Technology

Mark Pullyblank: ‘We’re just capitalizing on the secret desire to play with dollhouses’

A real estate hacker talks animated films, cereal bars and day planners

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I spent much of the ’90s working as a musician, bouncing around North America in a tour van. I began my animation career animating talking animals on the first “Garfield” movie. I have been an animation supervisor at Rainmaker Digital and Frantic Films, a senior animator at Sony Imageworks and have worked in various departments at Weta Digital.

My films include the second and third “The Hobbit” films, “Avatar,” “The Adventures of Tintin,” “The Smurfs,” “Night at the Museum” and many others.

How’d you end up in real estate tech?

I was working as a visual FX artist when a friend introduced me to the idea of building real estate walk-throughs using a game engine.

What do you do?

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I am the CEO of Theia Interactive, the head of animation at CGSpectrum.com and a lecturer at California State University Chico.

What aspects of real estate are you trying to make better?

Currently, the homebuying experience is dull and frustrating. Looking at photos or still-frame renderings doesn’t provide the buyer with all the necessary information for such an important purchase.

What if a developer could walk clients through their homes even before they’re built?

What if, during this walk-through, the clients could browse furniture catalogues, arrange the furniture any way they like, and even purchase the furniture all through the same application? We’re really just capitalizing on people’s secret desire to play with dollhouses.

Mark Pullyblank's office space

Mark Pullyblank’s office space

What’s your favorite part of what you do?

I’ve always loved brainstorming with smart and creative people. We also have private bathrooms; I love that.

What products have you had a part in developing in the past?

I wrote and am in the process of pitching an episodic animated television series. I love the process of making up stories, creating characters who surprise me. It’s an escape, I guess.

I also had a hand in developing four kids, the execution of which was flawless … for me.

What are you working on right now? What are the challenges?

I’m in the process of helping my talented co-workers at Theia get this business off the ground. The big challenge of launching a new business with new technology is trying to figure out problems we don’t know exist. Our solution is to attract people smarter than we are. Happily, they are abundant!

Favorite Twitter account?

The only one I pay attention to is @kellyoxford because I knew her once and I’m super jealous of her success. After all this time, I still haven’t learned how to be happy for people.

Favorite food?

Cereal bars that I find in my glove box while stuck in traffic on a summer day.

Favorite video game? (Or book, if you don’t have a favorite game.)

My day planner.

Favorite city?

Chico, California.

Favorite band or singer?

Jeff Reid.

What do you hate about technology?

The decrease in the speed of walking traffic due to texting. Also, I can’t fit my VHS tapes into my iPhone. I was born in the ’60s.

What is one thing you would like to fix about the real estate industry?

It’s really complicated and scary. Talking to a Realtor is like crossing the border in a foreign country; you kind of nod and pretend you know what everyone is talking about, but you secretly fear that you’re going to end up sitting on a toilet being watched by strangers. Of course, it’s an easy fix; a bit of education goes a long way.

There is one thing I think we do that can help, and that is feeling connected to your home earlier, making for fewer disappointments and buyer’s remorse.

Do you think technology can change the industry?

Good question. I think what we do will make it easier for people buying real estate from afar. It will also speed up transactions. If we do our jobs right, people will want to simply move into their computers. We can’t make that happen … yet.

In or out of real estate, is there one problem, large or small, that you would like to solve?

I’m concerned with how dickish people can be online. Imagine standing in a checkout line at the supermarket and saying something like, “I love that new Macklemore record.” Would someone really tell you that you have your head up your ass? Maybe if YouTube could randomly access your real name, or your parents’ names, and swap it with your user name — just once in a while and when you never knew when it was going to happen. …

What motivates you?

Somebody doing something really well that I can’t do. Seriously, things get stuck in my head and I can’t let it go until I figure it out. I’m afraid to take my kids to the circus because I’ll be forced to spend the next six months walking across the clothesline in my backyard.

Time at current company: One year

Age: 47

Social media: LinkedIn, Twitter

Are you a real estate hacker who’d like to participate in our profile series? Email amber@inman.com.