About a decade ago, a 33-year-old Stuart Wolff started fishing around doing due diligence on the Realtor Information Network on behalf of his employer, cable giant TCI, a prospective investor in the troubled National Association of Realtors online venture. The low-key Princeton Ph.D. was working behind the scenes to put a deal together on RIN, which owned RealSelect Inc., a company formed to operate the Realtor.com home listings Web site. Several months later in November 1996, RealSelect named Wolff chairman and CEO and the composed new leader with an engineering background fielded questions from suspicious reporters at a National Association of Realtors press conference. Suddenly a man no one had heard of a year earlier was instantly recognized as heading the NAR's largest online ventur...
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