By accident, I learned that Upstream has tapped real estate executive recruiter Corporate Management Advisors (CMA) to find a CEO for its listings initiative. Who these real estate power brokers might pick will make the difference between a flop or a triumph for the plan to create a single sign-on for distributing home listings and for giving brokers more control of their online fate. The number of conflicting interests, motivations and stakeholders is a real estate Rubik’s Cube, so it is a tough hire.
This unusual person must be some combination of Bono (charisma), John Kerry (political negotiator) and Marc Andreessen (tech genius) if this burgeoning enterprise has any hope of succeeding. The new executive must appease a gang of cautious franchise and broker executives; navigate tricky National Association of Realtors (NAR) politics; calm down the MLS crowd; deliver simple and easy-to-use software and evangelize its adoption.
It’s interesting that the Upstream board picked Florida-based CMA, a traditional real estate industry recruiting agency. I could not find any meaningful mention of technology recruitment on its website, but it promises to deliver “dynamic leaders.” Not selecting a noted technology recruiter indicates that domain experience (real estate) is more important than start-up or software expertise.
I heard that CMA was interviewing prospects in New York during Inman Connect New York. Their entire prospect pool was probably there, so they saved Upstream some travel expenses.
Who (allegedly) has been called by the recruiter? A few different names have surfaced. My list is a combination of likely suspects and unlikely dream candidates whom the Upstream board would probably not even consider. Some would be ready and able, while others are long shots. The big question: will Upstream land a rock star, an old school insider or somebody in between? The industry is full of talent, this list is only a taste of the possibilities. This first important decision will certainly influence confidence in the new enterprise.
Comment below with your recommendation or prediction.
Mark Willis is a former Keller Williams Realty CEO and respected industry leader. Does he have one more big chapter in his successful career? Can the other franchise brands get over the rub of picking one of their own? Odds 40 to 1 that he would even consider the job.
Pete Flint is an entrepreneur, co-founder of Trulia and a Zillow board member. Landing Flint would be a home run for Upstream. Odds 1 million to 1 that he would take this job. And 10,000 to 1 he would be offered the job.
Russ Cofano is a former Move executive, start-up founder, lawyer and association CEO. On paper, his experience maps to the position, but is he enough of an evangelist? Odds even money that he would take it. He is looking for his next gig.
Elizabeth Mendenhall or Richard Mendenhall. She is a broker with her father, and she’s also the 2017 NAR big cheese. She is a formidable and clear-headed leader, but does she have the chops for this messy job? He is the former president of NAR and a Missouri real estate broker. An open-minded, innovative and trusty hand who might keep all sides in line. Odds 50 to 1 that he would take the position. Elizabeth, 290 to 1.
Ben Kinney is an entrepreneur, agent, broker and a steady hand at whatever he does. Would he give up his many enterprises for being a corporate man/insider startup CEO? Odds 50 to 1 that he would take the position. He has too much going on.
Nataly Kogan or Michael Smith are co-founders of StreetEasy, which they sold to Zillow. They know how to successfully build listing software. Hey, they did it in New York. Odds 300 to 1 either one would take it, as they have both moved on from real estate.
Joel Singer is the CEO of the California Association of Realtors (CAR); he’s an innovator on all fronts and knows the politics of this risky venture. This CAR lifer might choose to make one last industry contribution. Odds 80 to 1 that he would take the job.
Sherry Chris is the CEO of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate. Hiring a woman would be a symbolic gesture that this effort isn’t just about old suits trying to regain footing with the real estate rebels and innovators. Odds 200 to 1 that she would even consider taking the job, however.
Alex Lange is the operating partner at NAR-backed Second City Ventures, and previously he was at Market Leader and Roost. Odds 5 to 1 that he would take the job.
Brian Boero is the co-founder of 1000watt. As a consultant, he is constantly navigating the personalities of these assorted groups, he once ran a software company and he was president of Inman for many years, though that might hurt his chances. Odds 90 to 1 that he would take the job.
Jeff Lobb is a consultant, speaker, trainer and coach, and he is a former vice president for EXIT Realty. Odds 5 to 1 that he would take the position.
Michele Serro is the founder of Doorsteps, which she sold to Move. She knows the industry and understands software development. Odds 42 to 1 that she would take the job.
Greg Schwartz is the chief business officer of Zillow, Inc. No one else in history has almost single-handedly built a bigger online listing database than Schwarz. Odds are 600,000 to 1 that he would take the position.
Rene Galvan is executive vice president of the Houston Association of Realtors, a long-time and dependable wing man for HAR CEO Bob Hale. Loyal, dedicated and smart, he embodies progressive ideas and understands solid execution. Odds are 175 to 1 he would consider leaving Hale and the HAR community.
Who would you pick?