can just do a better job of picking the right technology now.


Kylie Davis: (09:30)

Yeah. Fantastic. And so I hear that you had to isolate for about six weeks. Tell us about that.


Brad Inman: (09:37)

Well, I was all alone. Yaz, my lovely wife, was in Florida. She had to go back to the East Coast in early March to help her mother get to Morocco. And then we decided it’d probably be safer and better for her not to fly. So we stayed apart for about six, seven weeks. But I really wasn’t alone, Kylie. One day I looked out in the front yard and there was a big group of unicorns. And-


Kylie Davis: (10:00)

Oh.


Brad Inman: (10:00)

… [inaudible 00:10:00] my front yard. And after about 10 days of looking at them, and them looking at me, I decided to go out and talk to them. And I spoke to them and we had a really nice chat. I learned a lot about them. They’re immune from viruses. They can move from place to place all over the world in seconds. And the Wednesday I picked up Yaz from LAX, Los Angeles Airport, they told me that’d be the last time we’d be talking. And I was pretty sad. And I said, “Why?” And they said, “Well, we know Yaz is coming home today. We got to move over to another household that has someone that’s alone.” So the unicorns are there for you. Now, the point of that whole story is who in this period, that’s been isolated, hasn’t been a crazy moment, a panic attack? Who hasn’t got angry? Who hasn’t kind of lost their mind? Who hasn’t seen unicorns in their front yard? Maybe not many people doing that.


Brad Inman: (10:46)

But the point is this has been a very human experience where humanity comes out, good, bad, and in between. We don’t put on acts, we’re not trying to pretend, we’re not trying to be all corporate and cool and professional, and we just are who we are. I’m looking at your office, I wouldn’t ordinarily have that opportunity. And so I think that’s really great. And humanity’s coming out in all these beautiful ways. For about three weeks, someone was leaving a bag on my front porch. And in there, one time it’s a leg of lamb.,The other time was a whole chicken, and then some barbecued ribs. And no note, no business card, no after-the-fact text, no someone taking credit. Someone that knew me though, they knew I liked all of those things. Well, it turned out to be my local realtor. So just as we figured out that technology is really, really important, we’re also learning the importance of that local human touch of a realtor.


Brad Inman: (11:38)

And by the way, you know what? I didn’t get those treats in my front… I didn’t get them from Zillow. I didn’t get them from RE/MAX headquarters. I didn’t get them from Realogy headquarters. I didn’t get it from RE/MAX headquarters. I didn’t get them from realtor.com. I didn’t get them from Opendoor. I didn’t get them DashDoor. I didn’t get them from Walmart delivery. I got them from that local realtor.


Kylie Davis: (11:57)

Yeah. And there are some wonderful stories out there of people looking out for each other, aren’t there? And I love now how it’s completely appropriate and an acceptable excuse to not be able to make it to a meeting or to decline a meeting because you either have to go out and do grocery shopping at that time or there’s something going on with the… The kids are often popping into meetings, not my kids, but friends who’ve got kids who will pop into Zoom meetings. And everyone is just like, “Yeah, okay. Well, it happens. It’s life.”


Brad Inman: (12:27)

People are more respectful. And you know me, I’m always giving grief to the big shots. And the big shots are just… So it’s a great equaliser here.


Kylie Davis: (12:36)

Yes.


Brad Inman: (12:36)

Pretty much the same. There’s not the big guys in the high towers and the big offices, and then everyone else. The pyramid has been tipped and it’s very democratic, and I think it’s beautiful.


Kylie Davis: (12:46)

Yeah, and even before COVID, we were seeing that, weren’t we? Where the technology has been moving the power away from institutions towards individuals. And now this pandemic is basically those individuals are coming together.


Brad Inman: (13:00)

By the way, this is iced coffee.


Kylie Davis: (13:02)

Okay.


Brad Inman: (13:03)

Peter Brewer might see this. Oh, he won’t see this, right? This is audio?


Kylie Davis: (13:06)

This is audio, yeah.


Brad Inman: (13:07)

Well, the audience doesn’t know. I’m drinking from a big jar. It’s so big. It’s as big as my head. And I’m drinking my iced coffee that my lovely wife Yaz made for me. And I don’t know why she put it in this big jar, but it’s great. I didn’t think I’d drink it all but I’ve been… Now, that’s probably why I’m talking so fast. I’m [inaudible 00:13:23]. She said, “You got to be on for the Aussies.” She said, “They’re your favourite people in the world.”


