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Activerain.com v. Move.com: The Duplicity at Activerain.com

In an effort to placate angry users, Active Rain announces that the content is owned by the author; not the network. This isolates the membership roster as the only valuable asset in the failed sales to Move.com

The platform is not proprietary, the content was never owned (and couldn’t legally be “sold”), and the points scheme is not unique; Gather.com and Yahoo!Answers use similar systems. So…The membership roster seems to be the $33 million asset.

Six hundred bucks a name. Wow! So it was just a membership play, huh? I’m not buying that. I think the content clarification announcement is kind of like closing the barn door after the horse ran away. I think Active Rain fully intended to profit off of my words but I don’t care.

Today, Jon Washburn defines the future after he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. His pandering to the members neglects to recognize the members’ need for the network. He should have said, “Hey! I did it for the money!”  Could Move.com have profited off the 50,000 users? Certainly, most of the content would have stayed. Here’s why: The members’ motives for blogging on Active Rain were in line with the owners of the network’s motivation- Money.

Now, as a raving fan of the network, I’m prone to blurt the childish socialist mantra, “It’s MY community!” like any other happy Active Rainer. However, deep in the bowels of my conscience, the truth persists like a nagging mother.

You and I used Active Rain. We did it for the money. We did it for the allure of our names on the top of the search engines, for the leads that were sent our way, for the networking opportunities that materialized, and for the warm happy, fuzzy feeling that we got when we engaged in an activity that felt like marketing. You used Active Rain and I used Active Rain and that is perfectly fine.

What isn’t fine, is that Active Rainers are pissed that the boys wanted to set up their grandchildren with Move.com’s largesse.

Everybody knew that the network was not making money. One look around and you could see that there was no revenue generator. Even an unlicensed loan originator could do the math and understand that the oxygen was getting scarce in the biosphere that is Active Rain.

Cum finis est licitus, etiam media sunt licita. The ends justify the means. If Active Rain were sold to Move.com tomorrow, I’d most likely be out on the street; I’m no Realtor. Move.com would sell the rights to write articles to Countrywide or some other big mortgage company with deeper pockets than mine. I’m one the the top five mortgage contributors to the Network but I’m still not bitter.

I asked these nagging questions back in November of 2006. It was clear to me then what is materializing to Active Rainers today- Matt Heaton and Jon Washburn want to get rich off of my intellectual property. They may sell the network to Zillow.com, they may syndicate blog feeds to Redfin.com, they may syndicate my content to Countrywide or Wells Fargo. I’m cool with that. Let’s just be honest and admit that to each other.

I got’s mine, they’re just tryin’ to gets their’s – Good luck in the monetization, boys.

Oh, while I did it for the money, I have met a lot of nice people along the way.
 


Our story so far: Trying to keep up with developments in the ActiveRain/Move saga? These are all the BloodhoundBlog posts to date:

Related posts:
  • ActiveRain.com v. Move.com: The Nagging Question
  • More gratuitous gloating: I’m two-for-two for the weekend.
  • ActiveRain.com v. Move.com: Where’s Caleb?

  • 29 comments

    29 Comments so far

    1. Sarah Cooper September 29th, 2007 5:04 pm

      OUCH!! That is one thing I hadn’t considered at all in a sale, that mortgage people (or any of our members) might be “replaced” with a contract from a more profitable source.

      The very idea turns my stomach. I think the rest of us would rebel like you wouldn’t believe. They’d ban me for the fuss I’d make them endure.

    2. Neal Bloom September 29th, 2007 5:38 pm

      I was a bit surprised. I was speaking with some of them two days before the anouncement and had no idea…would be pretty funny to wake up in the morning to a new ownership. Money talks ..b-t walks

    3. Brian Brady September 29th, 2007 5:57 pm

      “They’d ban me for the fuss I’d make them endure.”

      and that may happen to me for revealing the truth behind the plan. So be it.

      Thanks for being courageous, Sarah and expressing your opinion. Our compatriots at Active Rain are too scared to face to community’s wrath by asking the hard questions.

