FindTheBest.com is a research engine. Founded by former Double Click (Double Click was sold for 1.1B in 2005and later to Google for $3.1B ) CEO, Kevin O'Connor. Four years and seven verticals later, FindTheBest.com has compiled data and grown their research engine with over 59 billion facts to date. O'Connor has jumped with both feet into the real estate search arena. The launch, this week, profiles them as a serious contender in the real estate search arena offering deeper information in key areas current players Trulia and Zillow do not address. The play in real estate? Homes.FindTheBest.com
The goal is clear; to be the single resource serious real estate consumers use when looking for critical information to aide in their location selection and home search. To help consumers "Think Like a Real Estate Expert" as is stated on the home page of their site. FindTheBest has been collecting information on neighborhoods and amenities for the past four years and have recently cemented partnerships with both CoreLogic and ListHub offering a complete solution in the property search arena.
Move, Inc's recent withdrawal last week from portal search, (to focus on "key metrics" per VP of Marketing, Barbara O'Connor), could have been to make room for this licensing deal and optimize revenue accelerating their latest strategy. Move, Inc., the owner of ListHub could then step back while FindThebest.com takes the reigns with a deeper play in the internet portal arena. FindTheBest is funded with a $17m investment from Kleiner Perkins, Caufield Byers and New World Ventures.
FindTheBest.com released a features list including the following:
-Deeply detailed information on 105 million for sale, off market, and foreclosed homes with more property attributes and transaction history than other real estate sites.
-Proprietary local content which they've been compiling for the last four years, on neighborhoods, schools, weather and more. The ability to do comparable market research on detailed home features to help the consumer discern the market and pricing.
-Finally, simple but powerful visuals that show illustrate market conditions and trends.
Context is King
FindTheBest is expanding the depth of information from sources including DOE, NOAA and over 300 other resources including the data their vast sources pull in on the core site of FindTheBest.com. They're generating their own data and accumulating it at a rate of 23 million unique site visitors a day. What we don't know is how far behind Zillow is and when they'll make jump into the context fray.
FindTheBest.com CEO Kevin O'Connor took a few moments to answer questions about the launch and his real estate venture.
Why are you expanding to real estate?
Our mission is to collect, structure, and connect the world's data so in many ways our expansion to real estate was inevitable. Although we have one of the largest structured data sets on the internet (we're 155x larger than Wikipedia), you can imagine there's still a lot left to gather.
It was the right time for real estate because buying a home is one of the biggest decisions a person makes in their life. It's a vertical where incumbent offerings are very spec-focused, yet the contextual information is just as important as square footage and lot size. We've amassed the broadest, most detailed database of contextual information relevant to a home (neighborhood, schools, weather, amenities) and all we needed was the property information.
When we were able to come to long-term arrangements with some of the most authoritative data providers (CoreLogic and ListHub) it became a no brainer.
What are consumers looking for in real estate that is currently not being provided?
As a real estate agent, you can probably empathize with the notion that a house (beds, baths, square feet) is not a home. While specs are important, the right home is everything from the neighborhood and schools to the local companies and amenities. Today's online research tools do a great job at giving specs but not so much at all the deep, contextual information that makes that house a home. While players like Zillow and Trulia have branched outside of property information (e.g. partnership with GreatSchools), there is still a ton of related information that hasn't been associated to a property. Our mission is to collect all the world's data, our product is already very competitive and will only improve as we add other topics to our platform.
Where are additional opportunities in the real estate vertical for innovation and growth?
15 years ago, people wouldn't have dreamed of being able to research houses online. Today it seems like new real estate sites are created every day: sites for golf lovers, lake lovers, even hunters. With so many websites vying for consumer attention it can be unnerving to go through the process of finding and compiling all the information that's important to you in your search for the right home.
The biggest opportunity is without question related information. We need to bring as much contextual information on to real estate sites so that every type of home buyer can evaluate a property from one place with their unique preferences in mind - whether that's golf, lakes, hunting, or thousands of other signals.
Another big opportunity is in explaining really technical real estate signals to the typical home buyers. We want to be able to interpret and explain complicated real estate signals for first time home buyers and buyers who have bought before but still feel overwhelmed by the process. We want to explain complicated jargon and show home researchers how typical or atypical certain aspects of a home are in a given geology. The first big innovation in the online real estate research experience was making data available, now we're at the next step of telling home researchers what the data means.
Do you think the RE industry will see this as a complement or competition?
I think it's pretty well accepted that context is the future of online home buying. In fact Spencer Rascoff (Zillow CEO) said just last month that "whether it's info on schools, crime... smog, traffic, noise... if there's data out there associate with the home [Zillow] wants it."
We think we have a head start on context but know that the other big players have similar end goals in mind. Competition is good for consumers, it forces more rapid innovation and we embrace it.
What aspects of this launch are you most proud of?
In 6 months we've been able to create (from scratch) a product that's competitive with the most accomplished real estate sites on the internet. We've secured some of the most authoritative data sets and our pre-launch beta product is already up to 1M monthly visits. Our speed to market and consumer adoption has been unparalleled.
How do you think this will change the dynamics of how the consumer searches?
Today, people spend a lot of time bouncing from blue link to blue link on search engines trying to find, compile, and make sense of all information they need to make a real estate decision. They need to know everything and are willing to go through the trouble of finding it because it is such a large investment. As sites become more comprehensive and detailed with their scope of information, consumers will begin to wean off of search and go direct to portals for their information needs.
Although the majority of today's researchers are reaching real estate portals through search, we're already finding that they stick around and are more likely to come direct or recommend us to their friends when they realize the depth and breadth of information our site has.
Have you had any personal challenges when searching for your own real estate where you included solutions in this product? If so what?
I've moved a few different times and each time, the home research process is a complicated and time intensive process. When I was moving from New York to California, I was incredibly worried about earthquake risk. What I didn't know was that where I was looking to move had incredibly high fire risk. Earthquake risk is a given if you're going to live in California. What I needed to consider was whether or not the fire risk was worth it. It's things like risk, neighborhood, schools, and all of the other related-topics that we think are crucial to really understanding what it's like to live in a certain house.
FindTheBest is a research engine focused on collecting, structuring, and connecting the world's data - 59 billion facts to date - to give people all the information they need to research with confidence. The company's desktop
site, mobile site and embeddable widgets let people thoroughly research tho
usands of topics on one intuitive interface. Launched in late 2010, FindTheBest has quickly become a leading research engine with 23 million monthly
visits. FindTheBest is headquartered in Santa Barbara, California. More information about FindTheBest is available at www.findthebest.com .