Kylie Davis: (13:30)

Yep. Fantastic. Let’s just pause there for a moment and hear a quick word from our sponsors.


Kylie Davis: (13:36)

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Kylie Davis: (14:37)

So let’s talk about what are some of the global trends that you’re seeing right now in the industry? We talked a little bit about transparency before.


Brad Inman: (14:45)

I don’t know if you’ve heard it, but I heard that they closed down the whole global economy.


Kylie Davis: (14:48)

You heard that? Yep.


Brad Inman: (14:51)

Can you believe it? I mean who would have thought?


Kylie Davis: (14:53)

I know, right?


Brad Inman: (14:54)

We not only have a pandemic, but we completely closed down all the businesses of the world instantly. I can’t even digest what it all means. And I always say, “Anyone that can tell me what it all means is full of shit,” because no one knows what it means, Kylie. No one knows. And no one knows yet the unintended and intended consequences here. And no one really knows who to blame or why. And no one knows the fixes that we’re putting in place, whether they were smart or not. And history will judge us. I am riveted by this spirit with which people are trying to tackle the problem, both the science community, the first responders, and just everybody. But on the real estate front, it’s the same thing. You shut down a global economy, guess what? Next thing that’s shut down is the real estate market.


Brad Inman: (15:38)

Now, does that mean there’s no transactions? No, that’s not true. There’s always people looking for housing, for whatever reason. We had people knock on our door here looking to rent a house, just randomly knocking on doors. So there are people that need housing, are looking for housing. And so the real estate industry still has some work to do. They just have a lot less. And I call the summer of 2020… I unfortunately believe it’s going to be the dog days. It’s going to be the summer of the dog days, both the economy and the real estate market. So what we all got to do is be honest about what we’re up against and suit up for a whole different environment in the short term, and then position our companies and the infrastructure and the technology so we’re prepared. One, you want to make sure you come out of it whole, or at least kind of whole, and then be prepared to respond at very low interest rates when buyers and sellers get back in the market. But it’s going to be a tough few months, at least in the US.


Kylie Davis: (16:28)

Yeah. And so what does that positioning look like do you reckon?


Brad Inman: (16:32)

Well, for the industry?


Kylie Davis: (16:32)

Yeah. Well, for agents right now, how should they be positioning themselves?


Brad Inman: (16:38)

Yeah, just getting your house in order. Everyone’s going through their databases. Everyone’s updating their technology. They’re doing things to save money, like going in and looking at all their cost structures, realigning their costs, learning the new technologies, anything you never had time for. All this stuff that you said, “Oh, if I only had a day.”


Kylie Davis: (16:56)

“I’m too busy.” Yeah.


Brad Inman: (16:57)

Yeah, it’s kind of like giving the planet a breather. The upside of this is I just went by a gas station, and I hadn’t filled up gas in a while, it’s cheap. And it’s not only cheap for us to buy fuel but it’s also, the fact that we’ve had this complete decline in the industrial machinery of the world and automobiles, the planet’s getting a breather. So I think, in a way, we’re like the planet, human beings are getting a breather from the rat race. And when you get a breather, you can take care of business. Now, I know it’s not easy every day to get up and make that happen, but the more we take care of that, the better.


Kylie Davis: (17:35)

Yeah. And what’s your advice or what are you telling proptech businesses at the moment, especially the startups in that space, about what they should be doing right now?


Brad Inman: (17:47)

Well, I’ve been through it, different things, dot-com bust, the financial collapse, with startups in and outside of real estate, with venture partners, and my advice to all business people and entrepreneurs is trust your gut. Trust your team. Listen with a feign ear to your investors. They react. February, they’re saying, “Grow, grow, grow, spend the money. Don’t worry. You can raise another round. You can raise it. Grow, grow, grow, spend your money, spend your money, spend your money, you can raise another round, you’re really great.” And then one month later, they’re saying-


Kylie Davis: (18:22)

“Oh my god.”


Brad Inman: (18:23)

… “Cut your costs. Fire everybody right now. You won’t be able to raise another round.” I mean these people are nuts and they’re just not very savvy. Most of them have never run a business. Most of them have never started a business, and it’s just noise. And particularly now, so trust your gut. If you let the venture guys whip you around, you’ll go crazy and you’ll probably ruin your business.


