The Daily Ten – PropTech surge amid the pandemic, former Zillow execs raise $40 million for startup, Camber Creek raises $155 million fund…
The Daily Ten
1. Former Zillow execs raise $40M seed round for Tomo Networks to reinvent how people buy homes | GeekWire
Two former top Zillow Group leaders are getting back in the real estate industry with new startup that aims to change the way Americans buy homes.
Greg Schwartz and Carey Armstrong just unveiled their new company, Tomo Networks, which announced a massive $40 million seed round this week.
Founded just a few months ago, Tomo’s first product is a tech-fueled mortgage and transaction platform targeted at both real estate agents and consumers. The company describes itself as a fintech startup. It is staying quiet about the exact business model, but it has big ambitions.
“Mortgage is a massive, distributed, important market,” said Schwartz, the CEO. “And we’re going to lead it.”
The seed investment and pedigree of the investor group — Trulia co-founder Pete Flint; ex-Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff; and others are among the backers — is a vote of confidence in both the idea and also the founding team.
2. Struggling Rental Market Could Usher in Next American Housing Crisis | WSJ
Millions of renters are behind on their payments; mass evictions could come soon
Fallout from missed rent payments is threatening a large swath of the U.S population, as the expiration of eviction bans draws near.
A large number of renters have been unable to pay some or even all of their rent since March, when the pandemic temporarily shut down most businesses. Many businesses remain closed or only partially open, pushing renters into unemployment and draining their savings.
3. Covid-19 Pandemic Boosts Startups Behind Virtual Showings | WSJ
Venture funding climbs as demand surges for remote property visits and closings
The business of investing in tech-oriented, startup property firms took years to gain traction in the stodgy real-estate industry. But it is gaining fresh momentum during the coronavirus pandemic.
As fear of exposure to the new virus is limiting the ability to visit properties and close on them, demand is booming for startup firms that provide virtual ways to do this. Revenue and investment is rising for many, especially for those in the hot residential-sales business.
4. In a Battered New York Office Market, Life Science Is Flourishing | The New York Times
With state and city government support, developers are building laboratories for medical research and incubator spaces for biotech start-ups amid the race for a coronavirus vaccine.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has focused greater attention on health care and spurred a heated race for a Covid-19 vaccine, has also ratcheted up interest in life science real estate in New York.
The city had already been trying to play catch-up with other life science powerhouses such as Boston, San Diego and San Francisco. Real estate companies, with government support, had been building commercial laboratories for medical researchers, incubator spaces for biotech start-ups and offices for pharmaceutical companies poised to bring new drugs to market.
Now, funding from investors is flowing to such projects at a time when the city’s office market is battered by lockdowns and orders to work from home. Office availability in Manhattan jumped to 14.1 percent in the third quarter from 11.8 percent in the same period a year ago, while the average rent dropped about 1 percent, according to Newmark, a commercial real estate advisory firm.
5. The Algorithm That Could Get You Back in the Office | Bloomberg
How open is too open? To help employers reduce outbreak risks after bringing workers back, new tech tools can juggle schedules and map office hot spots.
In January, Nick Eurek was ready to reveal the product he’d spent three years developing. He’s the co-founder of Maptician, a small, Georgia-based firm that started 2020 prepared to sell its new analytical tool that maps the floor plan of an office and, on a mobile app, shows employees in real-time where people are sitting. The idea was that this could help workers maximize their time with colleagues.
That plan changed dramatically when the coronavirus pandemic hit in the spring.
“Our big push was how to get more people to spend more face-to-face time with each other, in order to get to know their co-workers,” Eurek says. “Now you’re talking about things that have a bit more gravity.”
The updated version of Maptician’s software still tracks employee scheduling and analyzes floor plans — but it’s being used to help workers avoid each other.
6. Reddit won’t lower employee pay if they move out of high-cost cities like San Francisco | CNBC
Reddit said Tuesday it won’t lower pay for employees who choose to move out of high-cost cities following the coronavirus pandemic. That means employees will be compensated as if they live in places like San Francisco, where Reddit is headquartered, even if they move to a much cheaper locale.
