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The 13 Most Influential Leaders in PropTech

Actual Property know-how has traditionally been underfunded in comparison with different massive sectors.  The present panorama is powered by hundreds of disparate programs, with out an agreed to knowledge commonplace, making any important modernization of the trade extraordinarily difficult.  For as a few years as I can keep in mind, there was fixed speak in regards to the inevitable disruption of the true property trade, but little or no has modified over the previous 20 years.   Nonetheless, the tide is lastly turning and PropTech has turn out to be mainstream.  In response to the Middle for Actual Property Expertise & Innovation, investments in PropTech hit $32B in 2021.

As with all trade, significant change requires contributions and collaboration from many gamers, however there’s a small group of people who’ve a disproportionate degree of affect on the way forward for the PropTech trade.  I made a decision to place collectively an inventory of the 13 most influential PropTech leaders.  This listing is only my opinion.  There was not a survey that I performed, neither is there any science to my evaluation.  The people aren’t ranked so as, however I did group them by classes.

Residential Brokerages

Many organizations publish their very own annual listing of essentially the most influential leaders in Actual Property, and so they nearly at all times embody the C-Suite of the biggest residential brokerages (Realogy/Berkshire Hathaway House Providers).  I’ve large respect for the executives from each organizations, and so they clearly yield a major quantity of affect over the trade, however each corporations function what I might take into account to be conventional actual property brokerages.  I anticipate that conventional brokerages will proceed to dominate market share for the foreseeable future, and so they present an important service to tens of millions of consumers per 12 months.  However, I don’t see both firm essentially altering the trade.  Their fashions are tried and true, and though they may proceed to adapt to adjustments, I don’t see them as pioneers.  Change requires innovation and new methods of pondering, and every particular person on this listing has demonstrated their capability to convey distinctive fashions to market.

Glenn Sanford (eXp Realty)

Beginning an actual property model isn’t any small feat, and most corporations which can be making an attempt to make a reputation for themselves typically go after the luxurious market.  In the event that they open lovely workplaces in prestigious zip codes, recruit high brokers with massive bonuses, and rating some ultra-luxury listings, they’ll rapidly (however expensively) construct a model round shiny advertising collateral.  eXp took a special route.  eXp, which initially launched in 2009, targeted their progress technique on agent rely and digital workplaces.  They ended 2021 with over 70,000 brokers, representing a 69% enhance from the prior 12 months.  Glenn Sanford (Founder and CEO of eXp Realty) not too long ago introduced that they need to develop this quantity to 500,000 brokers inside the subsequent 5 years.  Agent rely apart, their enterprise mannequin is predicated fully round a digital neighborhood.  Whenever you evaluate this technique to conventional gamers with brick and mortar workplaces in each market that they serve (Realogy’s has approx. 670 firm owned workplaces), there may be important price financial savings that may be funneled all the way down to brokers and the corporate backside line.

Glenn Kelman (Redfin)

As I’ve written about up to now, I don’t imagine that the trail in direction of disruption runs by means of fee discounting.  Too many corporations have tried and did not construct a sustainable enterprise round decreased commissions.  There’s one exception to this rule: Redfin.  Redfin is just not a brand new participant (they’ve been round since 2002), however they’ve continued to outpace the market with their distinctive mannequin.  Not like most corporations that imagine that listings are king, Redfin initially devoted all of their assets in direction of consumers.  They constructed a really pleasant UI, and completely dominated in web optimization/SEM.  In response to Statista, was the preferred web site for search in 2021 for any web site that was owned and operated by a residential brokerage (18M Distinctive Month-to-month Guests).  Throughout my time working at brokerages that competed with Redfin, it was frequent that our purchasers would inform us that they performed their search on Redfin’s web site.  After increase market share throughout the nation, they expanded into the itemizing enterprise, providing a steep low cost when purchasers purchase and promote by means of them.  Profitability (or lack thereof) has been a criticism that Redfin has confronted, however I imagine that they’ve laid the muse for worthwhile progress within the years to come back.              

