Redfin is terminating its newly-launched Scouting Report service, ending a tumultuous five-day period in which the company took heat for bugs in its online scorecard of more than one million agents. The Seattle company will continue to offer the Scouting Report service — which allowed consumers to find specific information about individual agents such as the number of homes sold and median sales price — for its own agents.
But it will no longer be available on Redfin for other agents.
In a note to employees on the Redfin blog, CEO Glenn Kelman wrote:
“We have to account for what happened over the past week as a failure, and try to understand how we can do better. Obviously, it’s my fault. I’ve thought a lot about how hard folks worked to pull this off. I wish you’d had a better leader in me. But the lesson we should draw is to be more thoughtful about making a risk pay, not more cautious in avoiding the risk altogether.”
In an interview with GeekWire, Kelman said he was embarrassed by the mistakes he made in rolling out the Scouting Report service. When the company discovered additional bugs today in the source data, which were more challenging to fix, he said it was best to shut it down.
Some of the mistakes were discussed in an earlier GeekWire story in which Kelman offered a lengthy comment about the company’s activities, taking issue with my use of the word “blunder.”
“I disputed the idea that this was a blunder, but now I am ready to concede that it is,” Kelman told me this afternoon.
Despite the failed launch, Kelman says that the project is not completely dead. “I still think there is something to this idea, and somebody is going to build a directory of agents,” said Kelman. “Hopefully, Redfin will be able to come back to it.”
Given the initial troubles with Scouting Report, Kelman admits that Redfin will be held to a higher bar if it were to pursue the idea again. But the entrepreneur said that he didn’t want employees of the company walking away from the experience feeling “gunshy.”
“This is a company that stands apart because we’ve always been willing to take crazy risks,” said Kelman.
Redfin has run afoul of the rules of Multiple Listing Services throughout its history, and that appeared to be one of the issues playing out with Scouting Reports. Some MLS agencies questioned whether Redfin had the right to display data on agents in this manner.
Over the course of the past few days, Redfin pulled back on the Scouting Report service in Washington D.C., Atlanta and Sacramento. Scouting Reports were not made available in Seattle from the outset, due in part to restrictions from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Kelman said the company will move forward, smarter from the lessons learned from the failed launch. He writes in the blog post:
“There are all sorts of projects that fail at any corporation for a different and less conspicuous reason, because the risk was measured out in teaspoons and the idea was compromised beyond recognition and nobody made decisions and the thing had absolutely no personality and nobody really cared in the end whether it was good or bad — or even knew that it existed. The reason most people give up on a great company like Redfin is because it stops making decisions and stops taking risks. They give up because the company loses its gonads and its heart and then its soul.”