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In the wake of its July merger with PropertyFirst, San Francisco-based LoopNet has been doing some boasting–claiming such titles as #1 in commercial real estate online and having more free listings, more members and more market coverage than any competitor. Adjectives aside, the raw numbers are impressive, and president and CEO Richard Boyle explains that the service currently has some 225,000 registered members–close to 5,500 of whom are paid subscribers. Sale and lease listings tally 169,000, which pencils out to $130 billion in sale inventory and two billion sf in leasing inventory. And the merged operation is really just getting started. Last month Boyle and company rolled out the first post-merger product enhancement based on the aggregate databases of both firms. Now, Boyle tells GlobeSt.com, the effort will be on strengthening its offerings.

GlobeSt.com: This has been a roller-coaster year for dot-coms in general. How do you read the tracks in the sand?

Boyle: I think the landscape is greatly clarified in that those companies that have sustainable business models and provide real products and services are finding their way through the funding climate.

GlobeSt.com: Is this the best time to launch new products and other enhancements to any online platform–especially a paid service?

Boyle: There are pros and cons in the macroeconomic sense. It’s a tough climate. But in another sense, people are looking in this climate to market their properties more effectively, so we believe that will serve us well. Also, you have to consider that the merger was not the function of any specific economic climate. LoopNet has been around for six years now, and our growth was such that that the merger–at this time–was the next logical business step to take.

GlobeSt.com: During the so-called dot-bomb phase of the economic slump we heard repeatedly that the failure was due to internet firms using the technology as an end in itself rather than filling a need. Is that true?

Boyle: I agree with the premise. They weren’t filing a sufficient need. A number of companies were perhaps trying to fill a need but it wasn’t a large enough need to sustain the model. But dot-com executives can get distracted by the technology and forget the value proposition to their customers. With us, it’s an issue of critical mass–what sustains us is our breadth of use, with 200,000 members and a national platform that provides brokers with the ability to reach beyond their local markets.

GlobeSt.com: Post-merger, what’s the growth curve look like for LoopNet?

Boyle: The rate at which we gain members has been constant– between 5,000 and 8,000 per month.

GlobeSt.com: Do you ever see a point at which you’ll drive the transaction home and offer online closings?

Boyle: At the end of the day, the commercial real estate transaction is a complicated and highly nuanced conversation. We can bring the players together–that is our core skill–but the intermediaries themselves have to continue to execute the deal.

GlobeSt.com: There are some platforms that are closing deals. Doesn’t that prove that real estate is not too complex to be done over the web?

Boyle: Online transactions are an adoption issue on the part of the brokers who manage the transaction. It will happen more universally at the point where they feel a transaction platform is more effective.

GlobeSt.com: What’s your take on the companies that form consortiums for the purpose of data sharing?

Boyle: It’s not a bad idea at all for competitors to work together to solve common problems, although I think some of them are moving farther afield than their core business models allow. Also, coming to a consensus can be difficult, and we’ve seen that it takes these consortiums substantial time to move. To that extent, it’s easier for a company like us that is not a hardcore real estate firm to partner with the industry and share information in a way that is openly collaborative

GlobeSt.com: Where do you want to be by this time next year in terms of the company’s growth?

Boyle: I certainly don’t have a good enough crystal ball to know how the economy will emerge from the current down cycle–especially as it is compounded by the recent atrocities. We’re focused on our core mission, our core constituency and our new product-and-service platform. We’ll push that pretty aggressively through the first half of next year along with some other complimentary products, such as our system for valuations that we’re doing for the Appraisal Institute–we intend to bring out a tool for reporting historical transaction data for comp reports. And we will continue to round out our product line.

GlobeSt.com: But what about revenues?

Boyle: We enjoyed 100% growth this year over last and we expect to do the same next year over this.

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