Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Post-Yahoo, Dapper Creators Now Want to Make Home Buying Easier

Jonathan Aizen and Paul Knegten created Dapper, an ambitious startup that set out to restructure atomic units of Internet content. After years of trying to explain what they were doing and why it was useful, Dapper turned itself into a dynamic advertising company, started bringing in significant revenue and was acquired by Yahoo for $80 million in 2010.

Jonathan Aizen

Jonathan Aizen

For Amitree, their next startup, Aizen and Knegten want to do something much more specific, where people can clearly see its value from the start. So they’ve built a tool to help people manage real estate transactions, especially during the 30-day closing period after an offer is accepted.

“Dapper was everything to everybody and nothing to anyone,” said Aizen — who was previously a teenage intern at Alexa, and later created the Internet Archive’s first website — in an interview this week.

Amitree’s first service, Closing Time — which is opening to the public today — is a to-do-list tool for buyers and agents to coordinate paperwork and inspections. It is a vertical, narrow and specific idea aimed at helping people get through what’s often a stressful and unfamiliar time of their lives.

While I can see the appeal of Closing Time’s clean and simple approach — it has a timeline, checklists, daily emails and sharing tools — it does seem to be a sort of glorified Google Docs.

Aizen, however, said the secret sauce is customizing the experience for a specific user, and doing so in plain English. So, after a user signs up and fills out a very basic questionnaire, Closing Time automatically creates a granular personalized set of tasks.

ClosingTimeAizen compares this to TurboTax — except where tax software can replace an accountant, Closing Time is meant to be used with an agent. (And later, if and when Closing Time starts charging, it will be the agents who pay.)

The self-funded Closing Time is now available in much of the U.S., but not in the 11 states who use an “attorney review” process, which includes New York.

Aizen said he anticipates making similar services for other complex life processes, like pregnancy and applying to college.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work