4 Workplace Tech Trends to Foster Engagement with Mobile Workers in 2019

4 Workplace Tech Trends to Foster Engagement with Mobile Workers in 2019

Four workplace technology trends companies will leverage in 2019 to match the flexibility mobile workers have come to expect from every aspect of their lives and help foster engagement. 

Mobile workers are here (or should I say, everywhere and anywhere, any time?) and they’re here to stay. In 2015, there were 96.2 million mobile workers in the U.S. By 2020, the number is expected to increase to 105.4 million, representing more than 72 percent of the country’s workforce. Baby boomers are retiring and new generations with different values, expectations, preferences, and ways of working are joining the workforce. Combined with the rise of the “Gig Economy” (professionals abandoning traditional 9-to-5 employment for contract opportunities), the new currency of the labor market is no longer stability. It’s mobility.

So how are businesses planning to attract and retain top talent from this changing workforce? Here are four important workplace technology trends we’ll see companies start to leverage in 2019 in an effort to not only match the flexibility and agility mobile workers have already come to expect from every other aspect of their lives but to also help foster engagement and stronger connections between fellow employees and their employers.

  1. Environmental sensors will be used to improve employee’s physical health and wellness and create more sustainable offices buildings

    2018 saw more employers adopt alternative work programs as they recognized that they couldn’t just keep trying to put butts in seats for 8 hours a day, five days a week. Sedentary office lifestyles are not compatible with today’s mobile workforce, not to mention the potential negative impact on employee satisfaction, health, and wellbeing. So now, many employers are replacing the outdated office setting — the one where the boss was in a big corner office and the rest of the company worked from rows of beige cubicles and terrible hospital-like fluorescent lighting — with activity-based work environments and open floor plans. Employees are free to move around the office and choose the type of desk or workstation that suits what they’re working on, which boosts employee collaboration, satisfaction, productivity and of course, retention.

    With companies getting serious about catering to mobile employees, we’ll start to see IoT environmental sensors enter the workplace this year. These smart devices will accurately monitor air quality, light, noise, and temperature around the office building to ensure it’s one that enables people to do their best, most productive work. For example, the use of environmental sensors can help companies prevent levels of CO2 from rising above 1,000 parts per million (ppm) — the level after which employees may start suffering from drowsiness, headaches, and sleepiness that lead up poor concentration, loss of attention, increased heart rate, and nausea.

    In addition to happier, more productive employees, the benefits of implementing environmental sensors will come in the form of cost savings and energy efficiency for organizations. By integrating with Building Management Systems (BMS) and helping businesses meet WELL Building Standards, environmental sensors can help businesses achieve a 50 percent increase in cost efficiency including energy, maintenance, and other recurring costs. Moreover, the ability to harness occupancy and utilization insights will result in optimized real estate.

  2. Voice commands and smart assistants will make work lives easier

    While still relatively new, voice assistants have improved greatly in recent years. You’ve probably used Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant by now to perform simple daily tasks, like looking up the weather or playing your favorite Spotify playlist. In fact, close to half of online adults are using speech or voice recognition technology. Is the enterprise ready for such devices?

    In an enterprise workplace, smart (voice) assistants will require a microphone and a response mechanism (audio or visual) available to the employee at the time of need. The voice interaction will require simple, short commands with direct answers or results. Phones, and to a lesser extent desktop assistants like Microsoft Cortana, provide those technical require­­­ments. In the past, those devices were not often integrated into office tools or building technology. However, newcomers in the market are bridging the gap between employee devices and the workplace experience (environmental data, collaboration and other use cases). Look for 2019 to introduce voice commands and smart assistants directly in the workplace infrastructure, as companies continue to strive to build out the “workplace of the future.”

  3. Intelligent kiosks, scheduling software, and navigation technology will enable “Smart Workspace” initiatives

    Like smart cities that use technology to keep traffic flowing or to help drivers find an empty parking spot more quickly, IoT will be leveraged more frequently by companies with high traffic workspaces in 2019 to improve the experience of in-office employees. Mid-sized and enterprise-level companies will add intelligent kiosks, whether as fixed devices in the offices or via mobile phones, which allow their employees to quickly see if their teammates are collaborating in a shared workspace or a private conference room. Other companies may add team-finding and navigation technologies that allow employees to move around the office easier, leading to serendipitous moments of collaboration with cross-functional teams. The right implementation of scheduling software will also help more remote employees book work and meeting space on the go in order to collaborate and stay connected with their teams — no matter where anyone on the team is based.

