MARCH/APRIL 2019 REAL ESTATE FORUM 19 www.globest.com/realestateforum
TECH OF TOMORROW: INNOVATORS ON OUR WATCHLIST
The CRE industry is just getting started in its adoption of cutting edge technology. Here are four firms that represent new directions for CRE tech.
In the summer of 2012 in London, as celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee were ramping up, Ross Bailey and a friend create a retail
brand called Rock and Rule. It sold limited edition T-shirts and other apparel inspired by the Queen and opened a pop-up store in Soho. Struck by
the number of people coming into the store to ask how he had found the space, Bailey had another novel idea: marketplace for short-term space.
That was the genesis of Appear Here, an online platform that lists empty store space for free, allowing retailers to book it in a manner akin to
booking a room on Airbnb. The company has secured venture capital funding from several firms—most notable among them was Fifth Wall
Ventures, which formed a strategic partnership with the startup in October 2017. Since its launch Appear Here has opened offices in Paris and
New York. To date, it’s helped more than 180,000 retailers secure pop-up locations and listed 10-plus million square feet of retail space.
Tel Aviv-based Skyline AI knows how to make a splash with a new hire. Last year it tapped none other than
Shay Bushinsky for the role of chief data scientist. Bushinsky, together with Amir Ban, created an AI program called
Deep Junior, which eventually defeated the legendary chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov.
Bushinsky’s creds are part of Skyline AI’s mission to add artificial intelligence to the commercial real estate
valuation process. Connected to 130 different data sources—from real estate information to crime statistics and
demographics to stock market fluctuations—Skyline AI can detect and exploit market anomalies, identify investment opportunities and discover untapped value creation possibilities, according to the company. Primarily used
for multifamily assets, the platform can also provide data analysis and information on the best time to raise rents,
renovate and sell.
Skyline has secured $18 million in funding from Sequoia Capital, JLL and others. Last summer, it struck a
partnership with Greystone Labs to collaborate on improving the dealmaking and loan underwriting processes. The
company, which also has an office in New York City, counts among its clients
major institutional and private equity investors, according to CEO Guy Zipori,
who co-founded Skyline in 2017 with Or Hiltch, CTO.
Targeting CRE financing, Remissary entered the space with a splash last
year, sourcing $750 million for users in its first month alone. The company has
signed up some of the world’s largest lenders and capital sources, offering the gamut of debt and equity capital.
Remissary’s mission is to streamline what is still largely an antiquated process with a platform it
describes as “high tech and high touch.” The New York City-based firm was founded by Adi Chugh, who
prior to the launch made a career in Wall Street investment banking. Chugh is also president and founder
of Maverick Commercial Properties, a private equity and debt financing boutique advisory firm that completed over $5 billion in transactions last year.
The platform uses a proprietary algorithm developed by MIT-trained developers that connects borrowers
and lenders through a bespoke matchmaking process. A live representative then sees through the deal through
completion. Recent transactions completed by Chugh and his team include a $230-million loan for hotel construction in New York and a $66-million loan for a
ground-up multifamily and retail development in the
Launched in 2012 with a single Downtown Manhattan Office and then called Urban
Compass, Compass has evolved into a nationwide platform of high tech and a robust
array of top brokers. Founded by entrepreneurs Ori Allon and Robert Reffkin, it launched
with a business model that employed full-time, salaried brokers, who used the company’s technology to search for listings and to schedule appointments online.
The focus was strictly on the rental residential market, but it added sales in 2014. It
also changed its business model into one that contracted with independent real estate
agents, taking a cut of the commission.
Last year, Compass made its official entree into the commercial market with the
launch of Compass Commercial on both coasts. It acquired San Francisco’s Paragon
Opening 70 new offices in 2018, Compass now operates in 30 regions with more than 90 locations across the US. Its next challenge is to open
offices in international markets.
Compass has raised a total of $1.2 billion from investors such as Founder’s Fund, Wellington Management, Institutional Venture Partners, Fidelity
Investments and the Softbank Vision Fund. It was also named Mid-Sized Business of the Year by the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce in 2015.
Robert Reffkin & Ori Allon