Keller Williams’ big annual gathering — which this year is taking place online — comes at a pivotal time for the company. Check out all of Inman’s Deep Dive on KW’s Mega Camp.

All week, Inman is taking a Deep Dive into Keller Williams. We’re talking to key executives, unpacking its strategic moves and reporting live from the virtual KW Mega Camp, with the goal of telling you everything you need to know about KW right now. Watch for future Inman Deep Dives into top brokerages coming in the months ahead.

Keller Williams is at a crossroads.

Though the company is not the oldest or biggest in real estate, it has in recent years put itself out there in ways that few others have. From Gary Keller’s pivot to calling Keller Williams a technology company to a slew of recent executive appointments, the company is clearly playing to win. And that has made Keller Williams something of a standard bearer for established brands bushwhacking their way into the next era of real estate.

This week, the company will offer a glimpse into the way it plans to take on that journey when it gathers for its annual Mega Camp event. Though initially planned as an in-person gathering, this year’s Mega Camp was moved online earlier this month thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Inman is attending each day, and will specifically be keeping an eye out for commentary on how Keller Williams envisions it strategy at this pivotal time.

Here are four questions we’ll specifically be looking out for:

1. Will Keller Williams go public?

Rumors have swirled for some time now that Keller Williams plans to begin selling shares to the public. That would be news for any big company in any industry, but the issue in this particular case is complicated by the fact that some rivals — eXp Realty and Compass most notably, but also smaller upstarts such as the Real Brokerage — use stock options as a major component of agent compensation.

That means a potential Keller Williams initial public offering (IPO) is about much more than just raising cash. Instead, it has to do with how Keller Williams competes with other brokerages, attracts high-performing agents and positions itself in the pantheon of big real estate companies.

In other words, Keller Williams’ ultimate strategy when it comes to an IPO will speak to how it exists relative to rivals — which is not always so explicitly the case with other companies. When Google went public, for example, the move wasn’t framed in terms of how the company was trying to keep software engineers from decamping to Yahoo.

Inman has repeatedly asked Keller Williams about an IPO, and company executives — including President Marc King just days ago — have repeatedly said they haven’t made any final decisions. So it’s unlikely Mega Camp this year will include a definitive statement about going public. But we will be watching for clues about company strategy, staffing, technology and other issues that might hint at which way the wind is blowing.

Key sessions to watch:

Wednesday, Aug. 25: General session with Gary Keller and other executives. 11 a.m. EDT

Thursday, Aug. 26: General session with Marc King and others. 11 a.m. EDT

2. Is the market heading for tough times?

As King told Inman leading into Mega Camp, Keller Williams has “tons of data” on what’s going on in the market right now. King also said he doesn’t expect a crash, though the price appreciation of the last year can’t continue forever.

The first half of 2021 was generally a good one for real estate. Though there were persistent inventory problems in much of the U.S. — leading to some agent exhaustion, among other things — those agents who managed to close deals generally did well thanks to soaring prices. And while active supply was consistently low, as King pointed out the number of sold homes has actually ticked up — meaning determined buyers are still finding properties.

At the same time, there have been hints for months that something of a shift may be coming.

As a result, Mega Camp represents the chance to get a deep dive into what a big, data-rich company sees on the horizon. It’s not a crystal ball, but it’s perhaps as close as industry observers are going to get.

Key sessions to watch:

Tuesday, Aug. 24: General session with Gary Keller, Chief Economist Ruben Gonzalez and others. 11 a.m. EDT

Tuesday, Aug. 24: Breakouts Round 1: Lead Generation in a High-Demand Market. 2:20 p.m. EDT

Tuesday, Aug. 24: Breakouts Round 2: The Changing Needs of Luxury. 3:15 p.m. EDT

Wednesday, Aug. 25: Breakouts Round 4: Diamonds in the Rough: Uncover Investment Deals in the Market of the Moment. 3:15 p.m. EDT

Thursday, Aug. 26: General session with Marc King and others. 11 a.m. EDT

4. What’s up with COVID-19?

Questions surrounding COVID-19 are related to the state of the market, but also distinct. After all, Keller Williams had to move Mega Camp online thanks to the pandemic, and Inman will be watching to see not just what the outbreak might do to the economy but also how Keller Williams sees it impacting the day-to-day work of agents.

For instance, will this fall be dominated by virtual tours and video conferencing? Or will in-person events and real-world open houses reign supreme. Are lockdowns coming back?

In other words, Mega Camp may represent a chance to consider how long and how severe pandemic life may ultimately be.

Key sessions to watch:

Tuesday, Aug. 24: Breakouts Round 1: The New Normal for Client Events. 2:20 p.m. EDT

Tuesday, Aug. 24: Breakouts Round 2: Above and Beyond: Helping Your Buyers Succeed in a Seller’s Market. 3:15 p.m. EDT

Wednesday, Aug. 25: Breakouts Round 3: Future Perfect: The Post-Pandemic Market Center. 2:20 p.m. EDT

3. Who steers the ship?

Keller Williams has seen a fair amount of executive shuffling in recent years, most recently with the departure of Josh Team — who had been president since January 2019. Prior to serving as president, Team had been Keller Williams’ chief innovation officer, and in both roles had become a prominent public face at the company as it worked to beef up its technological footprint.

Prior to Team’s departure, Keller Williams also hired Carl Liebert last October to serve as the CEO of holding company KWx. And after Team left, Keller Williams elevated King to serve as president.

In that context, any leadership hires or changes generally that could come at Mega Camp would offer insights into Keller Williams’ strategy. It is significant, for example, that Team had a tech background but King worked his way up the ranks and has a background as an agent. The two leaders’ differing backgrounds hint at what skill sets Keller Williams believes it needs at the helm of the ship — and the same will be true for any future hires.

Of course, Keller Williams’ top spots were recently filled, but potential staffing announcements at any leadership level will be worth keeping an eye on.

Key sessions to watch:

Tuesday, Aug. 24: General session. 11 a.m. EDT

Wednesday, Aug. 25: General session. 11 a.m. EDT

Thursday, Aug. 26: General session. 11 a.m. EDT

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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