  4. Companies will address privacy and security concerns around IoT and connected devices to gain a competitive advantage in the digital workspace

    IT organizations are working on how to handle security risks that can inevitably arise with the 28.5 billion devices expected to be connected to the IoT by 2022. By beefing up their levels of cybersecurity protection and changing policy, they will be better prepared to benefit from the massive opportunities the IoT can bring them and their employees.

    For instance, many IoT technologies can be secured through network isolation, scanning, and other practices. The IT organizations that can implement intelligent policies in 2019 will gain a competitive advantage that contributes to their bottom line and that attracts/retains more employees by making their work lives easier and more productive. Think facial recognition technology that allows an employee to clock in for the day by simply taking a selfie… or an employee being able to reserve their preferred workspace from their mobile device while on the way to work.

With U.S. unemployment rates at historic lows combined with an increasingly dynamic workforce and new definitions of “what is work?,” we will see continued increases in employee turnover rates, by way of increased spend with contracted or “Gig” resources and job hopping. This higher volume will continue to stress HR staff and systems integrations in all but the smallest of companies, causing a self-fulfilling need in the “Gig HR” market. Now is the time to embrace workplace technologies to give employers a much-needed competitive edge to better meet the needs of the up-and-coming generations of mobile employees.


Build versus buy? Compass acquires CRM firm Contactually

Build versus buy? Compass acquires CRM firm Contactually

Contactually clients include Sotheby’s, Berkshire Hathaway

As it looks to burnish its tech offerings, Compass said it had acquired Contactually, a cloud-based customer relationship management system popular with some of the brokerage industry’s biggest brands.

Terms of the deal, announced Wednesday, were not disclosed. But the Washington, D.C.-based software firm, which launched in 2011, previously raised $12 million from investors including Grotech Ventures, Flight Ventures and Rally Ventures. Contactually generated $7.3 million in 2017 revenue, according to the Inc. magazine’s annual ranking of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies.

The companies said 32 of Contactually’s employees will join Compass, the $4.4 billion SoftBank-backed brokerage. They will work under Compass’s chief technology officer Joseph Sirosh and head of product Eytan Seidman’s team of 175, the companies said.

Compass launched its own CRM last year, powered by Contactually, and the companies said in a statement Wednesday that said the acquisition would accelerate further development of the Compass CRM tool. “Adding their technology and talent to our own will supercharge the Compass offering and bring us closer to our vision of the industry’s first end-to-end platform,” Compass founder Ori Allon said in a statement.

The cloud-based CRM bills itself as an “intelligent” system that uses machine learning in features like “Best Time to Email.”

“After working extensively with the Compass team, it was apparent that joining forces would accelerate our missions,” co-founder and CEO Zvi Band said in a statement.

Compass has been doubling down on technology over the past six months, after raising $400 million from investors including SoftBank and Qatar Investment Authority. In December, Compass launched a product and engineering campus in Seattle.

But the rapid pace of innovation has come with some growing pains. In an end-of-year email to agents, Compass CEO Robert Reffkin acknowledged several missteps, the result of launching new tech products without fully vetting them with agents. “To hit deadlines, we released new software before it was ready,” he wrote. “The new tools were designed to simplify agents’ lives, but bugs in the technology made agents’ lives more complicated instead.”

In Contactually, Compass has acquired a software already used by major brokerage firms. Contactually claims to manage more than 200 million client relationships and works with major names in residential real estate, including Realogy’s Climb Real Estate; Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach Realtors and multiple Sotheby’s International Realty franchises.

The companies said Contactually’s existing customers will be able to continue to use the platform.



Hunt Real Estate Capital buys RealtyMogul's proprietary loan underwriting program

Hunt Real Estate Capital buys RealtyMogul’s proprietary loan underwriting program

Hunt plans to use software in its commercial real estate lending business

Hunt Real Estate Capital, which offers financing for all types of commercial real estate, will soon have a new underwriting system to help it originate those loans, as the company is buying a proprietary loan underwriting system from RealtyMogul.

RealtyMogul offers a real estate crowdfunding platform, through which more than $2 billion has been invested in real estate in the last six years. But beyond that, the company also has a research and development lab, which is where the loan underwriting software was created.

