The Seven Most Interesting People in Real Estate, 2019 Edition

Welcome back to another edition of The Seven Most Interesting People in Real Estate.

As in earlier years, let me reiterate that Inman does the Influencers list, Swanepoel does the Power 200 list (I help out on that list), and both are far more respected and important than this short list of mine for a bunch of reasons.

Inman Influencers are “industry professionals who shape, change, and influence the industry.” Swanepoel’s SP200 takes hundreds of hours of work (I can attest to that personally) and is the definitive guide to the most powerful individuals in real estate.

The Notorious R.O.B. Interesting List is neither of those things, although there are obvious overlaps because I find influence and power to be interesting. It is simply a list of people (and companies) I find interesting for a variety of reasons. They may or may not be influential, may or may not be powerful, and in fact, you may or may not have heard of them at all. But I find them interesting, and that’s enough.

To prepare this list, the Committee (that would be Sunny and me) spent many, many minutes of grueling debate and analysis, using a proprietary analysis technique with the working title, “What does Sunny think of my crazy suggestions?” Dr. Jameson and Judge Bulleit may or may not have been consulted.

Without further ado, Notorious ROB presents, The Seven Most Interesting People in Real Estate in 2019.

1. Rich Barton, Zillow Group

I mean… there wasn’t much doubt that he would be #1 on any kind of a list in real estate these days, was there?

I wrote an entire Red Dot report titled “Return of the King” when Barton came back into the CEO role at Zillow. And since his return, it really does feel like the pivot to Zillow 2.0 is… if not complete, at least well past the beginning stages.

Barton has reshaped the leadership team at Zillow, obviously starting with Spencer Rascoff. Familiar faces who have been with Zillow for years and years have moved on, such as Greg Schwartz and RJ Jones. New senior executives have joined the company, such as Aimee Johnson, CMO; Dawn Lyon, Chief Corporate Relations Officer; and Rian Furey, President of Zillow Home Loans.

He has also accelerated the transformation by massively investing in Zillow Offers, expanding it to 22 markets with the goal of being in 26 markets by middle of next year. And with some of those 22 markets being in high-cost, high-rent coastal cities like Los Angeles, we’re seeing Zillow test the theory that iBuying is only for cookie cutter, lower-priced homes.

On top of all that, as I have written in these pages and elsewhere for years now, Zillow might be ready to revolutionize mortgage. Do that, and you change the world. The $70 billion or so in annual real estate commissions is but a drop in the bucket compared to the $1.4 trillion or so in mortgages.

Plus, I find his return itself fascinating. I mean, Barton was already a billionaire. He had made it and then some. He was sitting on important boards, like Netflix, making investments, and enjoying life as a certified rich guy with generational wealth. Why come back into the grind of having to manage a giant publicly traded company that has to act like a startup?

I have made the analogy to Elon Musk from time to time. I think people like that no longer pursue business ventures to make money. They already have more than they could spend in their lifetimes. They pursue business ventures to change the world, to leave a legacy, to put a dent in the universe. That is absolutely fascinating and interesting and all the other words.

He is my top pick for the Most Interesting Person in Real Estate for 2019.

Official Bio

As chief executive officer of Zillow Group, Rich leads the company’s mission to transform how people buy, sell, rent and finance homes. Rich co-founded Zillow in 2005 and served as CEO until 2010, when he became the company’s executive chairman. He returned as CEO in early 2019.

Before Zillow, Rich founded Expedia within Microsoft in 1994 and successfully spun it out as a public company in 1999. He served as president, CEO and board director of Expedia from 1999 to 2003. He also co-founded and served as non-executive chairman of Glassdoor from 2007 to 2018.

Rich was a venture partner at Benchmark from 2005 until 2018. He’s served on many public company boards and continues to be a board director for Netflix, Qurate, Artsy and Zillow Group. He earned a Bachelor of Science in general engineering: industrial economics from Stanford University.

2. Leslie Appleton-Young, California Association of REALTORS

I think I can say with certainty that I never thought an economist would make a list of the most interesting people anywhere, in real estate or not. I mean, economists… picture an economist. If you’re not immediately thinking of Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, then you’re likely a Millennial or a GenZ and have never watched one of the finest comedies ever made.

Well, I can say with absolute certainty that there is at least one economist who is nothing like Ben Stein or any character Ben Stein plays: Leslie Appleton Young, Chief Economist of the California Association of REALTORS.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Leslie years ago when I spoke at a CAR event and it was love at first sight. Well, that sounds wrong… so how about admiration and respect and delight at first sight?

