Suddenly, Silicon Valley's got to feeling less like a dell of American dynamism and more like a bottomless basin of huge, vaguely creepy, renegades of social engineering. Every day, it seems, another tech icon flashes like a supernova of its own mortality, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Tesla, Uber.
Who's next? Has the tech sector's comeuppance moment arrived, Teflon one moment, dross the next? Could all this tech-wreckage be someone's twisted brainchild on how to put a quick end to the Bay Area's and the Seattle market's housing insanity?
Importantly, what does "techlash" mean for innovation's inroads into the business of developing, designing, and building homes and communities for people?
Time for a collective sigh of relief and vindication, a big blue-backgrounded thumbs up for building and selling homes "the way we've always done it?"
Not if you want to be building and selling homes five years from now, it doesn't.
Think of this another way.
Thomas Edison, arguably one of America's greatest geniuses and innovators, said of his epic missteps and miscalculations, including automatic vote recorders, electric pens, talking dolls, and the home projection kinetoscope (what a ridiculous idea!):
“I have not failed 10,000 times—I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”
What Edison was on to, even when the execution or the market adoption didn't measure up to viable business ventures at the time, was that consumers crave the value inventors generate through their innovations.
Right now, home building development, design, engineering, and construction all have two profoundly important barriers standing between housing's business community and a massively bigger, more inclusive, more dynamically accessible marketplace of demand.
One barrier is cost. Expenses minus their financial antidote--value-generating productivity--price out too many people already, and the number is growing.
The other barrier is talent. Payroll expense minus its business antidote--value-generating productivity, purpose, impact and profitability--prevents a going concern from becoming a really good company.
Who better than home builders understands exactly what Edison meant when he said he'd "found 10,000 ways that will not work?"
This week, Lennar announced it's teaming with venture capital firm Fifth Wall to back Blend, which simplifies and shortens the time it takes to apply for a mortgage. HousingWire's Kelsey Ramirez writes:
Lennar will utilize Blend through its financing arm, Eagle Home Mortgage. The partnership will digitally streamline the home purchase process for Lennar and its customers. The new system will allow Lennar mortgages to close up to 10 days faster by cutting out unnecessary manual process.
Blend explained that the resource and cost savings from using its tech to finance a mortgage, “can also make it more worthwhile for builders to focus on entry-level homes, something much needed in a housing market that is in the midst of an affordability crisis and has seen slowing home sales and rising interest rates.”
Sucking time and sucking expense out of the home buying process--"here's 10 days of your time back"--represent the kind of opportunities builders have to increase their productivity, bridge the cost gap between themselves and their still largely untapped universe of potential buyers. And it puts the consumer--the borrower and buyer--in the center of the value-generation model, not on the periphery. And it does one more thing.
It will attract a next generation of talent into what will be a transformed way of investing in, developing, designing, and building homes and communities of the future.
Which of Edison's quotes would you apply to this moment in home building?
"There's a way to do it better - find it."