Robert Reffkin (Compass)

Previously, I’ve questioned Compass’s capability to ever be worthwhile.  This concern stays for me.  Compass, in my view, is a standard brokerage (fancy workplaces, excessive agent splits, conventional charge construction) which is per the Realogy and Berkshire Hathaway Properties Providers of the world, however they constructed one thing actually particular which is not like something I’ve seen earlier than them.  Over 8 years, Compass has recruited 20,000 brokers (some got here by means of M/A), opened up tons of of workplaces, has gone public, and has turn out to be a family identify.  What actually units Compass other than their friends is their tradition.  Each firm has horror tales, and I’m positive that Compass isn’t any totally different, however from the skin trying in, nearly all of their brokers undertaking a fierce loyalty like I’ve by no means seen within the brokerage world.  If I had been a gross sales affiliate getting into the trade, Compass could be on the high of my listing.  The argument will be made that anybody with $1.15B in money might accomplish this degree of progress, however I disagree.  Robert Reffkin (Co-Founder and CEO) has constructed a tradition crammed with firm delight that’s often solely discovered within the Googles and Apples of the world.  On the flip aspect, I don’t imagine that their present enterprise mannequin is sustainable in the long run, however I do have religion that they’ve what it takes to outlive and thrive.  Their success will probably be tied to their capability to create a real end-to-end working system which might essentially change the trade.  Not like a standard CRM, the profitable working system might want to reveal true efficiencies for each agent and shopper, whereas seamlessly integrating mortgage, title, and different providers that are a part of a typical transaction.  The query stays whether or not they can proceed to construct market share at their present tempo, whereas pivoting their mannequin to be extra sustainable in the long term.  Going public supplied the corporate with more money, but it surely additionally signaled the top of a continuing stream of recent capital from VCs.

The Disrupter

Eric Wu (Opendoor)

Many corporations have tried to disrupt the residential actual property brokerage trade.  Most of them have both gone out of enterprise or have pivoted to a standard mannequin.  Most disruptors deal with fee discount, and repeatedly that technique fails.  iBuying is the only largest change to the residential actual property brokerage trade in a long time.  Eric Wu is the Co-Founder and CEO of Opendoor.  Opendoor launched the idea of iBuying in 2014.  They raised over $1B of enterprise capital earlier than going public in December of 2020.  Since that point, many different corporations have entered the iBuyer enterprise, however no different participant has come near their progress trajectory.  Opendoor has continued to speed up their progress and is by far the biggest participant within the house.  Whereas iBuyers nonetheless represents only one% of all residential transactions, that quantity is poised to develop considerably as Opendoor (and a few of their rivals) broaden into new cities throughout the nation.

Take a look at my prior article on iBuyers right here 

The Kingmakers

Beginning a enterprise is difficult.   Many corporations with nice concepts fail as a result of they run out of cash.  Capital is crucial for all companies, however that’s solely half the battle.  Equally, if no more essential, is buyer adoption.  Think about getting each from the identical place.  Strategic traders have the potential to almost assure the success of a enterprise (assuming that the options they spend money on work), by offering capital together with a built-in buyer base.  There are 2 sorts of Strategic Traders which can be included on this listing.  The primary kind are conventional VC companies which have raised capital from massive actual property house owners.  The VC locations bets on behalf of the proprietor, and the proprietor is then more likely to deploy the options all through their portfolio.  The second kind of corporations are massive Actual Property house owners which have fashioned their very own in-house enterprise arm.

