Thinking Critically: My Time at Opendoor

Over the last couple of months I’ve moved away from leading a cross-functional team to doing IC work remotely (will be a separate post later). As I’m a little more distant from the business (geography & nature of what I’ve been spending time on for the last month or so) I was trying to articulate for myself why I believe Opendoor’s succeeded so far and why to be bullish / bearish about the co. especially as I exercise more options (commit $$ to the co). Harder to share what’s still to be done & what I think the challenges that remain are, I found this a very useful exercise. Particularly so as I’m spending more time with new companies and what’s the must solve hypothesis for them at their earliest stages.

Please note: This is my opinion based on observations. Sharing this but redacting parts that might be considered sensitive.

Company execution: 

  • Customer experience / Customer focus. NPS – word of mouth 
  • Capital markets 
  • Pricing algorithms 
  • Internal tools 
  • Product marketing – “sell your house hassle free”
  • Complex ops management 
  • Analytics – ops, pick markets, etc 
  • Home entry: Text to enter 
  • Ability to launch markets 
  • Recruit A+ talent. Constantly. 

Timing & necessary conditions: 

  • Low interest rates 
  • Macro up cycle 
  • MLS data open with history of transactions 
  • Repeatable housing 

Where the business is yet to succeed:

  • Adjacent Services (sort of already done but more broadly)
  • Survive a downcycle
  • Competition (welcome, public company)
  • Margins

Why I’d still bet on opendoor: 

  • Huge, huge, huge market. 
  • Truly a better experience for customer 
  • Margins at scale

Enduring moats: 

  • Flywheel
  • Brand equity & trust in the marketplace
  • Internal operations tooling ?

It was also an opportunity for me to take stock of where I think I excelled and had the greatest impact.

My impact at Opendoor: 

  • Solving complex problems at the intersection of technology and operations and regulated businesses. Always driving to simplify and using software and ops processes to drive better outcomes
  • I’ve been a general purpose human more than anything else
  • Had the chance to original support team in Phoenix: 0 -> 1 -> 5. Original playbook, scripting, tooling. Today team is 50+ people. 
  • Data analytics + bots to drive operational leverage
  • Brokerage: spec’d & lead building of transaction management platform & ops playbook for compliance in 1st state (AZ). Gold star from regulator.  Playbook scaled
  • Canonical work: winding down Opendoor Mortgage 1.0 (beta), strategy for 2.0 and scrapping, core team to launch 3.0. (Mortgages @ Opendoor needs to be a book, lol)
  • lFor 3.0: Leading cross functional growth team. 3 eng, pm, 1 pmm, 1 CX ops, and 1 analyst

By varadh

My general mission in life is to be helpful to people building products that have a positive impact on the world. If you're building something awesome, I'd love to chat: 🤖