I am expecting a downturn for CRE tech. Are you ready? Maybe I can help.

“But Duke, things are going so well, what are you trying to do?” I’m not trying to do anything other than stating the facts that we need to progress and to do that we need to get leaner meaner and smarter. You think we are already there now? We are not even close, not by any measure.

Your phone does not make you a genius
It’s a small, powerful mobile computer. But it’s only going to be as good as the user of that phone. It’s an incredible piece of technology without a doubt. Do I need to bring up what I think Peter Thiel is famous for generally saying that this generation gave us mobile computers that play games and Candy Crush and the generation before that went to the moon and back with almost nothing? When you look at it that way, it doesn’t seem to be like too much has been accomplished.

How far have we come?
What about commercial real estate? Quantum leaps? You know the answer to that. Blame and point fingers at whomever you want but all as in all of us are in part to blame for what I consider almost zero progression with the use of any technology. Sit back and think. Name one just one technology we can say was “that” technology breakthrough. Can’t think of anything, can you?

Just Because
I am of the opinion the reason for that is that is has been far too easy to “do tech” in the past five years or so. Also, the market has been robust at the very least. The combination of those two things equals mediocrity. I can hear the tech CEO’s from here “fuck you, Duke, what the fuck do you know?” I know that I have seen zero original ideas funded by people who have to deploy money and they look at this asset class and say, ”hell something’s got to happen” so into the fray they jump.

More pain, wait how about just pain, to begin with?
I attended a tech conference recently, and the panelist were flat out giddy with their ”genius and ability to dominate a certain segment in the future. Sitting next to me was a “seasoned finance and tech global CEO, and all we could do was sit back and shake our heads. How many of these giddy geniuses have been through a down cycle? NONE. How many have seen the money dry up? NONE. How many think it’s going to happen to them? NONE.

Yes, I will enjoy it more than most
As much as I am a cheerleader, I have been around for a while and seen it when there was NOTHING in the pipeline. Who is going to survive when that comes? I can guarantee that it will be hardly any. I think I heard one of the panelists say that “the suits and the money have shown up and are doing their best to ruin it.” Those suits and money are your customers you stupid, arrogant little shit. At least two of them were right in front of you. Might be time for a change in your company. Starting with your dumb ass.

Those suits and money are your customers you stupid, arrogant little shit.

But you are smarter than that right? Are you sure?
You are not that stupid, and I hope for you and your company you are not. What’s going to happen when it all goes away and it will. I said it would. Don’t be so arrogant that you sit on a stage and show your stupidity to the world.

Let me help you now
You do have it all figured out, don’t you?Just in case you are open to a few ideas, let me throw you a few hints or thoughts your way to help you when the shitstorm does hit.

  • Let’s start with the obvious. Head count. Start chopping now. You are in a growth mode you say. Who is not selling? Get rid of them. While you are at it move the sales “people” to the front of the office or right next to you. Don’t banish them to the back, if they even have some space at all. They are supposed to be out selling right. How about all the others taking up prime office space? What do they sell again? Revenue generation or why exist?
  • Is your product working and selling/generating revenue? If it is then leave it the fuck alone. Don’t screw up what got you to this point. Fix the pain, and they will pay. Bring them toys and flashy add on’s, and it’s just time-consuming bullshit. Kill the pain and get paid. Did I mention selling recently.
  • Leave the bullshit out. This is from personal experience. Quit fucking lying about your real revenue and expenses. If you aren’t honest, that means you are hiding something and lying. Wow, that helps the company grow right. Bullshit until what? You no longer have any money? The answer to that is, yes!
  • Find help and partners or just buy their ass NOW. I’m serious. Get aggressive. Do you have a better chance of surviving by yourself or not? I’m not suggesting you get away from your product at all but why are certain companies willing to partner or get “bought?” There are a thousand reasons. Taking the 24/7/365 pain in the ass away from somebody and making it work. There are a thousand reasons that will work for you. I suggest you do this often and quickly. Let me put this out there also. Pick a number stick to it. Put a time on it for a yes or no. Be ready execute in days not months. If it’s not your number walk away! I said Walk Away. Move on. Fuck negotiation. You are trying to survive not negotiate your way out of business. Let the losers negotiate. The winners will do the deal or not and move on. It’s called Surviving.

You may be but just a few
I mentioned before not many if any will make it. The ones that do will be stronger and better companies. They will have better products and better positioned to move on past this phase of easy money and total bullshit. The companies that make it won’t be on a stage blasting the very people who will help their company thrive. Not the smart, lean and mean companies anyways.

It’s coming
You may disagree with me, but that’s ok. Maybe this will be a learning experience for you. You have never seen the signs before. One quick hint, it’s not about the tech as much as it is about the commercial real estate market. What happens when your customers won’t or can’t make a decision to pay for your product? Do you have what it takes to survive and thrive?

Duke Long

Duke LongDuke Long is a twenty-year veteran of commercial real estate. He is the broker/owner of The Duke Long Agency. He is also known for writing his strong opinions about all things CRE at www.dukelong.com. He has delivered numerous presentations and discussions about online CRE tech, marketing, data, and digital media. Indiana University allowed him to study real estate and the United States Air Force discharged him honorably.