New COO for Privateproperty

Apparently Privateproperty.co.za’s new COO, Simon Bray’s background is anything but conventional, and that’s what the South African property portal likes about him. Simon Gray started out as an Engineering student, majored in Marketing, notched up Fashion Designer and Software Entrepreneur as part of his experience, and finally landed at Privateproperty.co.za.

His eclectic skills mix is well suited to the Privateproperty.co.za business: “We exist to shape the current and future state of the real estate industry. We believe we can make a positive and lasting difference to the way the industry works. We RE-IMAGINE a better way to live and work and we make sure we have fun while we’re doing it.”

Simon joined the Privateproperty.co.za team in August 2011 when it bought Howzitt, a small estate agency software start-up, and integrated Inview, the agency’s flagship product, into its market-leading Fusion software. After being involved on the agency software side for just under a year, Simon headed up the Product and Technology department where he gained a deeper understanding of the full scope of the business.

“Privateproperty.co.za has gone through a rapid evolution from being an upstart private sales “agency” to becoming the dominant property classifieds portal, all in the course of five short years. Over that time great people have added their unique style and edge to the mix, from crazy developers to bullish CEOs. Along the way Privateproperty.co.za has taken innovative steps and sometimes made unpopular decisions but has always been respected as a market leader in online property advertising.”

Simon goes on to say that the history of this young company and its set of strong values are full of lofty ideals and world changing rhetoric. “It would have us believe we can do anything we set our minds to, overcome any challenge and achieve great things. Under the rigours of this industry and the attritions of everyday business it is easy to lose some of that fire. But we are shifting the conversation: we’re focusing once again on our customers and the browser experience. We are intent on providing valuable solutions and in doing so are positive that we will earn a special place in the hearts of SA’s property people.

“As COO I hope to bring you news of some of the great new products and services we have planned for release this year, from a beautiful new look to a completely personal way to interact with the properties you love … but there’ll be plenty of time for all that. For now just rest assured that Privateproperty.co.za is on its way back to its innovative, fun-loving self, all the while aiming to make our users’ lives better.”

As product developer – which still makes up a major component of Simon’s portfolio, he starts by eavesdropping on real browsers, stepping through process flows and knocking up visual interface ideas long before a line of code is written. He believes that imagining a new product, developing a software system or building a business strategy all require a crystal-clear vision. “Whiteboard” first, succeed second.

“The online world of property professionals and property browsers is my passion. I hope to bring a new level of convenience and desirability to one of the oldest industries on earth: finding your next home.”

Simon the part-time surfer lists, among other things, ergonomics as an interest. He’s also a keen observer of industrial and architectural design, as well fishing activities along the KZN coast.

Comments

  1. For a good laugh… I walked into my brother’s office on January 6, 1996 and said “F*** the agents! We are going to offer properties direct to buyers without commissions.

    I wrote the first version of HomeLink, which went online in July 1996. My brother took that idea and developed http://www.privateproperty.co.za with Trevor Esterhuizen and ePages doing the development.

    I initially had a confirmation from Trevor that his understanding was that I had 33% of the business I had conceived and written the first version for. Due to a communication breakdown with my brother my 33% was disolved and sold to Justin Clarke, Andrew Taylor and Charles Taylor. My brother came up with the idea of involving East Coast Radio, which was the reason for the fast rise of PPL. They subsequently broke away and bought him out when he was away in the UK.

    PrivateProperty turned out to be a curse for both Paul and Justin. My view is that Justin would not have been on a skiing holiday when his accident happened as he would not have been living the high life without what it gave him. What would he have done had he known what fate it would bring him.

    It took me 6 years of hard real-estate property software development to get to the idea I was willing to share with others. You will not know how much I suffered and slogged to get HomeBase running in 80 real estate offices. HomeBase led to HomeLink which led to PrivateProperty. In the end, justice prevailed. Karma is karma. What goes around, comes around.

    Now you know!

    Regards,
    Adrian Fourie

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