Brad Greiwe / Brendan Wallace (Fifth Wall)

Fifth Wall is a enterprise capital agency that focuses on investing in “Constructed World Applied sciences”.  Moreover having a eager eye for putting bets on profitable corporations, Fifth Wall is uniquely positioned to crown winners in rising areas partly because of who they’ve raised funds from.  Their first fund was targeted on the US, and so they raised funds from Actual Property royalty together with Fairness Residential, Lennar, Prologis, CBRE, Hines, Host Accommodations, Lowes, Macerich Properties, and Rudin Administration Firm.  Their Fund II took that mannequin internationally, and in the present day the agency has roughly $3.0 billion in commitments and capital below administration, from a good bigger group of actual property house owners which incorporates 90+ international strategic companions from greater than 15 international locations. In 2021, Fifth Wall raised $1.1B throughout their funds  The capital and steering that Fifth Wall gives to their portfolio corporations represents solely a part of the worth that they bring about to the desk.  As a result of they’re investing funds on behalf of the biggest Actual Property house owners of the world, there’s a enormous incentive for these corporations to deploy related options from the portfolio corporations all through their huge actual property holdings.

Take a look at my prior interview with Fifth Wall right here

Zack Aarons / Aaron Block (MetaProp)

There are millions of VC companies within the US with many alternative funding theses, however MetaProp is solely targeted on PropTech. They’re the biggest international seed fund and so they personal the early stage phase. MetaProp has made some large bets through the years, with investments in over 150 corporations.  Just like Fifth Wall, MetaProp additionally raises some funds from strategic traders who personal a complete of 20B+ sq. toes throughout each actual property asset class.  An funding from MetaProp can practically assure adoption of an answer.  Prior investments from MetaProp embody HqO, Occupier, Spruce, Bowery, Facet, and Dongnae.

Jon Korngold / John Fitzpatrick (Blackstone)

Whereas many actual property house owners are investing in PropTech corporations by inserting bets by means of a standard VC, a few of the largest gamers have created their very own enterprise arm and are investing in corporations instantly.  Blackstone is a big in the true property house with a world portfolio valued at $448B.  Blackstone’s holdings embody nearly each actual property asset class, in order that they have an enormous sandbox to deploy many sorts of PropTech options.  A few of the investments that they’ve made embody DealPath, Zumper, iCapital Networks, and Aquicore.  John Korngold is the International Co-Head of Expertise Investing, and John Fitzpatrick is the Senior Managing Director and Chief Expertise Officer of Different Asset Administration Expertise at Blackstone.  Each play a crucial position in figuring out which corporations Blackstone invests in, and due to this fact maintain the keys to crowning winners.

William O’Donnell (Prologis)

Prologis, an actual property big who owns nearly 1B sq. of logistics actual property, fashioned a enterprise arm in 2016.  Not solely does their scale present an infinite built-in buyer base, but it surely additionally gives them with worthwhile perception in regards to the ache factors and know-how wants of logistics corporations. Prologis’s funding thesis is to spend money on applied sciences that may profit their firm and their buyer base by creating new income streams, growing efficiencies, decreasing prices, and making constructive contributions to sustainability. As I lined in a previous article, William O’Donnell (Prologis Ventures’ Managing Associate) shared the next perception: “We’re a really thesis pushed investor.  We perceive the place ache factors are, and the way we, as an organization, can discover alternatives to enhance our operations.  However we additionally spend a ton of time with our prospects understanding actually what’s driving change inside their group and the place they’re experiencing friction. So with that perception, we exit and discover options that match these alternatives.”  Prologis has made 35 investments in logistics tech, property tech and sustainability. Along with investing in third celebration corporations, Prologis not too long ago launched an EV charging infrastructure enterprise and continues to take a position closely in rising their photo voltaic platform together with different sustainability-focused options for his or her prospects. A few of Prologis’s prior investments embody Flexport, Locus, Flexe and Platform Science.    

Jim Whalen (Boston Properties)

Boston Properties is the biggest publicly traded developer, proprietor, and supervisor of Class A workplace properties in america.  Though Boston Properties doesn’t have a enterprise arm, they’re on the forefront of know-how deployment.  I first met Jim (Chief Info & Expertise Officer of Boston Properties) in the summertime of 2021.  I used to be blown away by his considerate imaginative and prescient on the way forward for the PropTech trade.  What actually impressed me about Jim is how typically his identify has come up in conversations that I’ve had with PropTech executives.  I spend a number of my time assembly with Actual Property and PropTech leaders, and I’ve misplaced rely of the quantity of instances that they’ve referenced his identify to me in conversations.  Not solely do the trade gamers respect him, however lots of them inform me that they appear to him for steering on the place the trade goes.  It will be onerous to search out somebody extra revered than Jim within the workplace sector.     

