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Sneak Peek: Follow the Leader - Ian Morris

September 13 2011

Ian Morris Portrait

Today, we're giving agents a look at our MLS series, Follow the Leader.

When you're heading a company called "Market Leader," you face a certain expectation, an assumption that you've "got what it takes." The good news for Ian Morris is that he does – he has what it takes to lead a publicly-traded company and an industry. And, today, he's RE Technology's leader to follow.

It's no surprise that Ian Morris came quickly to mind for this week's Follow the Leader. We've had our eye on Market Leader for some time and noticed something rather striking in recent months – under Ian's guidance, they've been shifting their business into high gear. That's just one metaphor (one of many we could use) to express a series of announcements and innovations.

He Wrote the Book on It
Yes, the real estate industry is changing. And who better to explain it to us than someone who literally wrote the book on it? You see, Mr. Morris also found time to co-author (with Steve Murray, president of Real Trends Inc.) an excellent guide to the changing industry and how to be successful in it called "Game Plan." We really enjoyed this book (you can read our review here) and highly recommend it to any agent or broker looking for an edge.

Ian's Fresh Thinking
We sat down with Ian Morris to learn more about the innovative new approach he's taking. "I believe that great companies and great innovations arise in bad times, not good," he begins. "We've found a way to rise above the challenges facing our industry and turn them into positive changes for our company and for real estate professionals."

marketleader logoMarket Leader already has the building blocks needed for growth. "We're in a great position right now. We have a strong leadership team, over 60,000 users, partnerships with many franchises and brokerages, and award-winning products. We see this downturn as an opportunity to invest in our customers and shape the next 5 to 10 years."

Integrated Solutions
Ian Morris is a man with a plan and that plan is the guiding force behind Market Leader's big changes: integration. "I'm passionate about integrated technology platforms. That's where the industry is headed and that's what Market Leader is doing. Working with a bunch of different vendors is a waste of time, energy and money for real estate professionals. We've created a completely seamless, start-to-finish solution."

Innovation, he says, is great – but, at the end of the day, "you still need to sign people up." He predicts that, in 5 years time, many of today's companies will have closed their doors or been folded into larger companies. There will be fewer, bigger players. The result: greater efficiency.

Key to Ian's strategy for growth and innovation has been building new technology and products such as eEdge (launched earlier this year with Keller Williams) and Market Insider. Through a combination of homegrown innovations and acquisitions, Market Leader's integrated technology platform today accelerates business for tens of thousands of real estate professionals nationwide.

"From 1999 to 2007, Market Leader was focused primarily on lead generation," Mr. Morris explains. "Although we knew lead generation was critical, we saw that the software around it would become even more important. We also thought that, from a business standpoint, software could become an important differentiator for Market Leader. Lead generation has become commoditized, but software was an area we could – and have – become thought leaders."

In addition to building technology from the ground up, Market Leader has also added products from the outside. For example, the company acquired RealtyGenerator (Ian proclaims, "the single best lead management software in the industry") four years ago. "We acquired them in 2007 and shortly thereafter decided to build, from the ground up, our own software platform based on their technology. Since then, we've dramatically enhanced the product."

Market Leader also acquired kwkly ("mobile lead generation is a swiftly growing area," explains Ian) and SharperAgent earlier this year. "SharperAgent is the leading marketing suite for real estate agents. If an agent or broker wants to build their brand, SharperAgent gives them over 3500 templates for flyers, postcards, websites, virtual tours, cards, photo books, and more. Further, they're the exclusive representative in the real estate industry for Shutterfly."

Moving Upstream
"While we've maintained our focus on providing outstanding customer service, we understand that we need to build outward from our initial base. So, we've moved upstream from agents to brokers and franchise organizations. Now, we offer targeted solutions for their needs."

About Ian Morris
Ian Morris is the President and CEO of Market Leader. Under his leadership, Market Leader has grown from a cutting-edge idea into a publicly-traded company that was ranked the 4th Fastest Growing Technology Company in North America by Deloitte and Touche.

As one of the pioneers of the online real estate industry, Morris is a frequent keynote speaker at major real estate industry conferences, and was rated "One of the Real Estate Industry's Most Influential People" by Realtor® Magazine, and an Inman Innovator of the Year.

Before joining Market Leader, Morris ran Microsoft HomeAdvisor, a business that he helped launch in 1997. Previously, he held a variety of Internet marketing, business development, and operations positions at Microsoft, including responsibility for MSN's partnership marketing efforts. Morris holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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