Brad Inman: (18:43)

I remember back in 2001 with the dot-com crash, my CFO said, “We got to stop spending money.” Because, like every startup then, we were acquiring customers for a cost of $408 per customer and we’re making $28 per customer. It didn’t make any sense, but that’s what you do. But he said, “We got to stop. What if this thing would go awry? And we couldn’t raise another round.” So I went to my VCs and said, “Hey, we’re going to stop $3 million worth of the consumer spending a month.” And they went, “Oh no, you can’t do that. You can’t do it.” I go, “Yes, that’s what we’re going to do.” And I just stood up to him. I said, “I’m the CEO. I run the company and I own the company and you’re my investors, but that’s what we’re going to do.” And, oh my god, they thought I was stupid.


Brad Inman: (19:19)

Well, my friend Andrew Coleman, who was the CFO, was right on. Because that nine months we didn’t spend $3 million. Cumulatively, we saved $30 million. And when the dot-com crash and everything came to a screeching halt, you could not raise 12 cents. And my VC, who loved us, wasn’t going to give us 13 cents. And as good and as much as they liked us, there was no money. It completely dried up. Were we brilliant? The only thing we did right is what Andrew Coleman said. Our business was like any other business in startup land. We were told and whipsawed by our venture guys to spend, spend, spend, and then they put us in a predicament. And so you got to stand up to these people and you got to do what’s right for your business. It’s your business, it’s your product.


Brad Inman: (20:04)

So I love people that fund businesses. I love venture capitals, they love Wall Street, but they all have a role. And sometimes there’s a disproportion, talk about power, where they play a little more power and influence than they should. And so not to rag on them all, but since I’m never going to raise money again, I’m not worried what-


Kylie Davis: (20:22)

Yeah. You can speak on all of our behalves. So my first Inman conference, Brad, was San Francisco, I think during the downturn. It was when the US market was really in the downturn. What do you think we can take out of what we learned from that period with us as we go through this one? What should we have learned from it?


Brad Inman: (20:47)

[inaudible 00:20:47] experience, a personal story. Chris Smith was working for Inman at the time, and he was quite the-


Kylie Davis: (20:53)

I had a major fangirl crush on him. Hey, Chris.


Brad Inman: (20:55)

He was quite the ringmaster of our events and people loved him. And it just turned out that the financial crisis was the very moment around the time my parents died. The business wasn’t struggling but it was like every business, it was certainly having its challenges. I was down in the dumps about my parents. And I got on stage at a pre-event, before the main event, and Chris Smith was there. And I was pretty down. And he took me aside and he said, “Brad, I don’t care what you’re feeling right now. I care, but-


Kylie Davis: (21:30)

But don’t.


Brad Inman: (21:30)

… I don’t care how worried you are about the business. You got to put that aside and you got to fake it till you make it. And you got to get up there and you got to smile and you got to pitch some optimism to these people, because they’re looking to you for that. And so get up there and do that.” And he kicked me in the butt, and I’ll never forget it. And it really made all the difference in the world. Another time I never forget, Bob Hale’s wife, Susie Hale, one time I early on was picking up pieces of paper on the carpeting and I was frowning and I was worried about the next speaker and I was running around like a banshee. And she took me aside and she goes, “Hey Brad, just fake a smile when you walk through the crowd because when they see you and you’re all frowny, they’re worried something’s wrong, and you’re worrying them.” And so again, fake it till you make it.


Brad Inman: (22:17)

So those are two. I can go through all kinds of financial lessons and blah, blah, blah. But I really believe, and you all in that country do it naturally, you have a natural optimism no matter what the challenges you face, but some Americans can be pretty pouty, and I at times have been pouty, and so those are powerful lessons for me.


Kylie Davis: (22:39)

So you said the takeout from that would be look for the silver lining, I guess, and focus on that.


Brad Inman: (22:46)

Yep, absolutely. You have to.


Kylie Davis: (22:46)

Yeah. Okay, fantastic. So you’ve pivoted Connect as an event to become Connect Now.


Brad Inman: (22:57)

No, we really haven’t-


Kylie Davis: (22:59)

No?


Brad Inman: (22:59)

… pivoted. The event will still exist. In 2020, none of us are doing anything the way we used to. We can’t have Las Vegas. And therefore, if we can have it, we do know that the community has this burning desire to connect. We know the community has this burning desire to get content. We also know there’s always been a burning desire to take the event global, like to Australia and Canada and Europe. And so suddenly we see an opportunity before us to do all the basic things we always did, have a much larger audience, go global, go with global content. And so to me it’s not Connect. We call it Connect Now. It’s just a new experience provided by Inman that’ll be mind blowing and that will, I think serve our users, our readers, our attendees, even better. And I think those will continue into the future, but we’ll also do killer live events as well. I think that’s our plan.