    4. Kevin Tomlinson September 29th, 2007 6:02 pm

      Come on.

      We all used ActiveRain for our benefit. For the people who didn’t use it to their full advantage was as Greg says “stoopid.”

      Anybody who would be angry with AR for entertaining the the possibility of selling is not in reality.

      Whatever your opinion of AR is, it has its followers, it has membership, and die hard fans.

      I never begrudge anyone their right to make a living or capitalize on a great idea. So what if AR sells. It doesn’t say ANYWHERE on ActiveRain that they are a non-profit.

      Is Greg Swann a lawyer?

      The court of public opinion will NOT decide the outcome of the lawsuit, the court of LAW will.

      I’m sure that will make all the bloggers REALLY mad.

    5. Chris Griffith September 29th, 2007 6:08 pm

      Hey, I opened my big mouth on more than a few other subjects and have since gotten the silent treatment. I just do like I do now. I also posted on the Official Active Rain blog today:

      **Devils Advocate: So at the end of a battle royale with Move.com, if Active Rain were to lose, could Move take over and own all of the content? Their purse is huge, they can just litigate to the death, no? **

      There was no comment back. (silent treatment)

    6. Kaye Thomas September 29th, 2007 6:48 pm

      Brian.. We may all be banned.. who knows what the future will bring.. I think I agree with you.. But then I’m easy.. I just want to be published.. and it was free and I’ve benefited greatly by being on Active Rain.

      The kicker was that they weren’t quite honest..While most of us knew they were not doing this because they are just an incredibly altruistic bunch of guys. It would have been better if they had just been upfront about what they were doing. Heck I probably would have signed an agreement if they promised to publish me forever and get me big Google ratings.

      I have no pride.. or shame.. I can be bought…make me an offer…

    7. Brian Brady September 29th, 2007 7:13 pm

      “I have no pride.. or shame.. I can be bought…make me an offer”

      Ditto

    8. Laurie Manny September 29th, 2007 7:50 pm

      Geez, How the heck am I supposed to get any work done this weekend. Swamped with business and the best soap opera ever is going on here.

      Anybody who didn’t know that AR was going to be sold is an idiot. I think they should sell it and are certainly entitled to, but geez louise, Realtor.shlock? Pleeeeez gimme a break.

      I have less to lose than most. If I deleted everything AR and Localism I would still have 1st page placement several times over. That does not mean I want to delete. You see I like having 1st page placement from the assortment of sites that I currently have that going on with. ActiveRain and Localism are nice gravy for me, and I like the network.

      Ardell, stop picking on Brian.

    9. Tracey Thomas September 29th, 2007 8:49 pm

      As Realtors, we own the content and we own our listings…but if we don’t have a place to market this information then it doesn’t do us much good. We will always need platforms to “share” our information.

      For the members of AR that don’t have their own outside blog, shame on you. If you didn’t learn this from AR, then what were you reading? Its NOT just about social networking, it’s about the money… or is everyone’s last name Getty?

    10. Linda Davis September 30th, 2007 4:47 am

      I’ve been reading this stuff for the last 2 days on every blog that is debating the subject. The words that most describe what I’m feeling are Laurie’s:

      Anybody who didn’t know that AR was going to be sold is an idiot. I think they should sell it and are certainly entitled to, but geez louise, Realtor.shlock? Pleeeeez gimme a break.

      Carnac has been predicting this for months but even he didn’t think it would be Realtor.com. Ick.

    11. Neal Bloom September 30th, 2007 5:32 am

      I agree with Lauries assumptions.companies are bought out every day and without notice to employees and or members..it is a way of business. I have seen it in companies I worked for so was I surpised…yes a bit..but..not so shocked after the fact…if someone offered each and everyone of you 30 mil…you can’t possibly tell me you would filed the offer even if you were not allowed to tell the members..please! What’s done is done. Is it the grestest news to the members here? probably not…but they own it..we don’t…its free and we should be grateful we have been able to ride for free. Don’t take it for granted just because daddy says you can’t have the candy today and you were expecting it like always.

