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Greg Sax and Mark Lesswing

Greg Sax and Mark Lesswing.

by G. Sax, Director of Growth Management, RESO

Welcome to “Three Questions,” an interview series that introduces you to real estate industry professionals, their businesses and how they interact with real estate standards with a goal of humanizing the tech side of the industry, fun included.

This week we sat with Mark Lesswing, Owner of Lesswing, LLC, long-time supporter of RESO (as in he is one of the OGs that helped make it happen!) and chair of the RESO Distributed Ledger Workgroup. We talked about the pros and cons of private consultancy, thinking ahead and the next technological revolution. Enjoy!

Q1: As the chair of the Distributed Ledger Workgroup, you are obviously passionate about distributed ledgers, event catalogs and other future-facing technologies like NFTs, crypto and Web3. Do you think that the rest of real estate will catch on to these technologies and, if so, when will we turn that corner?

Mark: The real estate industry is influenced by consumers and consumer preference, which drives all the innovation that happens. These newer techs put the control back into the consumer’s hands – things like privacy, “my data,” etc.

Those who are selling will move to where the consumers are located. Since those same consumers are customers of the MLS, the MLS will move in that direction.

Normally, it would take from three to five years, but I believe that this particular shift will take upwards of ten years.

It’s a co-operative environment that we have here. Getting all the partners to adapt to the shift takes time.

Q2: Have you always been “looking ahead” in tech? If so, what can you point to from the distant past that you were right about and got into early enough to be expert at before others?

Mark: I used to work at a company doing mainframe things and got into relational databases early on. Part of my segment was the telecommunications industry, and they were getting into the C++ programming language.

I got a chance to meet Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie, who wrote the book on C++. We were doing relational databases (i.e., rows and columns), and they were doing objects.

A lot of people weren’t doing object-oriented programming yet, and it was just so interesting from a configuration standpoint.  

At that time, I was exposed to a language called Oak, which later became Java. What I found useful was the ability to execute code across servers. This seems so simple, but it became the client-server model which allowed businesses to adopt the Internet. I happened to be fortunate to be exposed to the movement early.

Q3: You have dipped in and out of working for large institutions and working under your own private consultancy shingle. For you, what are the pros and cons of working within an institution vs. being the institution?

Mark: The pros of being part of a big group is the reach it has and the legitimacy it brings. When your sphere is smaller, you can pursue more creative projects. For example, I was surprised by how many pieces the “gamer” world brought to remote work when the pandemic struck. Their passion created some useful implementations.

It’s easy to see what I’m driven by, and it’s not always profit driven. I am an academic at heart. I’ve always enjoyed helping others see the world the way I do. And when I guide, I want to back it up with facts.