That is not an uncommon reaction to Leslie. She is not only one of the most intelligent people you’ll meet with an amazing command of facts, stats, trends, and things happening in real estate not just in California but nationwide, she is also one of the sweetest, kindest, nicest and most engaging human beings you will ever meet.

And when she’s presenting on the economy or on the housing market, topics that usually put most normal people straight to sleep, Leslie has a way of keeping it interesting and fresh somehow. I have never nodded off at a Leslie Appleton Young presentation on market stats — something I can’t say about other such presentations by other economists.

But Leslie’s influence goes beyond just making economic predictions or analyzing the California housing market. Here is what Sara Sutachan, VP of Industry Relations & Strategic Initiatives for CAR, and one of her many proteges had to say about her:

Leslie Appleton-Young has been my boss, my mentor and I’m proud to say my dear friend for more than 18 years. Throughout that time we have laughed together, cried together, brainstormed new ideas together and created so many things including WomanUP!® together. She has shaped the minds and hearts of those on her team. I am so grateful for her dedication to making me a better person and leader. She has developed a culture where her team feels valued, cared for and like they are making a difference in the industry.

Sara mentioned what may end up being one of Leslie’s more enduring legacies: the creation of WomanUP! movement. As a strong and powerful female leader, who came up during a time when women were not seen as leaders, Leslie has always championed other women in the real estate industry. WomanUP! may be the institutionalization of her desire and wish to see more women in leadership positions across the industry.

Leslie plans to retire from her long service to CAR and to the industry at the end of 2020. Which means we only have one more year of her delightful wisdom. But even after 2020, there is little doubt that Leslie’s impact on generations of women (and men) will be felt for years to come.

An amazing economist, an amazing leader, and an amazing person – I am pleased to be able to salute Leslie Appleton Young and call her one of the most interesting people in real estate in 2019.

Official Bio

Leslie Appleton-Young is Senior Vice President and Chief Economist for the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.). Appleton-Young directs the activities of the Association’s Member Information Team.

She is the co-creator of WomanUP!®, C.A.R.’s Women’s Initiative designed to close the gender gap in the leadership of real estate firms. In a male-dominated sector of the real estate industry, Leslie is passionate about empowering women to see their potential and the possibilities available to them – even when they can’t see them yet.

When she is not overseeing the analysis of housing market and brokerage industry trends, broker relations, and membership development activities or sharing her wisdom from stage across the country, you will find her mentoring the next generation, traveling with her loved ones, or riding her heart out at the local SoulCycle!

3. Jack Ryan, REX

I first learned about Jack Ryan when he spoke at The Brookings Institute, on a panel discussing housing policies. I had vaguely heard of this company REX that was making waves and making enemies but really didn’t know much about it. Then I saw Jack speak and thought, “Holy crap, that’s a smart, smart man… I’d better find out more about REX.”

See for yourself:

But since that’s a long boring discussion amongst wonks about housing policy, this is a better introduction to Jack Ryan and the company he founded, REX:

I managed to interview Jack for a Notorious Interview… and it was a fascinating conversation… but technical failures on my part cut the interview short at about 32 minutes. Sob.

There’s so much I find interesting about Jack and about REX.

First, REX is the first company I can think of that has just decided not to play ball with the rest of the industry. Redfin came out hot and heavy in its early days, but ultimately, it didn’t have a choice but to join the MLS, become a REALTOR, and play ball with everybody else. It has since moderated its stance on many things, and Glenn Kelman went from something like a scourge of the industry to a defender of it. Trelora, whose CEO I profiled last year, was disruptive, was not a REALTOR company and didn’t offer “standard” compensation, but it was still a member of the MLS. Other business models like the 100% companies such as HomeSmart and Realty One Group never bucked the conventions of the industry, other than in its commission splits. And even newer companies like Houwzer in Philadelphia or Door in Dallas do interesting and disruptive things, but have chosen not to fight battles they don’t think are worth fighting.

Only REX has gone full monte on trying to do real estate brokerage without following any of the rules, conventions, and industry practices. REX is not a Participant in any MLS and it certainly isn’t a member of NAR.

Instead, it has chosen to go its own way, relying on AI, big data, and technology to find buyers for their homes and sellers who find what REX is offering compelling.

