Bob Bemis: My First Day at Zillow

It’s been a long time since I went to a new school.  I can remember the anxiety like it was yesterday.  New teachers to get to know; new schedule, new classes, new rooms, new friends to make (I hope).  Today feels a lot like that.  Today I start a new job with Zillow as Vice President Partner Relations.

I left a warm, comfortable, cozy position as CEO of a major market MLS — the big fish in a small pond, if you measure business ponds by revenue or earnings.  I left the 300+ days of annual Phoenix sunshine for the damp climes of Seattle (are you nuts?).  Frankly, I think the rainfall legend is exaggerated.  We were house hunting for three days last week and it only rained on two of them, a far cry from “every day” like we had been warned.

The first of many sunny days at Zillow for Bob.

I’m starting today with Zillow — the leading real estate information marketplace — as a smaller fish in a very BIG pond.  And it feels like the first day of school.  Where’s my desk? The coffee machine?  The restrooms? (At my age, restroom location is a vital data point.)  Getting checked in/out on a new laptop, cell phone, security access card, email, voicemail, company policies.  All necessary, but I’m eager to get started.

I’m coming to Zillow to try something that I’ve never done before.  I am going to try to move the meter of public opinion about Zillow by actually moving to Zillow.  There is real opportunity here, opportunity to effect major change in our industry by altering the relationships between brokers, agents, MLSs, Realtor associations, franchisors, even broker alliances, and the third-party companies that are often described derisively and collectively with terms not worth repeating.

One does not move public opinion with empty words or unfulfilled expectations.  One does it by following a minor variation of the time tested outline for public speaking: tell them what you’re going to do; do it; tell them what you just did.  Reputations are changed by action, by deeds, by creating value propositions and consistently delivering on the brand promise.  It takes original ideas, imagination, dedication to quality, and the stamina to deliver.  Zillow has all of those traits in its DNA and that’s why I’m here.

As my new title implies, I will be concentrating on creating relationships with partners, even partners who may not yet know they could be partners. They will soon enough.  If you want to know more, please take my call when I phone and I’ll explain.  If you invite me to visit your organization and talk with your principals, I can detail the value Zillow can deliver to your agents, subscribers, members, franchises, or stockholders.  I can show you how we can both be stronger by working together.  And when I arrive, don’t be surprised if the first question is “Where’s the restroom?”

I hope to talk to you soon.