2020 is a tipping point for construction tech
Bisnow – August 28
Not so long ago, construction was one of the least digitized industries in the U.S. But with increasing material costs, rising wages, and a labor shortage – all on top of the pandemic – construction firms are increasingly adopting technology at a breakneck pace. Site meetings are being conducted via VR headsets, drones are used for project monitoring, and robots are digging foundations and remotely piloting heavy equipment. At a time when budgets are tight, stakeholders are turning to technology to streamline costs. A 2016 report by the Boston Consulting Group found that technology can help reduce a construction project’s total life cycle cost by a fifth, while speeding up the completion timeline by 30%, cutting no corners on quality or safety — and that was all before AI could pilot a bulldozer.
Bay Area startup enters into 99-year leases with homeowners to build permanently affordable backyard houses
Fast Company - August 18
If you live in the Bay Area, a new startup wants to lease your backyard for the next 99 years. Oby (“our backyard”), a spinoff of a company called CoEverything, finds homeowners who are willing to share their backyards, then builds a tiny backyard house, which it rents out to tenants at rates well below market rate. Because the agreement lasts nearly a century, the obligations transfer with the house when it is sold. An executive with Oby's parent company said that “we’re purposefully doing that so that we can maintain the affordability long term.” Homeowners also benefit from the arrangement, getting a steady income stream of up to $500 a month to offset the cost of their own mortgage.
FinTech/PropTech lending startup Blend Jumps to $1.7 billion valuation as mortgage demand surges
CNBC - August 12
Digital lending startup Blend has raised $75 million in fresh funding amid surging demand for streamlined mortgage applications during the pandemic. The move values the company at almost $1.7 billion, a jump of more than 70% from its previous funding round in 2019. The demand for Blend’s software in 2019 has increased along with other "stay-at-home" sectors during the pandemic: Refinance application volumes jolted more than 1,000% higher in March, and purchase applications climbed by more than 100% every month since May, according to company figures.
Intercontinental Exchange to acquire fellow mortgage technology company Ellie Mae in transaction valued at $11 billion
Mortgage Professional America – August 10
Ellie Mae (previously known as Electronic Mortgage Affiliates), a software company that claims to process 35% of all U.S. mortgage applications, has announced that it will be acquired by Intercontinental Exchange, an operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of mortgage technology and data listing services. The acquisition values Ellie Mae at approximately $11 billion. The announcement comes just under 17 months after Thoma Bravo, a private equity firm, acquired Ellie Mae for $3.7 billion.
Airbnb files confidential paperwork for IPO
CNN – August 19
Airbnb is moving ahead with plans to go public just months after the pandemic upended the travel industry and forced the startup to lay off a quarter of its workforce. In mid-August, Airbnb announced that it had submitted confidential paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering. Founded in 2008, Airbnb has matured into one of the most valuable private startups in the world, reaching a valuation as high as $31 billion.
Phoenix PropTech company Mosaic to build new homes utilizing software that converts blueprints into Ikea-like assembly instructions
The Real Deal – September 2
With demand for new homes surging, a Phoenix startup is teaming up with local builder Mandalay Homes to churn out 400 new homes using software that converts blueprints into Ikea-like assembly instructions. Unlike companies that built prefabricated homes or parts, Mosaic aims to standardize the process — not the product — of homebuilding. With a new, $100 million partnership, Mosaic plans to build hundreds of single-family homes in northern Arizona over the next 24 months. In conjunction with the deal, Mosaic said it closed a $14.25 million Series A led by Andreessen Horowitz, bringing its total funding to $24.75 million since 2015. Other investors in the round included Founders Fund, Thrive Capital and Greylock Partners.
Landlord-tenant software application developer Till raises $8 million Series Seed financing
TechCrunch – August 11
Till, a platform which serves as an intermediary between landlords and renters, has raised $8 million in a seed funding round led by Route 66 Ventures, with participation from MetaProp and NextGen Venture Partners. Through its flexible rent platform, Till creates a customized payment schedule for renters that aligns with their monthly cash flow. Till estimates it can help cut evictions by as much as 50%.