Venture capitalists certainly have found REX compelling, as REX recently raised a $40 million round of funding, taking the total to $115 million raised to date. The investors involved include Sun Microsystems co-founder and former CEO Scott McNealyRichard “Dick” Schulze, founder of Best BuyGordon Segal, founder of Crate and Barrel; and Amit Singhal, former SVP of search at Google. That’s a nice list of investors and advisors to have, no?

If REX is successful, it has the potential to bring about a revolution in real estate brokerage. And quite unlike many of the other companies who have tried to do just that, there isn’t a whole lot that the industry could do about REX. Love ’em or hate ’em, REX is an interesting company trying to do extraordinary things.

Second, Jack Ryan personally fascinates me. It’s common to find corporate chieftains talking the talk of social good for all kinds of PR reasons. It’s far less common to find them walking the walk.

Jack Ryan was a partner at Goldman Sachs when it went public in the late 90s. I did a summer internship at Goldman Sachs during law school and remember what the place was like. For those who don’t quite understand what that means, becoming a partner at Goldman Sachs used to mean arriving at the very pinnacle of the finance profession. Many of the smartest, most ambitious, and most driven people started out on the journey to the top, but only the very few, the very best, and the very lucky reached the top. So Jack Ryan was one of the very best financiers on Wall Street. Being a Goldman Sachs partner meant millions if not tens of millions in compensation every single year.

Ryan quit after the IPO.

That’s right. He walked away from near-guaranteed income in the tens of millions every year to teach high school in Chicago’s south side. That’s not the nice part of Chicago most tourists see.

And he started REX as a way to build wealth so that he and his wife can continue to do charitable works building houses and schools; you really should watch the entire Cheddar interview.

I think that’s remarkable and admirable and fascinating. Jack Ryan is one of the seven most interesting people in real estate.

Official Bio

Jack Ryan co-founded REX in 2015 as a full-service residential broker that offers a more effective and less expensive way to buy and sell homes. Now operating in 23 cities in 17 states, REX is one of the very few disrupters in the residential real estate industry to raise more than $100 million in private equity to back its business.

REX harnesses new technology to take the stress and confusion out of buying and selling homes while lowering consumer cost through a transaction-total commission of 2% compared to the 6% charged by most traditional brokers. By employing data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence, REX is able to price homes more accurately than traditional brokerages; then, target them to qualified buyers through Zillow, Google, Facebook, Trulia and more.

REX licensed agents are salaried and incentivized to focus their attention on the customer experience versus commission, In addition REX makes home buying and selling simpler by offering escrow, titling, mortgage and insurance, all in one place and at competitive rates.

Jack is a former partner at Goldman Sachs. After the firm went public, he went on to teach high school on the south side of Chicago. Jack then founded 22nd Century Media, a local newspaper chain, and has been a first-round investor in many successful companies, including Jack graduated from Dartmouth and holds a JD/MBA from Harvard University.

4. Katie Johnson, NAR

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are well aware of the massive antitrust lawsuits that have been filed against NAR and four corporate defendants. Moehrl v. NAR was the first, but Sitzer v. NAR came soon after, and it is not at all clear that those are the last we will see.

If the plaintiffs prevail, the entire system of residential real estate that has been built over a hundred years will crumble. No more cooperating compensation destroys the MLS as we know it, and might make half of the $70 billion or so in commissions disappear.

There are no higher stakes in a lawsuit.

And Katie Johnson, as the General Counsel of NAR, is the person charged with defending the industry from such an outcome.

One can scarcely imagine the weight on her shoulders. No matter how many outside law firms are hired, no matter how many top antitrust defense attorneys are brought in, it is ultimately Katie’s decision as the chief attorney for NAR as to how the industry will respond. Add in the general counsels and outside counsel for four of the largest companies in real estate — Realogy, HomeServices of America, Keller Williams and RE/MAX — and her talent in coordinating and organizing a coherent response will be tested.

I don’t think it’s too far of an analogy to say that Katie Johnson’s role in real estate today is not dissimilar from Eisenhower’s role in WWII: the commander who has to coordinate a multi-national war plan with extraordinarily competent generals and admirals with giant egos from different countries answering to different political leaders.

But Katie Johnson is not just NAR’s lawyer. She is also the Chief Member Experience Officer, a role that took on far greater importance in NAR after Bob Goldberg made member experience a central mission for NAR. So while she coordinates the legal defense of the industry, she must also execute on the central promise of the Goldberg era: turning the pyramid upside down and changing NAR from the National Association of REALTORS into the National Association for REALTORS.