The Incumbent

Andrew Florance (CoStar Group)

In the case of actual property knowledge, analytics and on-line marketplaces there may be one firm who guidelines the trade:  CoStar Group.  I don’t imagine that there’s anybody in the true property trade that doesn’t use CoStar or considered one of its’ on-line marketplaces in a technique or one other.  CoStar’s knowledge and analytics not solely powers house owners, traders, lenders and the brokerage trade, it additionally gives perception to hundreds of distributors that promote to industrial tenants.  After dominating industrial actual property for a few years, CoStar Group not too long ago made an enormous leap into residential actual property with acquisitions together with Homesnap and  CoStar Group is making an attempt to unseat the present chief in Residential Search: Zillow.  Costar Group can be within the means of working with REBNY to go to battle with the present chief StreetEasy (StreetEasy is a Zillow firm) within the ultra-competitive NYC residential trade.

Nick Romito (VTS)

VTS gives software program which is utilized by nearly each Industrial Actual Property proprietor and supervisor within the US.  In 2021, VTS made a number of highly effective strikes to capitalize on their nicely revered identify and big buyer base by increasing their product providing.  First, they entered the house which is at the moment dominated by CoStar with the launch of their Market, and rolled out a collection of instruments together with a full CMS, analytics portal, and distribution middle for each house.  Then, they acquired 2 of the biggest Tenant Expertise gamers: RiseBuildings and Lane.  Their current buyer relationships have been opening doorways for them simply as most of the largest industrial house owners are making portfolio large selections on which tenant apps they’re going to deploy.  VTS now has an arsenal of options to do every little thing from advertising areas, to asset administration, to powering sensible buildings.


Spencer Rascoff (Pacaso)

Few folks have had as many profitable ventures as Spencer Rascoff.  A couple of of the businesses that he based embody Hotwire, Zillow, and Pacaso.  Underneath Spencer’s watch at Zillow, the corporate acquired 15 corporations, went public, and dominated the true property search trade.  Spencer formally departed Zillow in April 2021.  After Spencer left Zillow, the brand new management made a sequence of missteps with the corporate’s iBuyer enterprise.  These selections resulted in one of many largest blunders in PropTech historical past, inflicting their inventory worth to drop by 52%.  Whereas Zillow’s new administration staff remains to be cleansing up the mess made by their unhealthy selections, Spencer has stored his sizzling streak alive by scaling different ventures that he has invested in.  For instance, Pacaso, which he co-founded in October 2020, was topped a Unicorn quicker than any firm ever. Extra investments that Spencer has made in PropTech corporations together with Offerpad, Doma, Flyhomes, Ribbon, VTS, Facet, EasyKnock, and Radius Agent.

Michael Beckerman (CREtech)

There are numerous commerce teams, consulting companies, and different organizations that serve to maintain the true property trade knowledgeable and educated on actual property tech, however none are extra influential than CREtech.  Michael Beckerman is the CEO of CREtech which payments itself as the biggest occasion, consulting, and content material platform within the industrial actual property tech sector. Michael is likely one of the most nicely revered thought leaders within the PropTech trade.  As most corporations switched to digital solely conferences in the course of the Pandemic, CREtech pushed ahead with a sequence of reside occasions in 2021.  I attended their NYC convention in October, and was so impressed with their capability to tug collectively the entire Who’s Who of the trade right into a single reside occasion.  I comply with Michael and CREtech religiously, and I extremely advocate them to anybody seeking to broaden their data in PropTech.  Study extra about CREtech right here.    

I’m enthusiastic about listening to your suggestions.  When you really feel as if I missed anybody, please add your ideas within the feedback under.

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