Inman Innovator Awards- WTF?

With any awards announcement there will be debate and discussion, agreement and disbelief, and the Inman Innovator Awards (winners announced last week) are no different. I think some of their choices were either politically driven, or just they screwed up.

For instance;

Most Innovative Brokerage/Franchise/Realtor- and the winner is…

Re/Max

(crickets chirping)

Are you kidding me? Re/max is the most innovative brokerage? In what way? They just recently included all broker listings on remax.com (about two years after everyone else did). This pick has got to be political because it’s really stupid.

The founder and chairman of Re/Max, Dave Liniger just said that the internet is overvalued– and this is the most innovative company?

My pick would be ZipRealty– The have been cutting edge since inception. There are things about Zip that I don’t like, but they are very innovative.

Most Innovative Technology- and the winner is…

CellSigns

This product is fine- it will send a text message to the agent’s cell phone when a buyer calls on their for sale sign. Companies have been sending the callers phone number to the agents for over a decade. How can this possibly be the most innovative product they could find?

If lead generation tools are what they’re looking for, why not leadalarm? This service will convert an email lead into voice and then call your cell phone immediately, and allow you to be instantly connected to that lead.

Inman gave it to NRT’s Leadrouter a year or two ago and LeadRouter doesn’t connect the agent to the lead. It just gives you the information (and then you have to be frustrated trying to keep the system satisfied with updates).

Or what about Redfin’s mapping system? Everyone’s got a map now, including BlueRoof, but Redfin’s is smoother, richer, and the information around it is better than anyone else’s by far. The technology they built is far superior to CellSigns.

Innovator of the Year- and the winner is…

Mark Lesswing, Vice President, National Association of REALTORS

This has got to be a political award- last year they gave it to Earl Lee from Prudential. And this year it goes to NAR’s tech guy? Give me a break!

In 2006 no one person brought more innovation into the industry directly or indirectly than Rich Barton of Zillow.

I don’t think Zillow is that wonderful- yet. Right now I think it’s just a fun way of checking out other people’s homes, but the anticipation of it and the excitement it brought to the tech world and the real estate world shouldn’t be overlooked. Plus the innovation of Zillow is undeniable. Talk about a grand endeavor.

Rich: I want to get into real estate

Listener: That might be interesting. What would you do?

Rich: Create a database of every residential property in the country, giving an estimate of the properties worth and projections about it’s potential worth.

Listener: … uh, yeah… okay Rich. I need to go now. Good luck with that.

Hey, I like to think of myself as a visionary and I have moments of inspiration, but Rich Barton has inspired millions of real estate and tech people to drive themselves harder to be more innovative. He deserves the award- period.

As I said, any award will be questioned and complained about… but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

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