    12. Jonathan Dalton September 30th, 2007 9:09 am

      Shouldn’t I post this comment on AR so I can get my 25 points? Boy, I’m an idiot.

      What amazed (stunned, sickened, floored) me was the general reaction – how dare they do this to you! There only were a handful of folks who seemed to realize that something was being down to us, too.

      Well, us in a collective sense. My last post was to send traffic to my own blog. I surrendered on AR once and for all as a viable outlet for my business.

      Reading my own reaction on my own blog, maybe I did come off as naive … sure didn’t mean to. I’m just tired of companies making a buck off the real estate set, be it the lead generators or the online hucksters, whatever.

      Get your own server. Your audience will follow. Much, much easier.

    13. Rhonda Porter September 30th, 2007 11:11 am

      My posting on AR has really dwindled down… I’m really “out of it” when it comes to the drama I’m reading about over at AR and it does not make me want to head on over to AR earn some points posting a blog.

      I’ll stick with RCG and my blog.

    14. Agent Scoreboard September 30th, 2007 11:44 am

      It’s incredible, the rumors of this deal have been floating around for months. There was NEVER any interest in the content. Christ who would want most of whats on AR? Who would check the facts, or correct the grammar.

      I’m not aware of any blogging platform that has syndicated its members content. I’d like to see an example of that.

      It was always about realtor eyeballs, move has a better ad network and could monetize AR’s traffic better than AR could.

      AR as little consumer visitors, localism was a failed enterprise, but if you could couple that with listing content, now there maybe something.

    15. Thesa Chambers | Sunriver Real Estate September 30th, 2007 12:00 pm

      Very insightful – I too expected this and am not sure why the uproar – the amount of time these people put into this site – and for what? For us to succeed? They are giving people but come on we all need money to make it… I side with our founders of AR -

    16. Kevin Tomlinson September 30th, 2007 12:05 pm

      Agent Scoreboard:

      You are so right on the money, on all counts.

      A merger with someone is the most interesting move (pardon the pun) to take two platforms to the next level.

      I’ve always thought that having listings on AR was the key. It seemed that the powers that be were not really focused on getting the listings.

