Lessons remembered—learn from leaders where tomorrow’s opportunities and threats lie.
ALEX LANGE, CEO, UPSTREAM
“It is the culmination of my life’s work.”—Alex Lange
One of the greatest new developments of the past few years has been Upstream, a brokerage industry effort to streamline listing and sales data and how it moves around the online world. It is a huge project with many moving parts and stakeholders. Thus, the selection of its founding CEO was critical.
Alex Lange, who has a long background in technology, start-ups, venture funding and the residential real estate brokerage business, was selected. Alex is well known in the business and has held significant roles with such firms as Art.com, Roost, Market Leader and 21st Century. REAL Trends caught up with Alex to ask about his new role. Here’s what he said:
Lange: Some people asked me why I would accept this position when my background was about venture-funded deals where there is an exit plan. Upstream has no exit plan, no plan to sell to anyone at any time. My answer was simply that this is, in fact, the culmination of my life’s work.
I feel like I understand and have a feel for technology, especially in residential real estate. I think I have a pretty good feel for residential brokerage firms and their agents, and how the business actually functions. Plus, I think I have a good feel for the interaction of brokers, agents, their data, MLSs and the Realtors®. While I will meet many people and learn more about these areas, I believe I have a good foundation.
This is a tremendous undertaking and not done in some traditional way. In ordinary tech start-ups, one has to get funding, acquire hardware, build a development and sales staff and all the rest. In this case, Upstream is developing its tech underpinning through our contract with the National Association of Realtors® and with technology that has already, to some extent, been field tested. Many of the leaders of that unit are people I know. While there will be selling to do in the future, much of what first has to happen externally is communications—with the Upstream board, other broker-age groups and networks, MLSs, Realtor associations and others.
I love to build things, and this is a huge, important project to get built. This is the ultimate challenge, and one that I think will keep our team and me busy for many years ahead. Not having some of the usual challenges of start-ups, I can focus on building a small, focused team, getting our technology built through the NAR team and reaching out to the brokerage community. From my point of view, Upstream is all the really enjoyable parts of a new company without the other parts.
It is also cool when you see all these highly competitive brokerage firms working together to make Upstream successful. They are dedicated to seeing it to its finish, to having every brokerage and agent in the country have access to its benefits, regardless of size, model or brand. These are some smart, successful people, and they want this to succeed. I am going to do everything in my power to see that that is what happens.
Yes, it’s different than normal start-ups, but as I said, the best parts are what I will get to do. It gives me a chance to do something important and large that will have a positive impact on how the whole industry works.