EDITOR’S COMMENT: I went to the movies this week. With about 150 of you, as part of EG’s Tech Live event. Together we watched a film that was nothing to do with real estate but at the same time everything to do with real estate.
The film was General Magic. It is a documentary about a Californian start-up filled with some of the greatest minds in Silicon Valley that spectacularly failed. This was a group of people that had essentially come up with the idea for the iPhone. But a decade and a bit too early. It was a start-up, spun out of Apple, that reached for the stars, but never quite made it.
The film is a lesson about how failure isn’t the end, about how failure is actually just the beginning. It is a film about how a handful of people changed the life of billions. It is entirely relevant to the real estate sector and how it approaches the evolution it is currently undergoing.
And here’s why.
General Magic was a company made up of a group of people who wanted to change the future. A group of people who had an idea and thought they could change the world. These were the best, the brightest and the most exciting individuals in tech at the time – and it showed. Together they wanted to build extraordinary things, and their passion about their chance to do that was intoxicating. That resonated with my fellow cinema-goers this week, spurring them to ask: why don’t we have that in real estate? Why is real estate so boring? So slow to innovate?
Where are the best, the brightest and the most exciting individuals in property? Where are the people in real estate who, like the team at General Magic, want to make (or build) something that people love? Where are the people who believe that anything is possible – that you should shoot as high as possible, without fear of failure? Where are the people who have so much passion about creating something that changes the lives of people that it breaks through logic, through the quest for profits?
These are all tough questions to hear, and tougher still to answer. But that doesn’t make them impossible to answer. We are at a point in the evolution of real estate when what we do next matters. Staying on the path, doing what we do day in, day out, will get us so far, but it is not going to take us all the way. Straying off that path, reaching for the stars, trying new things, not worrying too much about what makes sense, being led by passion, not logic, may ultimately not work either.
It is highly likely that, along the way, those who think they can change the world will get carried away and fail, just like General Magic did. But, through that failure so many lessons will be learnt. Through General Magic’s failure, the iPod, the iPhone, Android, Apple Watches, Nest, eBay, all of those things that we take for granted today, were born. Imagine the documentary we could make as an industry if we supported and celebrated that same innovation, that same passion and creativity. What could the failures of thinking big in real estate deliver?
For me, it was so important that we as a real estate community saw this movie, so that we could start to ask the above questions of ourselves. And, importantly, see that there is a little bit of (General) magic in all of us – now we just need to figure out how to unleash it.