    17. [...] With that, the long list: Brian Brady — Debunking Guttentag, Debunking GuttentagDustin Luther — Make an impact, 7 Ways to Make an ImpactRon Ares — Rent vs buy, Addressing the Rent vs. Buy ConundrumKelly Roark — Agent 2.0, Agent 2.0: not-so-clever play on ‘Web 2.0’ or the future of real estate marketing?Dan Melson — Sellers pays commissions, Why the Real Estate Buyers Agent’s Commission is Paid by the SellerJonathan Dalton — Princess will come, Someday My Princess Will Come…Daniel Rothamel — Facebook, Why Your Answer to, “Are You on Facebook?” Will Determine the Fate of Your Business in 10 Years or SoonerBrian Brady — AR wuz robbed, Active Rain Wuz RobbedMorgan Brown — Mortgage fraud, When people get desperate, all bets are off.Brian Brady — Advertising to Ashley, Advertising to AshleyKevin Boer — Reaping the fruits, Reaping The Fruits Of Others’ Labor? Or Adding Value To It?Jeff Brown — Little things, Real Estate Investors — The Little Things Count — Big TimeSteve Leung — Hidden factors, Hidden Factors When Calculating a Home’s ValueBrian Brady — NAR and lending, Can the NAR Improve a Buyer’s Financing Experience?Larry Cragun — Foxtons, A Darling Of Discount Real Estate Rides Into The SunsetBrian Wilson — Redfin, [Redfin] “I coulda been a contender…”Jeff Brown — Double-edged sword, Double-Edged Sword — OR — Planning & Discipline — What Does Your Retirement Look Like?Jillayne Schlicke — Deceptive advertising, Deceptive Radio Advertising in Mortgage LendingMorgan Brown — Housing glut, Housing Glut, Lennar Revenue off 44%, Other GoodiesDan Green — Visa credit scoring, How Visa USA Tried To Scare Us All Into Using Its Credit Scoring Web SiteBrian Brady — Using AR for profit, Activerain.com v. Move.com: The Duplicity at Activerain.comKevin Boer — Foxtons/AR/Move, Today’s Real Estate Gossip: Move.com Does A Microsoft; Foxtons Does A CountrywideGreg Kilwein — Wireless MLS, Wireless Usage On The RiseBrian Brady — Jumping off a cliff, Small Steps Today Prevent Jumping Off A Cliff TomorrowBill Leider — Opportunity costs, Internet Marketing And Opportunity Cost – Connecting The DotsDan Green — Data is granular, Why Real Estate Data Is Granular And Not Mosaic, Or One More Reason To Stop Reading Real Estate HeadlinesJoel Burslem — ActiveRain/Move, Move.com Tried to Buy ActiveRainErik Hersman — RealUmbrella, Creating the Ultimate Real Estate DisintermediatorDan Melson — NegAm loans, Trying to Rehabilitate the Negative Amortization Loan – NOT!Doug Quance — How low?, Ask The Broker: How Much Below The List Price Should We Offer?Patrick Kapowich — Realtor licensing, Inside the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors’ Convention. Buyer beware? No. It’s Licensees Beware.Trevor Curran — Old is the new new, Everything That Was OLD is NEW again.Morgan Brown — FHA bailout, A Bail Out is Still a Bail Out by Any Other NameDan Green — Fed Funds Rate, How Setting The Fed Funds Rate Is Like Shooting Free Throws With Your Eyes ClosedTeri Lussier — Huber Heights 2.0, My life online and how you too, can create a Huber Heights 2.0Jonathan Dalton — Real estate 2.0, Real Estate 2.0 and the Phoenix Real Estate ConsumerJim Watkins — Down market?, Down Sales Market? Think Outside the BoxMichael Wurzer — Standards and monopolies, Good Standards Break Monopolies, Not Make ThemRussell Shaw — Foxtons, Foxtons Almost Gone – About to Become a Footnote in Real Estate HistoryJonathan Dalton — Sgt. Hulka, Sergeant Hulka and the Phoenix Real Estate Agent [...]

    18. Brian Brady September 30th, 2007 12:16 pm

      “A merger with someone is the most interesting move”

      Absolutely, Kevin. I’ve never begrudged the owners that luxury, in fact, I’ve encouraged it:
      http://www.bloodhoundrealty.com/BloodhoundBlog/?p=1474

      A merge of existing technologies creates a Realtor-centric platform that can talk to the consumer. Consumers don’t read real estate blogs but they do like stats and listings.

    19. Laurie Manny September 30th, 2007 12:22 pm

      I am curious Agent Scoreboard, you stated:

      AR as little consumer visitors, localism was a failed enterprise…

      Where did you acquire that information? Can you share it?

    20. Marc Blasi September 30th, 2007 12:28 pm

      I wish I’d gotten here earlier…

      The people that were shocked by this are just a bit light in the grey matter department.

      AR had to make some money somewhere along the line – they they didn’t create the site as a damn hobby!

      AR is far from perfect – and I’ve certainly complained (and with my big mouth, I’m sure I’ll keep going).

      BUT… it was and still is free and a lot of people have benefited from it.

    21. Kevin Tomlinson September 30th, 2007 12:50 pm

      Good question, Laurie.

    22. Agent Scoreboard September 30th, 2007 1:32 pm

      Laurie,

      Have you seen localism lately? Vague, redundant content, zero ads. Alexa has it ranked in the 6 digits, not that Alexa is reliable, but if they had been generating money, we would have heard about it. I’ve never heard anyone say, “Hey i’m getting a ton of leads from localism”.

      Whats more it just seems like the platform was dying, i’ve not seen any enhancements to it in quite a while.

      As for AR not have many consumer vistors, well thats pretty much common knowledge. They’ve tried to build ad network around consumers but had no biters because they couldn’t show true consumer traffic. Oh sure they have some, but not on the scale of zillow, trulia, or realtor.com. Consumers want to see listings, not read the ramblings of real estate agents.

