DTLA building uses germ-killing robots, enhanced air-purification system to lure tenants and employees back to office
Spectrum News – May 27
From the moment an employee comes back to work at the old "L.A. Law" building in downtown Los Angeles, almost everything will be touch-free. Coretrust Capital Partners spent $2 million upgrading the building as part of an effort to lure workers back to the office. Employees and visitors will also experience the building's upgraded air filtration system inside the ducts that pump fresh air in all 48 floors and sterilize airborne bio-contaminants. At night, and occasionally during the day, maintenance workers will roll out a six-foot 90-pound cylinder-shaped robot that looks like a huge lamp with tube lights on rollers to disinfect common areas and meeting rooms.
Offsite construction firm Katerra to shut down
Construction Dive – June 2
Offsite construction company Katerra, which has raised more than $2 billion from backers such as Japanese investor SoftBank, has told employees it is shutting down, The Information first reported. The Menlo Park, California-based firm, which was founded in 2015, will likely let go of thousands of employees and exit several construction projects, according to the report. Layoffs have already begun in Seattle, as the company dismissed 117 employees there, The Seattle Times reported.
As employees return to the office, banks explore surveillance tech
VentureBeat - May 21
Banks including JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs Group, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank AG, and HSBC Holdings plan to have workers commute to buildings in New York and other U.S. cities in coming months. Some of the banks are implementing systems where employees will book "hot seats" on particular days and be monitored while using them, sources said. "We have to be more mindful about how space is being used and when it is being used," said Neil Murray, CEO of corporate solutions at JLL, which manages offices for JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and others. Murray said public health initiatives like contact-tracing have forced us to make certain concessions. "There is an element of having to watch interactions more closely. At the same we have to be respectful of individual privacy."
SoftBank-backed mortgage lender Better going public via $7.7 billion SPAC
CNBC - May 11
Digital mortgage lender Better.com announced on May 11 that it will make its market debut by merging with Aurora Acquisition Corp., valuing Better at $7.7 billion. The company, ranked No. 15 on last year's CNBC Disruptor 50 list, was most recently valued at $6 billion following an April 2021 investment from SoftBank. Better’s platform moves the mortgage process completely online, giving customers the ability to upload and eSign documents, and claims to cut the closing time from an industry average of 42 days down to 21 days.
Title insurance startup Spruce scores $60M in Series C
The Real Deal – June 2
An increasing number of startups are taking on the titans of the title insurance industry, with one of those digital firms recently scoring some major funding. Digital title startup Spruce raised $60 million in a Series C funding round that was led by Zigg Capital. The new funding will bring Spruce's total raise to $110 million; it previously raised $29 million in a Series B round in 2020, and about $21 million in several smaller rounds prior to that. Other investors in the Series C include Bessemer Venture Partners and Scale Venture Partners.
Procore raises $634.5M in IPO priced above range
Yahoo! Finance – May 19
Procore Technologies Inc., a cloud-based construction software company, priced its shares in an initial public offering above a marketed range to raise $634.5 million. The company continued to attract new users during the pandemic, growing its customer base by 19% in 2020. With more than 40% of construction firms reporting higher costs and slower project completion due to labor shortages, the digitization of the industry has accelerated during the past year, the company said.