No wonder her name is so often mentioned as one of the bright rising stars within NAR by people who should know. Katie Johnson is one of the most interesting people in real estate in 2019.

Official Bio

Katie Johnson is the General Counsel and Chief Member Experience Officer, National Association of REALTORS®, the nation’s largest trade association representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry.

Katie joined NAR in 2007 and was appointed as General Counsel in 2014. As General Counsel, she is responsible for assuring that the programs, policies, and activities of NAR are in compliance with the law. She also is responsible for defending the association against legal challenges and initiating litigation to protect and preserve association assets and policies. As NAR’s Chief Member Experience Officer, she leads initiatives to enhance member engagement and satisfaction through delivery of trusted knowledge, resources and experiences that elevate member success and professionalism.

Katie has earned a juris doctorate and a master’s degree for Information Technology and Privacy Law. She lives in Chicago with her husband and three children.


5. Newsday’s Long Island Divided Team

[NOTE: The photo above is for the project, not of the team at Newsday who put the story together. They declined to provide a photo of the journalists and editors who worked for three years on the story and noted that the team includes people from many departments, including those who are not reporters. Credit goes to the entire Newsday team and the organization.]

As we enter 2020, one of the biggest events to have happened in 2019 will be the publication of a three-year investigation into Long Island real estate by the reporters, editors, and others on the team at Newsday, the local paper for Long Island. The story, Long Island Divided, has been a major feature.

Newsday trained 25 undercover testers, equipped them with hidden cameras, then sent them out to see whether real estate agents would treat them fairly and equally and avoid steering. 93 agents were tested. 240 hours of meetings recorded. 5,763 listings analyzed. A number of them failed that test. 49% of blacks, 39% of Hispanics, and 19% of Asians were treated unequally.

There can be little doubt that Newsday’s investigation unearthed the ugly truth about what is actually happening on the ground in Long Island. And it has resulted in serious action.

As I wrote in my Seven Predictions post, legislators and regulators are on this issue like white on rice:

Already, we have Governor Cuomo of NY announcing an investigation and more regulation:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed the Division of Human Rights, the Division of Homes and Community Renewal and Department of State to launch a joint investigation into reports of widespread discrimination among real estate agents on Long Island. On November 17, Newsday reported the results of an undercover investigation into housing discrimination on Long Island. The probe’s deeply troubling findings include evidence suggesting real estate agents on Long Island engage in discriminatory conduct with disturbing frequency—including imposing unequal conditions and steering clients toward certain neighborhoods depending on their perceived race or ethnicity.

The Attorney General of New York announced an investigation by the Civil Rights Division:

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) will investigate allegations of housing discrimination on Long Island following a Newsday report alleging numerous fair housing violations by brokering firms.

Two state legislators who cover much of Long Island have asked Ben Carson, the Secretary of HUD, to investigate:

U.S. Reps. Kathleen Rice and Thomas Suozzi will call on U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to investigate evidence of unequal treatment of minorities by real estate agents on Long Island — as reported in an extensive Newsday investigation, the Democratic lawmakers’ offices said Monday.

I don’t imagine Dr. Carson will turn them down, do you?

But they’re not going to just wait, because the New York Senate has already scheduled hearings (which happened as I’m writing this).

And those will not be the end of the impact of that story.

Racial discrimination of any kind, unequal treatment on the basis of race, and racial steering are truly ugly remnants of a bygone era that need to remain bygone. That we have to deal with this issue in 2019 and into 2020 is deeply unfortunate, but the team at Newsday deserves every accolade, every award, and our deep appreciation for what they managed to uncover.

They are collectively one of the most interesting people in the industry today, even if they’re not actually “in” the industry because of their contribution to the moral health of the real estate industry.

Taken from Newsday’s About Us Page


The new Newsday experience builds on a tradition of journalistic excellence that is not going away. Newsday will retain and enhance its award winning investigative, feature and documentary units, as well as its cadre of experienced and locally knowledgeable beat reporters.

The newspaper you grew up reading will remain your trusted eye on Long Island. We are doubling down as a watchdog that protects you with deep investigations into government corruption and waste, environmental contamination and potential dangers to Long Island families and children

Newsday understands that truth is power — and that power belongs in your hands. We will continue to be unrelenting in our local coverage.