Brad Inman: (24:02)

But again, I go back to the top of this conversation, none of us, none of us knows what’s next and what exactly is on the horizon. It’s kind of been day to day, week to week, month to month. We’re a well-managed business. We’re lucky to be liquid. And we’re in a position to serve our readership. And we doubled down on doing that and really tried to go from just business intelligence to a real service journalism support during this tough time. And we didn’t lay off people. And we’re leaning into the opportunity to serve our readers.


Kylie Davis: (24:39)

Fantastic. So what do you think are some of the themes, or what are some of the themes that are coming out that are going to be discussed at Connect Now?


Brad Inman: (24:48)

[inaudible 00:24:48] constantly changing. And we’re the news, so we mirror whatever that is. So as things are changing, we’re mirroring that change. I think maybe working from home, staying healthy, was four weeks ago. Then it was, “Oh my gosh, save the transactions.” Then it was, “Where do we get government help?” And now it’s starting to I think really knock people in the face that we have some tough times ahead. So I think that probably one thing that we’re going to be really glued to maybe, in the four weeks before then, is providing kind of essential information to help people survive and thrive and also to look around the bend and build their businesses to last and to get through this and be really opportunistic.


Brad Inman: (25:34)

And then I think there’s just a lot of nuts and bolts. And there’s how can we [inaudible 00:25:38] our business towards service not sales? How can we leverage and use all the new technology? All that practical stuff. I think we’ll have a lot of big thinkers and strategic stuff like we always do. But I think it’s also, kind of like we’ve done with the editorial, it’s going to be very service driven and useful. And I think about the time we have, that is when the industry may be suffering the most, so we’ve got to really make sure people come to that, use that time, and get something out of it that’s going to help them get through the summer.


Kylie Davis: (26:08)

Let’s just pause there for a moment and hear a quick word from our sponsors.


Kylie Davis: (26:12)

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Kylie Davis: (27:20)

What’s some of the tech that you’ve seen around the traps that has really impressed you during this time?


Brad Inman: (27:26)

Well, anything that’s related to showings, automation, digitalization, eliminate paper, eliminates people being in front of each other. Real estate went from being consumer information for the first 10 years of the internet and now it’s moved, I think starting about 2015, into transactional. Everything that’s transactional, that ugly, gnarly backend that gets in the way in and puts too many transactions at risk. That to me is the real future here. Whether it be escrow or title or mortgage. All the multiplicity of steps that get in the way of more efficient transactions. I mean you all, with your auctions, have always been very efficient on the consumer side where you can get in and out and buy a home fairly quickly. And that’s what we’re seeing happen here finally. And so that’s the technological emphasis that’s going on now by the entrepreneurs.


Kylie Davis: (28:20)

Yeah. The auctions have always been a really great, almost like a weekly sports report on how the market’s performing, so we’ve always had that feedback loop. [crosstalk 00:00:28:31].


Brad Inman: (28:30)

What’s going on with those? Is the activity now? Is it back running?


Kylie Davis: (28:34)

Well, no. Auctions, live auctions are still not permitted. But basically there’s a pile of digital platforms out there that allow you to do virtual auctions and also private treaty negotiations over apps that allow you to almost do an auction-styled transaction or give you a lot of transparency around that negotiation tactic. So those guys have really stepped up. There’s probably about six to eight players in that space just in Australia alone.


Brad Inman: (29:06)

Well that’s exciting.


Kylie Davis: (29:07)

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We should export that to the US. Some of them are really great.


Brad Inman: (29:12)

Great idea.


Kylie Davis: (29:13)

So what’s the value that you think Australians and Kiwis are going to get from Connect Now?


Brad Inman: (29:20)

Well, first, just meeting people from around the world. There’ll be better ways to connect. I think the exhibit hall is better at our digital event than our real Connect.


Kylie Davis: (29:31)

Tell me more about that. How does that work?


