Zillow Acquires Trulia For $3.5 Billion

Zillow and Trulia are two of the largest online real estate listings that millions of people use to sell, buy or rent a home. And today Zillow said it is acquiring Trulia for $3.5 billion  in a “stock-for-stock” transaction and expects to close by 2015  according to this press release.  With this acquisition Zillow will become the largest online real estate company. Interestingly, both companies are expected to work under their own brands. But, what does that mean for realtors and real estate agents?

Last week Bloomberg broke the news about a probable merger between the two online real estate companies. With this mega merger the two online real estate gaints expect to combine their pooled resources to innovate, get greater access to real estate market data  and cut costs as they point out in the press release.

Pete Flint and Sami Inkinen started San Francisco-based Trulia in 2005. Apparently the  idea for Trulia came from their personal  experiences of trying to find a place to rent in SF bay area.

Seattle-based Zillow was founded in 2006 in Seattle by  Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink, who formerly worked for Microsoft. They tried to sell homes by auction, but that  turned out to be a disaster as Barton shared in this interview.

Gilroy Garlic Festival 2014

I just got back from the famous Gilroy Garlic Festival. Today is the first day, and apparently the best time to visit if you want to beat the huge crowd. For years I vicariously read about the garlic festival, but never gathered the courage to venture down down to Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world. This year I finally decided enough is enough and I should go and check out this 3-day celebration of stinking rose that takes place right in my backyard. And for heaven’s sake we use garlic in our cooking on a regular basis. It was about time to find out a little bit more about Allium sativum, an intensely pungent bulb that you can alway find in our kitchen.

The festival was quite an eye-opener. It was both interesting and educational  to see how creatively garlic is used  – right from garlic infused wine to garlic fries. I tasted the wine and quite liked it and I can see that wine paired with a nice plate of pasta. Since this was my first time I did not make it to all the events and missed out tasting that famous garlic ice-cream that is served free. Here is a tip if you get in early make a beeline for the garlic ice-cream stand since that is the number one question that folks will ask you. Trust me on this one.The other thing  I missed out was the cook-out competition, which is a big crowd pleaser. Next time I know what I need to taste and see.

I spent my time either dawdling or running around interviewing people. For example, I stood  transfixed by the culinary antics of the famous pyro chefs. It was quite fascinating to see how these chefs worked their magic and barely flinched when the flames leapt a couple of feet into the air as they were cooking their dishes. I got to meet the famous Mr. Garlic, who is the ambassador to the festival. There was a special wine tent with local wineries from Santa Clara Valley and one of them had that garlic infused wine, which I had to try.

And did I mention the food that is served there? What is your recommendation I asked a bunch of folks and most of them mentioned the garlic scampi and garlic fries. I skipped the fries, but tried the scampi, which was pretty good.

I managed to walk around and see most of the booths at the festival and realized that the next time I should be better prepared and arrive a little earlier so that I can beat the heat.

If  you go to Gilroy’s Garlic Festival do check the weather and how hot it is going to be. Don’t be fooled by the weather in the bay area. It gets pretty hot down in Gilroy and it is best to wear a hat or carry a brolly. And remember to carry a bottle of water.


Video: Paul Lazarus on Dean Kamen

Filmmaker Paul Lazarus’s new documentary “Slingshot” made its global premier at this year’s Cinequest Film Festival.  The film was a clear success with the audience judging from the standing ovation it received. I caught up with Lazarus to find out how and why he made this film and why water? How does Kamen do what he does with that astonishing focus? How doe he keep at it every day of the week? Would you not like to know that? Innovation is a messy business points out Kamen, and yet he is at it everyday. And how does Kamen get to lead his childhood dream? Many of us dream about it, but very few get to lead that childhood dream and Kamen is one of them. You can watch the highlights of the interview with Lazarus, and we have a longer, in-depth interview coming up.

“Slingshot” is an in-depth profile of Dean Kamen and his quest to invent and introduce an economical and efficient water filter system. Water, a fundamental requirement for every human being, is still not easily available to millions of people around the world. Millions of peoples still can’t turn a tap on to get a glass of potable water. They have to travel to a nearby well, pump or spring to get their pot of potable water. Why do people have to travel to get water. How can water be made available in an accessible way is the question that Kamen thought about and came up with a solution. By finding a solution to the water problem you minimize the cause of major diseases in the world points out Kamen in the film.

After years of diligent work Kamen and his team succeeded in creating a water filter that can take any kind of water and turn it into clean, potable water. “Slingshot” traces that difficult and arduous journey of Kamen, a successful and prolific inventor and entrepreneur. Being successful did not easily translate into traction for the product as we discover in the film. He and his team go through many iterations before they they find the right solution. You would think that such a solution would be easy to distribute and install. But, that is not the case. Kamen struggles and eventually ends up teaming up with Coco-Cola, who have a well-established global distribution channel.



