There’s always something to howl about

Glenn Kelman at Inman – He Hits a Home Run

I don’t know what in the hell is going on now. I just watched the video of Glenn Kelman speaking at the Inman Event and found myself liking Glenn Kelman. I know, I just wrote that. He was funny, remarkably candid and made a lot of good points. Have I changed any views I have regarding Redfin? No, and I really doubt that every time Greg Swann writes about him it is “good for business”, as he claimed. But setting aside any thoughts I have about the Redfin business model, I doubt I will ever view Glenn, the person, the same way again. In the past, I have tended to demonize him when talking about him or what he has done – and I really don’t like ad hominem attacks.

I wrote in the headline that he hit a home run. It wasn’t out of the park (I got that line from Jeff Brown) but still, a home run. As I have been so willing to say what I didn’t like, I thought it only fair to also say what I did.


11 Comments so far

  1. Brian Brady August 3rd, 2007 1:29 am

    No doubt. GK was likeable.

  2. Reuben Moore August 3rd, 2007 6:03 am

    So, if I understand you, you are saying Kelman is likeable and candid, but his business model is dubious…?

    Greg might have to help me here with the advanced logic (I am but a simple real estate agent), but there seems to be a disconnect somewhere. Surely, this likeable and candid fellow is largely responsible for the charade called Redfin…?

  3. Kris Berg August 3rd, 2007 6:31 am

    Glenn and Cynthia are both extremely nice, make no mistake.

  4. Steve Berg August 3rd, 2007 7:04 am

    George W. Bush may be a nice guy, too. That doesn’t eliminate the fact that he misguided.

  5. Cathleen Collins August 3rd, 2007 8:09 am

    I had the same positive reaction, Russ. Kelman comes across as an affable, charming man. When Kris interviewed him, she described him as a

    passionate entrepreneur who genuinely believes in his work. He struck me as honest and sincere

    But, despite his engaging, aw-shucks-I’m-just-a-regular-nerdy-kinda-guy pose, what he’s saying about you when he’s not talking to your face gives me the impression that this is one guileful man. There was that preying mantis stunt last year, that I believe was retracted from Redfin’s blog, so I haven’t gone back to find it. And then Kelman’s quote to the LA Times

    “Regular folks resent what agents charge. Soon the industry will be seen as bad as Big Oil or the tobacco companies.”

    And there’s more. All the things large and small. It’s the accretion of incidents that demonstrate he’s not trustworthy. Marlow Harris has summed it up

    Kelman seems like a nice guy, and I bet he’s a blast at parties, but in his enthusiasm for his business model and his role as the Rebel CEO, he omits the truth about his business model, which is that it is non-profitable.

  6. Greg Swann August 3rd, 2007 8:26 am

    > George W. Bush may be a nice guy, too. That doesn’t eliminate the fact that he misguided.

    I’ve always thought George H. W. and Barbara Bush would be great neighbors: All the best power tools and always available to babysit. 😉

  7. Lani August 3rd, 2007 3:08 pm

    Cathleen- you nailed it. When professing love OR hate for any individual or business, there’s usually an underbelly that we easily forget or don’t know about.

    That being said, KUDOS to Russell for stepping up to plate with a compliment- it’s easier to rant than praise, so great work!

  8. Glenn Kelman August 5th, 2007 10:10 am

    Thank you Russell, for your kind words. You made my day.

  9. terry mcdonald August 8th, 2007 8:28 pm

    I too found Glenn likable and not someone whose likeness I’d like to stick a pin in 🙂 and I know he is a smart guy.

    I just don’t buy his basic argument– that salaried folk, even well paid ones, will go to work for a client on the buy side or the sell side, and do a better job than one on commission. I think this was Inman’s point as well, it has never been the case in the past, the difference between order taker sales people and the sales professional is vast and no amount of technology changes this.

    Some agents do work the way Gelman believes– a slow sloppy response to a client inquiry, show them some property, and overall add little value to the transaction. These order taker agents could very well be replaced by a better professional, salaried is an option. But the commission structure typically weeds this type out fairly quickly.

    The reason the high quality agent is hired, is because clients have a high degree of trust and confidence in their competence, and they know they’ll need that when it comes to making their final decision. My customers wouldn’t trade that relationship for a customer service relationship in the high stakes zero sum game of real estate.

    As far as Gelman’s arguments about the University studies comparing the consumer experience of salaried or commission agents, in his view favoring the salaried profession, I’d love to get a link to that… because I am sure there is something missing.

    Gelman said he had a 2.5% share of the Seattle market, to Scott’s 17%… maybe 2.5% of the market is the right number for their model.

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  11. Shannon Perry February 28th, 2008 11:12 am

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