Brad Inman: (29:33)

You’ll be able to see in your own time, in your own space, without a distraction. You think about it, you go up to a booth and there’s a guy and then there’s a woman, and then there’s people around and you meet someone. You’re looking. You’re trying to focus. There’s a lot of noise and you’re distracted by the guy who’s got bad breath, and you can’t focus on what it’s about. Now, you’re going to be able to click on exhibit and there’s going to be a digital demo and demonstration. You’re going to be able to try it. You’re going to be able to use it. You’re going to be able to move it around yourself. You’re not going to be distracted by anything. And so I think it’s actually a better experience.


Brad Inman: (30:10)

I also think you’re going to be able to meet more people. If you think about it, okay, you go to the event and you sit next to three or four people, and then maybe meet a couple of new people in the hallway. Then you see some old friends and they introduce you. So now we’re up to like 20 people. Then you go to maybe two or three cocktail parties. Brewer probably goes to a hundred.


Kylie Davis: (30:32)

Most of the Australians would go double that, yeah.


Brad Inman: (30:36)

Yeah, so maybe it’s at max another 20 or 30. And then you add it all up and you’ve seen maybe, if you’re lucky, you met maybe 150, and most of those are in passing. And now you’re going to be able to connect with everybody seamlessly throughout their three or four days and afterwards in a more genuine way. Let’s take you and I, Kylie, we have met in passing a zillion time. Even when I came to Australia, you had me bopping around from meeting to meeting all day, all night, la, la, la, la, la, la, la. I had a lot of meetings in passing, but I didn’t have this. You and I in 25 minutes had a more meaningful connection than we did two days together.


Brad Inman: (31:14)

And so there’s a lot of benefits to the digital virtual experience that we’ve learned in the last 30 days that are amazing. I have interviewed people for my podcast. Honestly, I didn’t really know who they were. I’m in the green room at the Connect. They got all their wing men there worried about what they’re saying. The person gets distracted. Something comes up, I get distracted. Rich Barton and I may be sitting there for 20 minutes together, but honestly we maybe had 30 seconds of any meaningful dialogue like, “What’s really going on with you?” So I think there’s a pony in here. And it’ll be like anything, the people that come to Connect and take advantage of it come out winners. The people that come and sit back, don’t dive in, it’ll be like anything. But I think at the end it’s going to be pretty powerful. I’m really convinced.


Kylie Davis: (32:13)

Yeah. And just to let everybody know, we will be doing some special Australian content, and making sure that we can make the time zones and things like that work for the Australian audience. Because we know that not everyone wants to wake up at 3:00 AM and listen to speakers. So we’ll be looking at ways that we can really localise what’s going on [crosstalk 00:32:34].


Brad Inman: (32:33)

Yeah, we have to do that. And I will be, after this call, pushing. I push my team all the time on this. We have to figure out on our end the way to do that as well.


Kylie Davis: (32:42)

Yeah. And Pete and Tara and I have got some great ideas so we’ll be sharing them really soon. So one last question, Brad, we’ve talked about how realtors are coping with COVID, we’ve talked about proptech and the arc around that. What about the big players in real estate? What are you seeing from them?


Brad Inman: (33:04)

I think they’re the most challenged. I think this is an epic moment in the history of real estate technology adoption. And I think those, one, that are outsourcing all of their technology, don’t control it, can’t direct it because they’re dependent on others for the product roadmap, I just think this is going to be a turning point. If a legacy company doesn’t own a lot of its own technology, isn’t adopting all the current technology, is holding back in any way, shape, or form, I think they’re in trouble. And so I think this could be a defining moment. And then I think a lot of companies that were already in the US struggling anyway, the big brokers, small brokers, whose margins were tight, they didn’t have enough market share, they were already struggling in a great housing market. So it might be the demise of some of them. Anyone that can’t be agile, can’t control and own their own technology, and keep with what’s now going to be a huge revolution in technology, I think is really going to struggle.


Kylie Davis: (34:02)

Yeah. And what about iBuyers? Because they’ve been such a big theme of Inman conferences for the last couple of years.


Brad Inman: (34:10)

They’re already back, and no one knows. They’re opening their doors in Atlanta this week and they’re well capitalised. And some of the smartest people in the industry are doing it. And I just got wind of it last week. It’s happening in Atlanta. My guess, it’s going to roll out across the country very quickly.


Kylie Davis: (34:27)

Yeah. And so I am going to ask one last question. I’m intrigued still by the unicorn story. What piece of advice or guidance did the unicorns give you?


Brad Inman: (34:41)

Just relax, we’ll all get through this. And be grateful like, “Bradley, you should be grateful that a group of unicorns are in your front yard.”


Kylie Davis: (34:51)

Yeah.


