On March 13, 2020, Glenn Kelman, the chief govt of the on-line true estate broker Redfin, was biking to function when he received a phone from Henry Ellenbogen, a longtime investor in Redfin who had started out his individual fund.
At Harvard, Mr. Ellenbogen majored in the record of technology. 1 huge matter he discovered, he has mentioned, was that technological know-how is made perfectly in progress of people’s potential and willingness to use it.
“Tell me some thing,” Mr. Ellenbogen asked Mr. Kelman, according to an account the chief executive posted on Redfin’s web site. “When men and women begin touring homes by way of an Apple iphone, will not a lot of them make a decision, even immediately after this complete pandemic ends, that this is just a far better way to see properties? And if this full procedure of purchasing and promoting properties primarily goes digital, how will other brokerages contend with you?”
Mr. Kelman, a minimal preoccupied by how Seattle’s ordinarily bustling streets ended up eerily vacant, said he didn’t know.
“I do,” Mr. Ellenbogen reported. “The world is shifting in your favor.”
This was not a typical perspective then, and it unquestionably was not what Mr. Kelman was enduring. The very first confirmed coronavirus dying in the United States was a nursing property resident in a Seattle suburb on Feb. 29. Inside hours, home sellers determined that perhaps they did not want strangers breathing in their living area and bedrooms. Prospective buyers commenced to pull out as effectively.
For Redfin, that was the starting of a crisis. Inside of a couple of times, it shut down its 78 places of work around the place. Its inventory plunged, losing two-thirds of its worth.
“The magnitude of the drop was expanding just about every day,” Mr. Kelman said. He agreed to sell Mr. Ellenbogen much more stock for $110 million, thinking Redfin could need to have cash to make it through a extensive drought. In early April, Mr. Kelman furloughed 41 percent of the company’s agents, who had been salaried workers. A lot more than 1,000 folks had been influenced.