      AR is a great platform for agents, and could still be great. Boys there are some other buyers… FNF and FATCO are always buying… and they’ll kick the crap out of MOVE anyday, well maybe not FATCO… but they have plenty of $$. Oh and they hate the MOVE folks…

    23. Jonathan Washburn September 30th, 2007 2:35 pm

      Agent Scoreboard,

      You are incorrect about the lack of consumer traffic on ActiveRain.

      Since you used alexa.com as your basis in your comment, I will reference them here as well.

      Please review the graph located at this URL:
      http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?site0=activerain.com&site1=century21.com&site2=coldwellbanker.com&site3=remax.com&y=r&z=3&h=400&w=700&range=3y&size=Large&url=activerain.com

      You will see that according to Alexa, ActiveRain has more visitors than Century21.com, ColdwellBanker.com, or Remax.com. All three of the comparable sites are supported by multi million dollar ad campaigns!

      Here is another graph comparing ActiveRain’s traffic to the big three you mentioned in your comment, Realtor.com, Zillow, and Trulia.
      http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?site0=activerain.com&site1=zillow.com&site2=trulia.com&site3=realtor.com&y=r&z=3&h=400&w=700&range=1y&size=Large&url=activerain.com

      You will see that ActiveRain has close to half the reach of Realtor.com and Zillow, and is comparable to Trulia, and is the only site with a positive growth trajectory over the last year.

      Regarding percentage of consumer traffic, ActiveRain generates over 3/4 of its traffic from search engines. It is pretty safe to assume that a great majority of the search traffic is consumers.

      (It should be noted that Alexa is often times horribly inaccurate site to reference traffic trends from.)

      Localism in it’s current state is lame. We are working on an entire site redesign. We have always said, “ignore Localism in it’s current state, right now it is just acting as a proof of concept and content placeholder” I will tell you however, that what we are building for Localism rocks!

    24. Bob in San Diego September 30th, 2007 4:17 pm

      “You will see that according to Alexa, ActiveRain has more visitors than Century21.com, ColdwellBanker.com, or Remax.com. All three of the comparable sites are supported by multi million dollar ad campaigns!”

      Jonathon, we both know how skewed Alexa is. We also both know that it is skewed towards AR because many of its users are more likely to be tracked by Alexa than the typical C21, CB or ReMax visitor, which is mostly consumers.

      Nice try, but it doesn’t fly.

    25. Agent Scoreboard September 30th, 2007 6:22 pm

      Johnathan,

      I wasn’t talking about AR, but localism… you guys have done a great job getting traffic to AR, although I still believe most of it is b2b aka realtors. Just because it comes from the search engines doesn’t mean its from consumers. Its could be agents looking for post or information… they use google too.

      If you want to put a torpedo in MOVE’s side call Marty Frame over at FNF/Cyberhomes, Foley hates the Homestore/Move crew… and would gladly like to sink MOVES ship. The deal won’t be close to $30M but they have all the weapons you’ll need to make some money out of this. In fact I know a great M&A guy that could help you with that, shoot me an email and I’ll give you his contact info.

    26. 360Digest » Lessons from the tribe October 1st, 2007 12:17 am

      [...] Activerain.com v. Move.com: The Duplicity at Activerain.com [...]

    27. [...] What does this have to do with ActiveRain? The sweet folks at ActiveRain have managed to convince themselves that talking about inside baseball to their good-time buddies will result in SEO traffic that will turn into money for them. This might actually be true, but it seems certain to me that, erg for erg, their energies could have been much better spent. ActiveRain argues that its search results prove it has consumer traffic, but the bounce rates on that traffic are going to be enormous. The people spending one minute or more per visit, or viewing two or more pages per visit, are almost certainly real estate professionals. [...]

    28. La Jolla Agent January 9th, 2008 1:41 pm

      It’s so sad how things work, but it will hopefully begin to change very soon. I see no problem with what AR has done, but I see how people can feel a bit jilted.

    29. [...] Activerain.com v. Move.com: The Duplicity at Activerain.com [...]