At 6:30 am, a text appeared on my phone from a great friend and former colleague. The story he sent had this headline: “MoxiWorks Acquires Imprev, the Best-in-Class Marketing Automation Service.”
My immediate reaction? This was fantastic news for Imprev and MoxiWorks.
My DNA is part of Imprev. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with Renwick Congdon, founder of Imprev, for nearly 20 years.
Both firms are Seattle-area based. Both have hired and developed a team of exceptionally talented, passionate, and loyal employees. These folks are super nice people whom you enjoy being around.
Leaders have built both tech firms with an uncompromising commitment to quality. Both firms tie their missions to doing the right thing for brokerages and their agents: they have the real estate industry’s best interests at heart.
MoxiWorks was created by a leading real estate brokerage (Windermere) to help agents. Imprev was created by a former top-producing loan officer to help his agents.
Both firms are “best-in-class” for what they do, and when fully integrated, their potential is much greater together.
I’ve always seen Imprev and MoxiWorks as forward-thinking firms. Renwick and York Baur, CEO of MoxiWorks, are individually brilliant. Bringing Imprev into MoxiWorks, I believe, creates a real estate tech powerhouse.
Culture is the Key
My background is heavy in mergers and acquisitions. I cut my professional teeth on them. I was the spokesperson and PR architect for Great Western Bank’s acquisitions. Great Western acquired more thrifts in Florida from the Resolution Trust Corporation than any other bank except for Nation’s Bank (now Bank of America). Great Western also bought several healthy thrifts. I was embedded deeply in each acquisition.
What I learned from my M&A experience is that when cultures match, business thrives. When cultures conflict, only one survives. The surviving culture is almost always the firm that is doing the buying, not the one being bought.
I know so many of the Imprev employees – they have treated me like family long after my departure – that I don’t have words that adequately describe how special these people are. What MoxiWorks is gaining is not just a terrific talent pool, but people who care deeply about what they do. That seems to be so rare in a world where most folks scotch-hop jobs every couple of years.
The culture fit is key to the successful transition of maximizing the success of both firms. Renwick gets that. And I am certain culture is one of the key reasons he agreed to the acquisition by MoxiWorks. Renwick takes care of his people. He’s that kind of guy.
York gets it too. I sent him a note the morning of the acquisition, pointing out that I believe the culture fit was a key factor, and he agreed, writing, “It’s an oft-overlooked aspect of mergers, but in fact makes all the difference in the end. I’m confident that our two strong cultures will blend to make for an even stronger combined Moxi.”
When you have two groups of people that are very much alike in so many ways, I do not doubt that one of the biggest hurdles that most acquisitions face will be a much lower bar for Imprev and MoxiWorks.
Full Disclosure: My Insider Status
Renwick and I first crossed when I was working for Brad Inman at Inman News. Renwick officially launched Imprev to the industry at Real Estate (Inman) Connect 2001. At the time, I was the Executive Producer of Connect.
Renwick’s back story is quite remarkable. He was a top producing loan officer in the 1980s. He figured out the best way to build more business with real estate agents was to bring value to their relationship.
Agents hated having to create property and open house flyers because it took them so damn long. Renwick also couldn’t afford to do the work for him, but he was an out-of-the-box thinker.
Renwick also was a bit of a Geek who likes to play around with code. So, he created software called “Flyerware” to automate the creation of real estate flyers.
Flyerware became a 1996 Top Product Finalist at the National Association of Realtors Convention. He then joined Homeshark (later iOwn.com). He and his technology became part of the online lending pioneer’s operation.
Most people credit Zillow with introducing the first online valuation engine, but if memory serves me correct, I believe Renwick at Homeshark did this well before Zillow. (Brad’s HomeGain did too, but that’s another story.)
When he left Homeshark, he bought back his technology, and in 2000 established Imprev, in his garage, complete with cubicles!
A few years later, I wrote a very positive review about Imprev for a weekly newsletter my firm published. It had over 50,000 real estate agents and broker subscribers. Renwick would later tell me that my article “broke” his website. At the time, imprev.com was rending full high-resolution jpeg images. The traffic my article generated took down his site!
Then in 2011, I saw on LinkedIn that Imprev was looking for a Marketing Director, and I ping-ed Renwick. I had spent the last eight years as a mortgage broker and was looking to restart my PR career. We met in downtown Seattle at the Bookstore Bar & Cafe near the waterfront. He hired me at the end of a “brief” meeting for drinks that lasted three hours.
My tenure as Vice President, Communications and Marketing at Imprev lasted three years. For the second time in my career, I had the remarkable pleasure of working with someone who could see the future of real estate way before anyone else did. The first person was Brad Inman. The second was Renwick.
We did a lot of great things together, including the creation of the well-known Imprev Thought Leader Survey, as well as executing the company’s rebrand from a firm known as a provider of real estate flyers and postcards to real estate marketing’s automation leader.
In 2014, I experienced the great fortune of Renwick asking me to leave Imprev. My word choices of describing this as “good fortune” may sound funny, but let me explain. Renwick could see the future much more clearly than I could. He believed that what I was doing for Imprev I should be doing for a lot of other companies.
Renwick pushed me to restart my own PR business. In some ways, he believed in what I could accomplish even more than I did at the time. To make the transition possible, he committed Imprev to become my first client at very favorable terms.
Renwick’s vision for me resulted in my best career move ever. It led to me joining forces with the WAV Group. This enabled me to work with two of the greatest humans I know: my partners Victor Lund and Marilyn Wilson (and last year, we added another super great guy, David Gumpper).
Like Moxi and Imprev, the WAV Group also is committed to moving our industry forward. It feels like home to me because the cultures are so similar. So, the announcement that Imprevians have become Moxians couldn’t have happened to a better group of people.
When Moxi brought on a private equity partner a few months ago, we anticipated the acquisition of endpoint solutions that are popular on their platform. Moxi has highly competitive solutions in CRM, CMA – and now Marketing, where Imprev is clearly the market leader. The data aggregation that Moxi does will be great for Imprev. It will allow marketing on new and updated listings to happen in near real-time. That speed will be exciting to Imprev users.
Bravo to York and his team at MoxiWorks, and I’m raising a fine glass of single-malt Scotch to Renwick, his beverage of choice, and everyone at Imprev.