Video: Ralph Steadman, Hunter S. Thompson and Gonzo Journalism

Ralph Steadman is a well-known artist and illustrator from Britain and a long-time collaborator of American writer Hunter S. Thompson. Steadman did all the illustrations for Thompson’s writings, including “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” which first appeared in Rolling Stone magazine.

Thompson is credited with the term Gonzo journalism. Here is a wonderful, in-depth interview with Thompson from The Paris Review. But wait,  what about an in-depth interview with Steadman, who captured all that intense, crazy energy of Thompson’s writings? That is the gap that  Charlie and Lucy Paul’s documentary “For No Good Reason” fills in very nicely. The film takes you behind the scenes and into the life of Steadman, a prolific artist and illustrator. You actually get to see how Steadman starts on his painting projects and how that piece of art then takes an organic life of its own. An interesting aspects of the documentary is how Steadman photographs the progress of his paintings with a camera that is  mounted on top of the aisle. Ever so often yo9u will see him reach out to the camera and go click and grab a photo of his work in progress. It also shows us a different side of Steadman – his love for gadgets and technology.

In the film we get to see a fairly in-depth side of Steadman and how his unlikely friendship with Thompson developed and how the two worked together. Besides working with Thompson, Steadman has worked on a number of different things, including a project on the legendary and gifted artist Leonordo da Vinci. One of the most interesting aspects of the documentary is how Steadman photographs the progress of his paintings with a camera that he has mounted on top of the aisle. What this does is gives us, the viewer, a sense of how that piece of art took shape. Besides Steadman, we also meet Johnny Depp, who was a good friend of Thompson and has acted in a couple of films based on Thompson’s books. They are “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” and “Rum Diary.”

Here is a teaser from a longer interview we did with Charlie and Lucy Steadman about their documentary “For No Good Reason”that released on  July, 2014 in the San Francisco bay area.


Video: Zach Braff on his new film “Wish I Was Here”

Zach Braff is an actor, writer and producer. His directorial debut “The Garden State,” won him lots of praise and fans. He now has a second film that he directed, acted and co-wrote “Wish I Was Here.”

Braff was in San Francisco recently to promote his new film. Here is a teaser of the interview that we did with him. We were curious to know how Braff  got Mandy Patinkin to act in the film given his busy shooting for Showtime’s “Homeland” series.  He plays Saul Berenson in the series.

If you are wondering about the tile of the film – apparently it was inspired by those postcards folks used to send when they were traveling. Remember those postcards? Maybe postcards are a novelty for those who grew up in the Internet age.

Here is our interview with Braff on the making of his film, Mandy Patamkin and why he went the Kickstarter route to raise money for his film.

Video: Earthquake Preparedness With Chris Hall

California is an earthquake prone state and having an earthquake go back is part and parcel of your life. Earthquake faults run both in Northern and Southern California. In the last 100 years there were two major earthquakes, both of which occurred in Northern California. One was the 1906 earthquake of San Francisco described as one of the “most devastating” one in California. The second major earthquake is the Loma Preita quake in 1989 that started in Santa Cruz mountains that caused extensive damage in San Francisco and Oakland area. This earthquake famously damaged the Bay bridge.

How do you stay prepared for an earthquake? What essentials do you need to have in an emergency kit? Where do you keep the earthquake go bag?  What should the earthquake survival kit contain besides water, food, clothes & flashlight? What is duck, cover and hold? What is triangle of life? Is triangle of safe a recommended tip? We had so many many questions.

We turned to Chris Hall, an earthquake and emergency preparedness consultant in Silicon Valley for tips and suggestions.

Video: Happy July 4th

Happy July 4th to those celebrating the American Independence day. It was on this day in 1776 that the United States of America declared its independence from the British.

A couple of years ago, we drove up to Calfiornia’s Gold country to witness a traditional July 4th parade. We drove from the San Francisco bay area to Columbia State Park and arrived just in time to find a parking spot. It was a bright, hot summer day and we followed the crowd and made a beeline to Fallon Ice Cream parlor for a much-need respite from the heat. This old-fashioned  ice-cream shop, which seemed to the place to cool down. And who do we clap our eyes upon entering the shop? We came  face-to face with Mark Twain himself.  You see during the gold rush period in California a young Mark Twain spent his time in this part of the world and wrote his first essay “The Jumping Frogs of Calaveras”  in 1865.

Here is a short video from that July 4th celebration. I wish we had stayed back for the dance competition, which looked like a lot of fun. We had come ill-prepared to battle the hot sun and the rising temperature. We beat a hasty retreat to a nearby place to partake in a glass of tall lemonade and salad.

If you plan to attend this traditional parade do check the temperatures, wear sunscreen and the right clothes to enjoy the parade.