New York City, the center of global media, often focuses more attention on Manhattan and the world than on the concerns of almost three million residents of Nassau and Suffolk counties. Newsday will continue to offer incisive coverage of world events, but with a critical eye to how they affect us at home.

Our 19 Pulitzer Prizes didn’t happen by accident. No news organization covers Long Island like Newsday. And no other media can provide modern, all-purpose digital access with the soul of a beat reporter.

Of course, not everything that happens in Nassau County affects Suffolk County, or the East End, and vice versa. Now, with a multimedia, digital format, you will be able to precisely focus on the news and deep content most relevant to you.”

One thing will never change — our core values of journalistic excellence, integrity and commitment to improving the quality of life on Long Island.

6. Emily Chenevert, ABOR/ACTRIS

One of the hardest jobs in the real estate industry has to be that of the local AE (Association Executive). It requires the sensibilities of a diplomat, administrative skills of a President, vision and leadership of a CEO, and the political savvy of a lobbyist. And on the whole, it tends to be a thankless job that defers constantly to the elected volunteer leadership.

There are, to be sure, local AEs who have transcended the job title and have become industry icons, like Bob Hale in Houston and Teresa King Kinney in Miami. But among the younger generation of leaders, none have done it as well or with as much aplomb as Emily Chenevert, the CEO of the 13,000-member Austin Board of REALTORS.

She has already undertaken major reforms in governance and put forth bold new ideas (like separating the MLS and the Association):

To enable volunteers to get their work done more efficiently, Chenevert implemented the communication tool WorkSpace by Facebook and reorganized the association’s governance structure. “We cut our committee structure in half, and we found new opportunities for direct member involvement and engagement in the association,” she says. Previously, decision-making was often mired in process: An initiative would go to a task force, then to a committee, and then the board of directors, but then it might have been sent back to the committee. It could take months before they could proceed on an initiative, she says. “Under our new governance structure, we’ve found that we’re much nimbler and more responsive, and we’ve diversified the voices we’re hearing from.”

Another major restructuring still underway at the association is the divorce of the MLS and the association.

“Despite the fact that I run both the association and the MLS, I recognize the difference between them, and I think it’s imperative for associations to determine what their independent value proposition is to our membership apart from the MLS,” says Chenevert. “And that can be scary for associations that wholly own their MLSs like we do, because the MLS is our greatest asset and often the driver for connecting with members. But I think we have to separate those entities and manage them more deliberately and independently so that each one can be successful.” The Austin board and its MLS recently adopted separate strategic plans, mission statements, and financials.

[Disclosure: I assisted Emily and ABOR with some of their initiatives in 2019.]

Take a look at this video as an example of the new direction that Emily brought to ABOR:

A former GAD (Government Affairs Director), Emily brings the all-important perspective that a central mission of the REALTOR Association is to speak truth to power and to lobby on behalf of its members and their clients: the homeowners and those who wish to be homeowners. ABOR has one of the best government affairs operations in the industry, and Emily is no small part of that competence.

As if all of that were not enough, Emily hosts one of the best industry podcasts in real estate, Scratch That. It deals with real issues in the industry, for example, the recent MLS Policy 8.0, which ABOR opposed, with intelligence and insight.

It’s not about whether you agree or disagree with the people on the podcast; it’s about the quality of discussion and debate, and the smarts that Emily brings to them.

So taken all together, I think Emily Chenevert is one of the most interesting people in real estate. She is a true rising star who has major responsibilities today, but will have bigger roles to play in the future.

Official Bio

Emily Chenevert is the chief executive officer of the Austin Board of REALTORS®, a 13,000-member organization with a $15 million annual budget. She is the youngest and first female CEO hired by the organization.

Chenevert began her tenure at ABoR as director of public and government affairs, where she managed campaigns for housing affordability and advocated for private property rights of homeowners. She has a long track record of advocating for REALTORS® and their businesses at local, state and national levels of government. Under her tenure of leadership at ABoR, she has regionalized ABoR’s footprint and member services, championed MLS listings data integrity standards, and led ABoR through two five-year strategic plans and a successful rebrand.

Chenevert has a wealth of industry knowledge at both the national and local level, particularly in Central Texas. Earlier in her career, she managed relationships with REALTOR® associations for the Texas Association of REALTORS®. She also managed marketing efforts for two master-planned communities in the Central Texas region.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts in government from The University of Texas at Austin. She is a member of the HousingWorks Austin board of directors and a graduate of Leadership Austin.

