Fifth Wall to launch PropTech SPAC
The Real Deal – January 6
Fifth Wall, a prolific PropTech investor that has backed VTS, States Title and Industrious, is joining the SPAC craze. The Los Angeles-based firm is raising money for a blank-check company that could take some of its portfolio companies public. After raising a $212 million inaugural fund in 2017, Fifth Wall closed a $503 million PropTech fund — the largest of its kind — in July 2019. It has since closed a $100 million retail fund and is raising a $200 million carbon impact fund and $118 million European PropTech fund.
Construction tech adoption accelerated due to COVID-19
Connected Real Estate - December 29
“Due to the pandemic, three years of construction technology growth and adoption has been compressed into the past nine months,” Henry D’Esposito, JLL’s Construction Research Senior Analyst said in a new market report. The COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of industries to pivot, including construction technology as it pertains to commercial real estate, according to JLL. “The technology categories that recorded the most growth due to the pandemic have been digital collaboration platforms, virtual scanning tools, and safety focused wearables. Venture capital funding has continued to flow to construction technology startups post-pandemic, with funding levels roughly on par with the average of the past five years. Most new funding has been concentrated in categories that have grown because of the pandemic.”
CitizenM builds hotels with Lego-like modules
Los Angeles Times – December 22
Work is nearly finished in downtown Los Angeles on CitizenM, a hip hotel for international travelers made of prefabricated rooms that were craned into place like a child’s building blocks. CitizenM points to its modular construction approach — like high-stakes Lego — as one reason the company is able to keep costs low and charge less for rooms than its rivals as it looks ahead to a post-pandemic world. Modular hotel construction can shave several months off construction, the developers said, which reduces overall costs. The repetitive elements of hotel rooms make modular construction particularly well suited to hotel development, advocates say.
Bill Smith’s Landing secures another $100M in funding
Advance Local – January 12
Shipt founder Bill Smith’s flexible living venture has secured another $100 million in new funding. Landing, the company Smith founded in 2019, announced a $45 million Series B funding, led by Foundry Group, with participation by Greycroft and Maveron, and a $55 million debt facility. The company says it will use the money to continue expanding its network of apartments to new markets nationally. Now available in more than 75 major cities, Landing calls itself the first flexible membership leasing model for fully-furnished apartments. The concept has been in demand during the pandemic, with Landing more than doubling its expansion plans in its first year, expanding to more than 10,000 apartments.
Thoma Bravo acquiring RealPage for $10.2B
PYMNTS - December 21
San Francisco-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo has agreed to acquire RealPage, which provides property management software and data analytics to the real estate industry. The all-cash deal values RealPage, a publicly-traded company, at $10.2 billion, including net debt. The RealPage deal comes as multifamily developers adjust their offerings during the pandemic-fueled shift to working from home.
Home-selling platform Opendoor closes higher in Nasdaq debut
Reuters – December 21
Shares of Opendoor Technologies Inc, a home-selling platform backed by SoftBank Group, had a successful IPO in December, following a merger with Social Capital Hedosophia II, a blank-check company led by investor Chamath Palihapitiya. Opendoor, backed by a $400 million investment from SoftBank, was hit hard by the pandemic, and cut 35% of its workforce in April 2020. As the home resale business started to recover, Opendoor looked for capital to fuel expansion and opted to go public by merging with Social Capital at a $4.8 billion valuation.
SoftBank comes to Katerra’s rescue with critical $200M investment, takes majority stake
Construction Dive – January 4
Modular manufacturer and prefab construction company Katerra announced a recapitalization that will eliminate a significant amount of its debt and provide $200 million of new funding, the majority of which will come from SoftBank Vision Fund 1. Softbank’s investment is in addition to $2 billion the Japanese fund previously sunk into Katerra; it gives Softbank a majority stake in the company and allows Katerra to avoid bankruptcy, according to The Wall Street Journal. In an email to employees, Katerra CEO Paal Kibsgaard said that the restructuring and influx of cash would help Katerra with scaling the business; growing its leadership and talent; and “articulating” its approach to industrialized building production.
Sundae snags $36M to build out its distressed property marketplace
Tech Crunch – December 8
Sundae, which has built a marketplace for homeowners to sell distressed assets, has raised $36 million in a Series B funding round. The funding is being led by QED Investors. Founders Fund, Susa Ventures, Navitas Capital, and Prudence Holdings also participated. All are previous investors from the startup’s last round, a $16.55 million Series A also led by QED. CEO and co-founder Josh Stechs said that in the four markets where the company has gone live since launching its business in January 2019 — San Diego, Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, and Sacramento — the company has yielded an annualized revenue run rate of over $400 million in gross merchandise value (the total value of home sales transacted on its platform).