“To support employees to live where they want to and do their best work, we are eliminating geographic compensation zones in the US,” the company said in a blog post. “We believe this is the right balance of flexibility and support for employees, recognizing the varied tradeoffs people consider when deciding where to live.”
The social media company will also allow employees to choose between working in person, remotely or a combination of both. Reddit said the new policy will exclude workers who have roles that need to be performed in person.
7. Zillow cuts 80 Zillow Offers jobs, adjusting its approach in field offices as it eyes expansion | GeekWire
Zillow has cut about 80 positions from its Zillow Offers homebuying and selling operation, streamlining its management structure in some of the 25 markets where the service has launched, GeekWire has learned.
The service, which competes with companies such as Seattle-based Redfin and San Francisco-based Opendoor in the direct purchase and sale of homes, is still targeting an overall expansion in the coming year.
The company doesn’t disclose the overall size of the Zillow Offers team. Seattle-based Zillow Group, parent company of Zillow and other online real estate brands, employed more than 5,300 people as of June.
“The changes in our team, while never easy, will put us in a strong position to continue investing in Zillow Offers for the long term by realigning our resources and staffing levels to best meet the evolving needs of our customers,” a Zillow spokesperson said via email.
The Zillow Offers service, which launched 2 1/2 years ago, is part of a broader expansion of Zillow Group’s business under CEO Rich Barton, the Zillow co-founder who retook the reins of the company last year. The company resumed buying and selling homes in June after pausing at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
8. Camber Creek raises $155M for new proptech fund | Real Estate Weekly
Camber Creek, a venture capital firm focused on investing in and scaling early and growth stage companies that are transforming the real estate industry, closed its third fund with capital commitments of $155 million.
Founded in 2011, Camber Creek has more than $250 million in assets under management and notable investments in leading proptech companies such as Notarize, VTS, Latch, Bowery Valuation, Measurabl, Funnel, Compstak, Curbio, Fundrise, WhyHotel, Building Engines, Rabbet, TaskEasy, Latista (acquired by Oracle), RedIQ (acquired by Berkadia), Vedero (acquired by Murata), Canvas (acquired by K1 investments) and ClearEdge3D (acquired by Topcon).
“We are excited about the recent close, made possible by the strength and growth of Camber Creek’s institutional platform. We plan to harness this opportunity to continue our proven strategy and hands-on approach to investing in proptech companies,” said Casey Berman, founder and General Partner of Camber Creek.
9. Danish proptech startup LifeX raises €6 million to expand co-living business | tech.eu
Danish proptech startup LifeX, currently running co-living sites in six European cities, has announced a new funding round of €6 million. The investment was organised through Founders, a Copenhagen-based startup studio, together with Cherry Ventures, a Berlin-based VC fund. Supplementary funds were also sourced through Væksttfonden.
The fresh capital will help strengthen LifeX’s presence in existing and new markets, fuel product development, and accelerate the company’s vision to “make anyone feel at home, anywhere in the world”.
Founded in 2017 by Sune Theodorsen and Ritu Jain, the Danish startup says it helps young nomadic professionals overcome the challenges of finding housing and growing a social network in a new city. The company attempts this through a ‘family-style approach’ to co-living, with shared living spaces decked with designer furniture, where residents have no responsibility for standard adult living such as chores, house maintenance and bills.
10. Motional partners with Via to launch a robo-taxi service in the U.S. | Venture Beat
Motional, a joint self-driving research collaboration between Aptiv and Hyundai, today announced a partnership with Via that the companies say will serve as a blueprint for an on-demand, shared robo-taxi service. Ahead of the partnership’s launch in the first half of 2021, Motional and Via say they will build infrastructure to connect Motional’s driverless vehicles with Via’s technology that powers booking, routing, passenger and vehicle assignment and identification, customer experience, and fleet management.
Some experts predict the pandemic will hasten the adoption of autonomous transportation technologies. Despite needing disinfection, driverless cars can potentially minimize the risk of spreading disease. But surveys are mixed, with one from Partners for Automated Vehicle Education showing nearly three in four Americans believe autonomous cars aren’t ready for prime time. Unsurprisingly, Motional itself disagrees with this assertion. One-fifth of respondents to its Consumer Mobility Report are “more interested” in autonomous vehicles than they were before the pandemic.