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Hyping Short-Term Tech Under The Gauzy Lights of Vegas

Apr 20, 2017 Michael Wurzer

Zillow is undoubtedly providing a good party for lots of MLS leaders in Las Vegas this week, including many of our customers. I love a good party and I applaud Zillow for reaching out to MLSs to educate them on their solutions.

What I’m not so fond of is the short-term technical direction being pushed by Zillow simply because they’ve decided they’re in a race with Upstream. Look, I get it, Zillow doesn’t want to see a repeat of the Listhub debacle and so countering Upstream is important to them.

To do that, Zillow bought Bridge Interactive, which has a product called Compose that Bridge created many years ago to solve a problem in Atlanta where there are two MLSs requiring duplicate entry of listings. Zillow’s thinking is that because Compose is being used in Atlanta and a few other markets, they can use it to beat Upstream to the punch and corner the broker listing management market.

But this strategy is a purely short-term play that benefits only Zillow and is a really bad idea for everyone else involved, especially MLS vendors like FBS. The reason is that Bridge’s Compose product uses an old version of RETS update that soon will be replaced by the new RESO Web API update. Implementing both the old and the new update method at this stage simply wastes valuable time and energy and distracts everyone from the long-term solution.

I was super-excited to read the other day that Upstream is willing to work with MLSs to implement a robust sync API. This is the right approach and RESO is actively developing such an update standard. Zillow, Upstream (via RPR), FBS, Black Knight, Docusign, Redfin, and several other key vendors are all involved in creating this new specification for all vendors instead of just catering to one.

Again, I understand Zillow’s desire to beat Upstream to the punch. But we owe a duty to our customers and the industry not to get caught up in all the hype like the press release Zillow issued today saying that, among others, Georgia MLS and First MLS in Atlanta are using Compose to enter listings, which I’m pretty sure has been the case for about ten years. That’s old news, not a new development.

The reality is that there is no emergency here, no fire in the theater, and no reason to shove a short-term solution down the industry’s throat. I’m looking forward to seeing Zillow, Upstream, and many others at the RESO meetings next week in Austin so we can move forward with a long-term solution that benefits our entire industry.