7. Sharran Srivatsa

I find it difficult to believe that any reader of mine doesn’t already know about Sharran Srivatsaa, CEO of Kingston Lane, former CEO of Teles Properties, and one of the most influential people not just in real estate but in the world of business overall. But let’s talk about him anyhow.

He’s been profiled in places like Entrepreneur Magazine:

In 2011, Sharran Srivatsaa walked away from his banking job on Wall Street to become the president of Beverly Hills-based Teles Properties. At the time, the luxury real estate brokerage was making over $300 million annually, but it was far from its original growth projections. In just five years, Srivatsaa and his partners transformed the company into a business worth more than $3 billion — increasing its value 10 times over.

Srivatsaa is now a venture capitalist, sought-after business coach, and the CEO of real estate software company Kingston Lane. He has earned a comfortable lifestyle, but things weren’t always that way. After immigrating to the United States from India as a teenager, Srivatsaa had a stroke of bad luck that led him to “dumpster diving” for food.

And Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Huffington Post, Inc., Success, Bloomberg Business, and so on and so forth. Here’s an interview that Sharran did on The Passionate Few that tells his story:

He is a highly sought after speaker who has keynoted Inman, High Status Summit, and dozens of other events both here and abroad. And if you think that you’re a decent speaker (like I do), then you need to attend a Sharran speech to know that you have a loooong way to go to master the craft as he has.

He is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met, but one who is 100% grounded in business realities. You’re not going to get a lot of bullshit or generalities with Sharran; you get practical, do this today and be successful, do that tomorrow and make more money, type of advice from him.

I think he might be the best salesperson I’ve ever met, and I work in an industry filled to the brim with some of the best salespeople in the world selling multi-million dollar mansions and dreams every single day. I’m reasonably convinced that he could sell ice to eskimos, if he tried.

I honestly, genuinely believe that if you own a real estate company that is in trouble, and you want to turn it around, Sharran Srivatsaa should be your first phone call. Well, maybe your second call after you call me? Because I’ll likely tell you to call Sharran, depending on what it is you want to do….

But really, the best thing about Sharran and what makes him so interesting, is that he is so humble, so down to earth, so human and so likable that you wonder if you have a personality flaw by comparison. Well, I do anyhow. How a man goes from such humble beginnings, grows a company to $3 billion, reaches the pinnacle of success, and still avoids even the shred of arrogance or imperiousness is amazing.

I am proud to count him among my friends, and proud to say that he is one of the seven most interesting people in real estate today.

Official Bio

Sharran Srivatsaa is the CEO of Kingston Lane, a push-button technology execution platform for real estate. Sharran is a sought after keynote speaker and a respected thought-leadership resource for publications such as the Wall Street Journal, SUCCESS magazine, Huffington Post and Forbes. Most recently, he grew Teles Properties by 10x in 5 years, 4-year consecutive streak on the Inc. 500 list and led its acquisition to national real estate powerhouse Douglas Elliman, after which he served as the President of Brokerage for the Western Region.

Prior to Teles, Sharran worked at both Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse, where he collaborated with management teams of fast-growing businesses around the country on investment advisory and corporate strategy. A member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and the Founder of the 5am Club, Sharran, who spent several years building recreational programs in the Caribbean, Middle East, and Hawaii for some of the finest international resorts such as the Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton, also has deep experience working with technology companies such as Lightera (acquired by CIENA) and Obopay, a fast-growth mobile payments company. Sharran also serves on numerous boards as co-founder, investor, and advisor to innovative real estate/technology companies.

Sharran received his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Luther College and his MBA with Honors from Vanderbilt University. Sharran lives in Orange County with his family.

Final Note

The nice thing about the Interesting List, instead of say the Influencers or Power200, is that the criteria is so subjective. This is my list and reasons why I find them interesting. If you think this person or that person is more interesting than my seven, you are free to write your own list and say why.

And as I did last year, I’d like to point out that while Rich Barton is #1 on the list this year, and the other six are plenty interesting, there is one person who will always be the most interesting person in or out of real estate, who transcends all lists.



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Rob Hahn

Rob Hahn

Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

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2 thoughts on “The Seven Most Interesting People in Real Estate, 2019 Edition”

  1. I think y’all–and I’m including the good doctor and judge–did a fine job.

    Z… yeah, lots of changes. 2.0 may not be complete, but it’s in full swing and there’s no turning back. Interesting to watch.

    And that Newsday team should get a Pulitzer.

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