The Daily Ten – Amazon spends $2 billion on affordable housing, Cryptocurrency market tops $1 trillion, Fifth Wall to launch Proptech SPAC…
The Daily Ten
1. Amazon’s new $2B fund aims to boost affordable housing in Arlington, Nashville and Seattle areas | GeekWire
Amazon is committing more than $2 billion to affordable housing initiatives in the regions of Seattle, Nashville, Tenn., and Arlington, Va., attempting to leverage its extraordinary financial assets to address disparities in three communities where its rapid growth risks deepening the economic divide.
The tech giant’s new Housing Equity Fund, announced Wednesday morning, will seek to preserve and create more than 20,000 affordable housing units across the three regions by making below-market loans and grants to public agencies, housing partners and minority-led organizations.
It’s the latest effort by a major tech company to address the inequities fueled by the booming tech economy. Microsoft started the trend with a $750 million affordable housing initiative focused on areas around its Redmond, Wash., headquarters. In Silicon Valley and San Francisco, Facebook and Google have each committed $1 billion, and Apple announced a $2.5 billion pledge.
2. Real Estate’s Latest Trophy Assets Are in Short Supply | WSJ
Property investors want to buy grocery stores, but may struggle to convince retailers to part with them
Unlikely as it may sound, grocery stores are becoming dream properties—coveted but hard to prise away from their owners. Changes to accounting rules are just one reason why it has become less appealing for supermarkets to sell their real estate.
In Europe, food shops have been among the few retailers allowed to trade throughout the pandemic and business has been strong. U.K. grocer J Sainsbury reported Thursday that over the nine weeks to Jan. 2, sales increased by 9.3%, sending its shares up 4%. Britain’s supermarkets have had their highest Christmas sales on record, based on data released this week by Nielsen.
That strength has fed through into real-estate markets, where superstores are in demand. Landlords haven’t struggled to collect rents from grocers as they have from other retailers. U.K.-listed Supermarket Income REIT received 100% of rents owed in the three months through September, compared with just 79% for Europe’s biggest shopping mall landlord, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. The former’s stock is roughly flat over the last 12 months, while Unibail’s has more than halved in value.
3. A Quarantine Nightmare: Three Weeks in a Hotel, if You Can Find One | The New York Times
Hong Kong’s abrupt new entry requirement — which has shaken travelers, domestic workers, airlines and hotels alike — stands out for its length and has been questioned by scientists.
HONG KONG — Before boarding her flight to Hong Kong for a new job last month, Tanja Cunz made sure she had met all of the government’s stringent entry requirements. Ms. Cunz, a 34-year-old museum curator from Switzerland, took a coronavirus test, paid for two weeks of quarantine at a government-designated hotel and steeled herself for half a month without fresh air.
But as her plane touched down in Hong Kong on Christmas morning, an announcement came over the loudspeaker: The government overnight had extended the quarantine period from two weeks to three, effective immediately. The passengers would have to secure a third week at their hotel before they could leave the airport.
Ms. Cunz was stunned. Not only would she have to pay for an extra week of quarantine, but she would also have to postpone her start date at work by one week, meaning a loss of salary too.
“All your plans, they just fall apart,” Ms. Cunz said in a phone call from her hotel room, from which she can see her future office across Victoria Harbor.
4. What a Democratic-controlled Congress could mean for renters struggling amid the pandemic | CNBC
With Democrats securing a majority in the Senate, a number of relief measures targeted at renters struggling amid the pandemic – including a right to counsel for those facing eviction and a larger pot of money for back rent – now have a better chance of materializing.
“Democrats have a rare opportunity to directly and swiftly end the eviction crisis and prevent severe harm to renters and landlords nationwide,” said Emily Benfer, a visiting law professor at Wake Forest University.
After months of negotiations, Democrats and Republicans struck a deal on another stimulus package last month that extended the national eviction ban through January and allocated $25 billion for rental assistance.
5. SolidBlock Launches First Real Estate STO in Thailand | AI Thority
Israeli Proptech Company Partners with Blue Horizon to Tokenize The Beachfront Hotel in Phuket, Managed Under The Best Western Plus Brand
SolidBlock, a smart contract development and management platform for transforming real estate into digital shares that can be traded, is working with Blue Horizon to tokenize The Beachfront hotel in Phuket, managed under the Best Western Plus brand.