And now, the company is selling the software to Hunt, which plans to use it in its commercial real estate lending business that includes financing for multifamily properties, including small balance; affordable housing; office; retail; manufactured housing; healthcare/senior living; industrial; and self-storage facilities.

“We are excited to implement this proprietary loan underwriting software that Realty Mogul has developed and continue to build our commercial real estate lending business,” said Tyler Griffin, Hunt Real Estate Capital’s chief operating officer.

The deal was all-cash transaction, but the companies did not disclose any financial details beyond that.

“We have always prided ourselves on building cutting edge technology at RealtyMogul,” RealtyMogul CEO Jilliene Helman said. “We learn an incredible amount about what markets to invest in and what specific properties to invest in because of our technology. We are thrilled Hunt is going to deploy it to an even larger piece of the commercial real estate market with their lending business.”


Japanese internet giant Recruit launches $25m SG-based blockchain fund

Recruit Holdings, the Japanese internet giant that acquired jobs and recruiting portal Glassdoor for $1.5 billion last year, has quietly launched a $25-million Singapore-based fund that seeks to invest in blockchain-related startups, according to a company announcement.
The Japanese HR and consumer-information provider said it established the fund – RSP Blockchain Tech Fund – in November 2018 to invest in “promising startup companies” with the aim of discovering new technologies and new business models. The fund, it added, will primarily invest oversea.
“We recognized the growing importance of exploring business opportunities in this field (blockchain technology), and we established the new fund with the aim of rapid investment in related startup companies,” the company said.
The fund’s establishment was only made public last week, or three months after its launch, when Recruit announced its investment, through the fund, in Beam Development, an Israel-based provider of blockchain that protects user information from being leaked to third parties. Financial details of the investment were not disclosed.
Aside from providing a blockchain that prevents transaction data from being leaked, Beam’s token also ensures “auditability of transactions” by allowing data to be verified by a specified third party, Recruit said.
Beam was founded in August last year by Alexander Zaidelson. Before establishing the company, Zaidelson was with CIRTech Venture Capital Fund, a fund that invests in growth- and late-stage technology companies in Israel.
Founded in 1960, the Tokyo-headquartered Recruit Group creates and provides platforms that connect companies and consumers. The company operates a wide range of services, including HR technology, recruitment advertisement, employment placement, staffing, housing, and real estate, bridal, travel, dining, beauty and others.
Recruit has more than 45,000 employees and operates in more than 60 countries.
In May 2018, Recruit agreed to acquire US-based jobs and salaries portal Glassdoor for $1.2 billion in cash, allowing the Japanese firm to gain access to Glassdoor’s extensive cache of content. Glassdoor has almost 59 million monthly users, 40 million reviews and insights for approximately 770,000 companies. Within Recruit, Glassdoor operates as an independent business.
Last year, Recruit also acquired Workopolis, a Canadian website that specialises in online job searching, for an undisclosed amount. In 2012, the company acquired US-based recruitment site Indeed.com.
Ubitquity announces membership into Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO)

Ubitquity announces membership into Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO)

The innovative leader in the blockchain and real estate space joins the not-for-profit trade organization that was previously a section of the National Association of REALTORS®.

Ubitquity LLC, the enterprise-ready blockchain-secured platform for real estate and title recordkeeping, is pleased to announce that it has officially joined the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) as members with Class B Membership reserved for Technology Companies, Developers, Partners & Consultants.

“Ubitquity is proud to be one of the first blockchain companies to join the RESO organization as a member,” said Founder & CEO Nathan Wosnack. “RESO’s commitment to the fostering of technological innovations that secure and democratize real estate data, while at the same time eliminating redundancies that cause delays in the closing process is what Ubitquity is striving to do within the land title industry.”

Ubitquity has a number of Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) tools available on its unanimity? platform, that it has successfully integrated across a variety of industries including aviation escrow and title, title abstracting, as well as secure document management.

“RESO welcomes innovative companies like Ubitquity as we all work together for a streamlined real estate technology industry,” said Art Carter, Chair of the RESO Board and CEO of California Regional MLS (CRMLS). “By becoming a RESO member, Ubitquity takes a seat at the table, actively working within our new Distributed Ledger Workgroup, helping advance our efforts to identify and document property life-cycle events.”

Ubitquity has a number of Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) tools available on its unanimity? platform, that it has successfully integrated across a variety of industries including aviation escrow and title, title abstracting, as well as secure document management.

RESO has more than 850 active members, including NAR, multiple-listing services, real estate associations, brokerages and industry technology providers.


