Zillow, you’ll recall, is controversial, because it estimates values of homes. Some people love to gawk at the estimates for their neighbors’ homes, others are irked when they feel Zillow gives a low-ball value to their home. Zillow works because it is top-down. Unlike other Web 2.0 companies, it didn’t require lots of user-participation to get where it is now. On the other hand, that might be Zillow’s weakness. After a user visits the site, what do they do then?
My Currency is the opposite. It lets people participate, and encourages them to estimate the value of homes for sale. If a home is selling for $500,000, and you think it is worth less, you get points if it is sold for less. The idea is that estate agents will want to participate. If they develop a track record of accuracy, their credibility grows, they get more customers. By aggregating votes from all users, the “wisdom of the crowds” can also be assessed — which may or may not help in home-buying decisions.
My Currency has a futures index, too, which lets agents and others predict the future average square-foot price of homes in a region.
The San Francisco company launches at DEMO. The company is focusing initially on housing but plans to roll out services in other areas. Its model is advertising.
Karim Tahawi, Founder and CEO of My-Currency.com, is a former derivatives trader and former Vice-Chairman of the Pacific Exchange.
The challenge for My Currency will be to command enough authority to make people want to participate. This is a long shot; there’s so much noise out there — Zillow, Trulia and many others.