Brad Inman: (34:53)

Not everybody has that lucky chance to spend a morning with unicorns.


Kylie Davis: (34:58)

You didn’t have COVID and that was a fever thing, was it?


Brad Inman: (35:01)

No.


Kylie Davis: (35:01)

No?


Brad Inman: (35:01)

And I didn’t take any LSD and it wasn’t a hallucination. They just showed up one day and I decided to believe. Everyone asks for pictures, and I unfortunately was too into it. It’s kind of like you go to the Grand Canyon. Anyone that goes to Grand Canyon and whips out their iPhone, no, don’t do that. You should just go stay at home and watch it on YouTube. If you’re at the Grand Canyon, put your camera away and just absorb what’s going on around you. And so I decided to just absorb the fact that I had unicorns in my front yard and not go running for my camera and try to take a picture. So regrettably, I don’t have any proof, but they taught me to be grateful.


Kylie Davis: (35:44)

Yeah. Yep. And this has been a period where a lot of people are focusing on what they’re grateful for. And I think probably we should all be grateful for that.


Brad Inman: (35:56)

If you’re not, just believe a little, the unicorns will show up and they’ll teach you gratitude.


Kylie Davis: (36:01)

Fabulous. Thank you so much for your time, Brad. It’s been wonderful to have you on The PropTech Podcast.


Brad Inman: (36:06)

You’re the best. I’m a big fan of everything you do.


Kylie Davis: (36:08)

Thank you.


Brad Inman: (36:08)

And all of the listeners of this podcast should do everything they can to support Kylie. She’s always there on the frontline with everything Inman’s ever done as long as she’s been attending. So keep up the good work and thank you for helping us with Connect Now. It’s going to be really a lot of fun.


Kylie Davis: (36:23)

I am very excited to be an ambassador. I’m looking forward to it.


Kylie Davis: (36:37)

Now that was Brad Inman, founder of Inman and one of the most influential people in real estate and proptech in the world today. And I’ve been a huge fan of Brad, major fangirl ever since I first attended my first Inman Connect in San Francisco back when I was at News Corp. I went as a guest of Ray White with Mark McCloud, Kelly Tetlow, Sam White and Lindsey Douglas, and big shout out to all the guys. And at it, I met this tech wunderkind called Nathan Krisanski. And it was also the trip when I caught up for lunch on one day with Greg Dickerson and Monique Dorigo who were influential in my career at CoreLogic. So Inman has been a very influential part of my life. And what I’ve always loved about Inman was the extraordinary positivity and optimism that comes from those conferences and the strong sense of community around it.


Kylie Davis: (37:24)

When you go to Inman, you are buzzed for months after. Everything seems possible. The ideas are big. And if you’re in tech, it’s a monstrous high. And Brad has been extremely successful at building a community of engaged and positive people who are passionate about the industry and about its higher purpose, which is not about egos or commissions but about the power we have to help people find their home. I think I’ve been to six Inman conferences, and every one I have just brought home the most amazing information. And it’s given me huge context for the tech challenges that we see in our businesses and for the industry as a whole. So I was really excited to become an Inman ambassador for Connect now this year. It’s a virtual event, but together with my fellow ambassadors, Tara Christianson and Peter Brewer and de facto Aussie ambassadors, Laura Monroe, Joe Chute, and also Molly McKinley, we’re dedicated to creating a great Australian and Kiwi experience around the conference that’s both time-zone friendly and gives you the best of both worlds of amazing global and local content.


Kylie Davis: (38:29)

So if there are topics that you would like to see discussed at Inman, drop me an email, kylie@realcontent.guru. I’d really love to hear from you. Now I’ve included a link in the show notes to Inman Connect, which is, as I said, a virtual event. There are tickets priced from just $49 US, so it’s cheaper than ever before to come and tap into some of this content and you can do it from the comfort of your own home. So if you’ve enjoyed this episode of The PropTech Podcast, I would love you to tell your friends or drop me a line or share the episode around on LinkedIn, on our Facebook page, or you can follow this podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Anchor, or Apple iTunes. I’d like to thank my audio support, Charlie Hollins and the fabulous Jill Escudero, and our sponsors, Smidge Wines, proud to be the official wine of Australian proptech, and my new sponsor, Direct Connect, making moving easy, and HomePrezzo, turning your data into amazing marketing content, which has never been more important in these days of social isolation. So thanks everyone. Until next week, stay safe and keep on propteching.