By Duke Long, Managing Partner, PUR Ventures
There are a growing number of tech start-ups creating new commercial real estate tools as solutions to the same old way we’ve been doing things. I think these ten companies engaged in commercial real estate technology warrant attention in the months and years ahead. Here’s my perspective on why:
5 You Already Know:
VTS: Merging with HighTower was a savvy move and now they are poised to take on the world with unprecedented talent. Know why? Let the owner of a sixty-building portfolio tell you: “Every day every hour every minute I have my portfolio of leasing data in front of me in a simple, beautiful display. My teams now work with each other across the platform and it helps us make decisions instantly. Compare that to what in the past would have taken weeks.” High quality, visual, actionable data gold.
Opendoor: Ok, I acknowledge it’s not exactly a commercial real estate play, but what if it’s just a REIT? Is that too far of a reach? Blackstone has a 50k+ house REIT. I know the guy that started it for them. Guess what he told me? “It was the technology that enabled us to put the deal together and manage the portfolio.” Why not just look at how they do the entire transaction and follow the same model? Seems simple enough to me.
Cadre: What kind of platform would you create if you wanted to do just your own deals? What if you wanted to fund those deals with wealthy investors? What if those investors could down the road have the ability to “sell” their shares in a way similar to the stock market? What if those investors did not have to foot the bill for the normal fund 2 and 20 management fees? Raise $68 million from some of the smartest real estate and tech investors in the world and go hire talent so good CEOs of other companies fly in to try and keep them from jumping ship. Tell me you saw this coming. You didn’t.
Ten-X: Worldwide online commercial real estate transaction platform. The entire transaction. Think of the pipeline. Discovery to what? To close. It may be a law somewhere that makes it mandatory that I mention one of their main backers is The Google. What is the big focus of Ten-X? Engage and develop relationships with brokers, because that’s where the deals and transactions start. Transactions equals dollars. For everyone.
WeWork: In the next five years, how much of the workforce will be untethered? Interesting that WeWork started out with funding from building owners. WeWork is also starting to develop and build their own buildings. What have they figured out? Efficiencies from property management to BIM. Using technology to do what? Build, acquire, and manage assets with technology. Are they just a better developer and broker than anyone else because of their use of that technology? Name the best out there now. They have to be in the top 5. “WeWork is not a broker. WeWork is not a broker.” Repeat that to yourself every day. It may help calm your nerves.
5 You Should Know Soon
Floored: Why did CBRE acquire them? Let’s start with the CEO David Eisenberg. Pure brilliance of tech and commercial real estate in one package. Is it possible to be as visible and as well-known as he is and still be under the radar? I listen to him, always. Every other tech CEO/investor/ developer/marketer/broker savant does. Can we keep that kind of talent in commercial real estate? We better. Need a breakdown of what the acquisition means? Competition for deals. Don’t get it? Think harder.
Honest Buildings: What do they do? “Honest Buildings is the collaborative, data-driven technology that empowers smart decision making, ensuring capital and construction projects are on time and on budget.” Think about the process of construction today. Design to build has to be the most inefficient and wasteful process on the planet. Solve that problem and? Serious money. That’s what Honest Buildings does.
RealMassive: Are they just building a database? What’s the big deal? You can market, search, promote, analyze, and track metrics all on one platform. It’s a commercial real estate digital marketplace. Still not getting it? What is the best source of real time market data and the tools to use that data in your backyard? Who owns it? Who is their competition? Are they your competition?
Digsy: They say they make the process of finding space easy. Don’t we all. They say they have real humans working to help. They sure about that? If you are a user/tenant what is it that you want the most? To move your business NOW! How much do you care about the process of the transaction? ZERO. And that’s the entire point. The user does not care about your school, your football team, your affinity for golf. They care about MOVING. They also want an experience they are used to and that experience is online! Don’t think so? Digsy does. By the way, started and funded by former big-time commercial real estate brokers.
Comfy: By giving everyone a choice in their personal comfort, Comfy delivers immediate happiness and powerful analytics to better inform your workplace decisions. Data coming directly from the actual users of the workplace. Think about what that means. Put that together with Investments from The Google, CBRE, and little old Microsoft, to name a few, and what do you get? Happiness.