SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco’s Financial District is bustling: Consumers walk briskly clutching shopping bags; white-collar workers are rushing to get their morning coffee fix; construction workers and the sounds of their trade fill the air; and the usual group of panhandlers hits up the crowd for some spare change.
Overlooking this flurry of shoulder-to-shoulder foot traffic is the historic Hobart Building, a terra cotta building with a marble-finished interior that is the work of renowned architect Willis Polk.
Clean Offer, a real estate service that allows consumers to access detailed property information through connections with subscribing real estate professionals, occupies an office on the 16th floor. The company refers to its offering as a "Client Relationship Management Tool," as it does not operate an open-to-the-public property-search Web site.
Employees dressed in collared, button-up shirts and slacks are seated at desks. Clean Offer runs with a slim staff: consisting of the CEO, chief technology officer, three engineers, director of business development, director of sales, and a part-time technology worker. The company also hires independent contractors to assist with major projects.
Clean Offer’s motto is that the service is "for the serious, not the curious," which means that the site’s users are actively seeking properties to purchase and aren’t casual searchers and lookie-loos. Agents and brokers who are members of a multiple listing service can subscribe to the service in order to offer Clean Offer services to their clients — clients must enter into a commitment agreement in order to gain access to the property listings information.
In addition to coverage in the greater San Francisco area, in April 2008 Clean Offer announced a planned expansion to Austin, Texas, and the company also has plans to expand services to New England, the Washington, D.C., metro area, and Columbus, Ohio.
David Faudman founded Clean Offer in Larkspur, Calif., in 2002, opening the company’s San Francisco office in 2005.
"Because we are located in downtown San Francisco — in the Financial District, our office layout is really unique. You won’t find another office like ours that is downtown-centralized," says Faudman.
The engineering department adjoins his office — Faudman notes that he works closely with that department. Nadeem Bitar is the senior software engineer and CTO John Hampton also works as co-chief and engineer with the engineering department.
"Since we are a such a small company, we all have to wear a lot of hats, and I have to work with the development team and make sure that everything is on track," says Hampton. "(We) are always trying to figure out how to get the most out of a small team."
Across the room from the engineer department is the hub of the client and customer service activity. Matt Harris, the director of business development, and David Munroe, vice president of operations, occupy separate cubicles with sliding glass doors. The space next to them is a small conference room — Faudman calls it the "war room" — for staff meetings.
With boards, Post-it notes and index cards, staff members compile a list of product developments. They place the highest priority at the top of this list in a method they call "scrum."
Many software companies use "scrum" during the product or software development process to map out shipping times and strategies.
All of the data for Clean Offer services is stored at a secure facility in San Jose, Calif. Faudman says he visits the data center about twice each month — the facility requires palm-print verification before granting entrance.
"Our data is as safe as CIA information," he says.
When Clean Offer is presenting a product to a prospective client, the meeting usually takes place in the Hobart Building’s bigger conference room, which is shared by other tenants in building.
Faudman says he spends about half of his time out of the office, meeting with potential or current clients and visiting the company’s branch in Texas.
The company offers a bottle of champagne or gift cards to individuals who close big deals. "We’ll all celebrate as a team when we have success here," says Faudman.
The Clean Offer team arranges get-togethers when time permits. There is an annual Christmas party, usually held at a restaurant. They also spend their time together outside of work — at local bars, baseball games and basketball games — Harris is an assistant coach for a local boys’ basketball team.
Harris, recently married in his hometown of Newport Beach, Calif., says he plans to return to school to get his master’s degree in kinesiology at San Jose State University and become a full-time basketball coach.
"The team here is very supportive of other things that we want to do and it allows me to be flexible with my schedule," Harris says. He spends half of his time working from home and the other half at the office.
Nadeem Bitar, senior software engineer, says he spends most of his time at the office since his role requires all of the engineers to constantly interact with each other and with Faudman.
Bitar, who speaks four languages including French, Arabic, Japanese and English, says that prior to working with Clean Offer he didn’t know much about real estate. "It is very rewarding when I see customers use our product and when I talk to them. They contact us to give us feedback and offer advice and ideas, which helps us improve in the future," says Bitar.
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