The partnership between SolidBlock – a portfolio company of BuiltUp Ventures, the leading PropTech venture capital firm investing in some of Israel’s most innovative startups – and Blue Horizon Developments, marks the first real estate securities token offering (STO) and the first real estate project to raise money on the blockchain in Thailand.
6. Alibaba and Tencent stocks hit by reports that Trump could go after them next | CNN Business
Hong Kong (CNN Business)Shares in Alibaba and Tencent were rocked in Hong Kong on Thursday following reports that they could be the next casualties of President Donald Trump’s scorched earth campaign against Chinese tech.
Washington is considering prohibiting Americans from investing in the two companies, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Such a move would be a major shock for Asia’s two most valuable companies. Alibaba (BABA) also trades in New York, so if Americans are banned from investing in the company it could be delisted in the United States.
Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listed shares fell 3.9%, while and Tencent’s stock plunged 4.7%.
7. Total Cryptocurrency Market Value Hits Record $1 Trillion | CoinDesk
The total value of all cryptocurrencies passed $1 trillion Wednesday for the first time ever, per CoinGecko‘s index of 6,124 assets. At its prior peak in late 2017, the market’s total capitalization was just above $760 billion, according to TradingView.
“Is it frothy? A little bit in the short term,” said Qiao Wang, co-founder of decentralized finance (DeFi) accelerator firm DeFi Alliance and former quantitative trader at Tower Research. “But is it ridiculous,” he asked rhetorically. “Nope.”
Over the past 12 months, the nearly parabolic rise of bitcoin (BTC, +6.47%) and other cryptocurrencies has come as deep-pocketed institutional investors show increasing interest in bitcoin with a new crop of retail investors following their lead and showing some interesting in alternative cryptocurrencies (altcoins) as well.
8. Elm Street continues proptech buying spree | Real Estate Weekly
Elm Street Technology has announced its seventh acquisition as the marketing solutions company continues its tear into the lucrative proptech sector.
The North Carolina-based firm founded by former Realtor.com executive Prem Luthra in 2016, announced it has acquired VoicePad, a company that provides new client acquisition and telecom solutions for real estate brokerages and their agents.
The deal comes a year after Elm Street formed a strategic partnership with New York-based private equity firm Aquiline Capital Partners that set it up to accelerate its growth and expand its portfolio of technology solutions.
The company’s Elevate platform is already used by thousands of real estate agents and brokerages across the United States and its buying spree has swallowed up companies including IDX Broker, eMerge, AgentJet, Listingbook, RLS2000 and Consolidated Knowledge.
9. Fifth Wall to launch proptech SPAC | The Real Deal
Los Angeles VC firm has $1B under management
Fifth Wall, a prolific proptech investor that has backed VTS, States Title and Industrious, is joining the SPAC craze.
The Los Angeles-based firm, which is already the best-funded proptech VC outfit, is raising money for a blank-check company that could take some of its portfolio companies public.
Fifth Wall hired underwriters for the special purpose acquisition company, which could go public this quarter, reported Bloomberg. The size of the SPAC was not disclosed.
10. Curbio’s Latest $25M Funding Round Backed by Top PropTech CEOs | citybizlist
Potomac, MD Curbio, the leading tech-driven home improvement service for Realtors and their clients, today announced the inclusion of several visionary PropTech CEOs to Curbio’s recently announced $25M funding round. Investors include the CEO of Hippo Insurance, Assaf Wand, the CEO of Tomo Networks (former President of Zillow Media & Marketplace), Greg Schwartz, and the former CEO of Realtor.com, Ryan O’Hara.
Also participating in the round is three-time NBA champion and prominent technology investor Andre Iguodala. Andre has worked closely with famed venture firm a16z, and through F9 Strategies—his business partnership with Rudy Cline-Thomas–Iguodala is at the forefront of venture capital and technology. He’s invested in more than 50 companies including Zoom, Datadog, PagerDuty and Allbirds.
“As Curbio continues to grow, so does our incredible team of institutional and individual investors,” said Rick Rudman, CEO of Curbio. “What’s amazing to me is the depth of PropTech experience among our investors. They are all seasoned operators that provide an incredible resource for Curbio as we innovate the $200b home improvement industry for Realtors® and the home buyers and sellers they work with.”