The Thrill of the New

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Small, uncontrollable activities have enormous impact on seemingly unrelated outcomes. In short, there are no accidents.

January 31, 2001
Dean Horowitz, Publisher

Since Netscape went public about five years ago, we have been bombarded with business news about an economy that is no longer evolving but instead changing in fundamental ways. The days of the cyclical economic model, they told us, will no longer be valid or applicable, simply relegated to the history books and the opening slides of PowerPoint presentations.

Despite Greenspan's words of caution, phrases like "The Internet Economy," "Internet Speed" and "The Internet Revolution" were driving business decisions.

The new language became hard driving dialogue. It put fear into the hearts of those content in the old work world. It also drove many to think more creatively with a desire to remain relevant in this quickly changing workplace.

Friends of mine left traditional businesses for dot-coms. These opportunities offered competitive pay, stock options and the chance to become a millionaire within a few years.

My friends told me I was stupid for not joining them and frankly I agreed. I felt stupid because I could not figure out the long-term market relevance of the companies they joined. While my friends are very intelligent and wonderful, I was concerned they had fallen prey to more than one of the seven deadly sins.

Home building was one of the main focuses for this revolution. It represents a significant portion of the economy and the efficiencies the Internet can deliver are needed in our industry. MBAs promised everything about building a home would change, and if you didn't join them, you would no longer be in business. Are you still there? Yep, but those Internet companies that had a poor understanding of home building aren't.

HousingZone put on an online conference, in partnership with Yahoo!, that explored Internet opportunities for the residential construction industry. It was called the E-Construction Conference and attracted more than 1000 key home builders and related professionals. Most responses to the conference were overwhelmingly positive, though a few critical e-mails were received. One was from a builder who kept attacking the presentations because they were "obviously" not created by "true" home builders. They were created by "pimply faced techno-geeks" who don't have a place in the construction industry.

The best part of this builder's anger-it was justified. The connection between many of the ideas and the actual products' available is still open for discussion. Only a handful of the Internet companies have delivered what has been promised.

When we launched HousingZone we worked within corporate tolerances for "burn-rates" and gained established leadership of the "online real estate." As we enter the second year of the website, we again work within clear, accepted business plans based on profitability and growth. This is the same demand Wall Street now puts on its remaining Internet portfolio members.

HousingZone continues to grow in unique visitors, exceeds most website revenue goals, and our parent company has selected it to be one of only four key investments this year. The reason is simple: it is a fundamentally sound idea that reflects the needs of the industry it serves. Kind of simple, really. Kind of old economy, too.

The Internet Revolution provided new business opportunities and ideas. The Revolution only really began. It is now up to the true believers, most without the million dollar options, to introduce the Internet innovations at a pace in-tune with its customers, and to deliver sound products when requested. That will be the thrill of the new.

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