About Ubitquity LLC

UBITQUITY, the enterprise-ready blockchain-secured platform for real estate recordkeeping, offers a simple user experience for securely recording and tracking property deeds and land records. The company is partnered with academia, municipalities, and title companies. 2.1 RC (Release Candidate) version of their platform, unanimity?, is now available at www.ubitquity.io/products.html.


About RESO

RESO actively develops, adopts and implements open and accepted data standards and processes across all real estate transactions. RESO provides an environment for the development and implementation of data standards and processes that facilitate software innovation, ensures portability, eliminates redundancies and obtains maximum efficiencies for all parties participating in real estate transactions.


DivcoWest launches tenant experience app at one of its DC properties

DivcoWest launches tenant experience app at one of its DC properties

The app, called HqO, has been implemented into Divco West’s property located at 1133 15th St NW to provide tenants with control, community, content and commerce opportunities.

Divco West Real Estate Services, a client of investment management company JLL, launched a new tenant experience software platform at its Washington, D.C., property located at 1133 15th St NW.

Boston-based HqO, with an app of the same name, has been implemented to provide tenants with control, community, content and commerce opportunities, a spokesperson for the company tells Technical.ly. The tenant experience (TeX) software is now accessible by all 10 business tenants in the building, which includes approximately 700 employees.

The app provides exclusive discounts and services to neighborhood establishments and partners including on-site events, volunteering and other opportunities. The app can also be used for mobile access and entry into the building as well as a communication tool to connect with other tenants in the building. Representatives from the company were on-site for a launch event of the app on Feb. 12 to help employees download the software.

“We built HqO to enable a better experience for users of the physical space. We believe there are six pillars of great tenant experience: convenience, entertainment, mobility, security, sustainability and wellness,” Mark Rosenthal, vice president of marketing, sales and customer success at HqO told Technical.ly. “We enable experiences across those six pillars with software in four core functions which we call the 4Cs: community, anything that brings people together; commerce, anything that is transaction driven; content, any information about the property or neighborhood; control, things that connect the building, like access. Our software is ultimately a remote control for the building experience.”

At the end of 2018, over 50 percent of the people working in building had downloaded the app, and those numbers have continued to grow each week, Rosenthal tells Technical.ly. About 50 percent of those who have downloaded the app are active monthly. Today, the most used features are content and community driven.

Rosenthal said the partnership between HqO and DivcoWest is ongoing. JLL and DivcoWest both invested in HqO in fall 2018. DivcoWest was first a customer and now also acts as a strategic partner to the company. Since this is a landlord-sponsored program, the app is free to tenants and their employees.

“Our company is rolling out a partnership with HqO on a broader scale. For sure they will definitely be rolled out in my portfolio here in D.C.,” Doug Mueller, executive managing director at JLL, told Technical.ly.

Mueller said since the building does have some vacancies, JLL was even more drawn to the platform to attract more tenants and companies, as not a lot of employees have this service in their offices. HqO will be implemented into another DivcoWest building in the District and one more in Boston as the larger partnership rolls out with plans to take HqO to buildings in San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego, Rosenthal told Technical.ly.


Bring Back The 'Romance' Between Real Estate Agents And Clients

Bring Back The ‘Romance’ Between Real Estate Agents And Clients

Before the advent of technology, a real estate agent could make money sitting in the office all day.

A family would stop at the corner real estate office on their way to the meat store or fruit stand. Storefront offices, referrals from neighbors, and even paper ads brought in the business. These days, getting a client to even call back can take insurmountable effort for agents. But cofounders Alain Kapatashungu, 34, and Emilie Kapatashungu, 32, have an idea.

They met in Lyon, France, while both getting their master’s degrees. With a background in real estate marketing, Burundi-born Alain and France-born Emilie noticed agents spending many hours manually collecting information on online prospects, without any data to help them understand their clients better. They decided they could solve this issue by creating a product that extracted the data for them. According to Alain, Frontdoor, a real estate software platform they founded in 2016, weaves social insights into agents workflow so agents can automatically see who their online leads are, where they’re based and what they do, including their LinkedIn profiles. Both Alain and Emilie hope this can help agents find more natural ways to break the ice and topics to bond over prior to a showing. Like the old days, but with a twist.

Alain claims that with Frontdoor, agents can increase their conversion rate by 3X compared to other tools and save 7 hours per week, allowing agents to focus on what matters the most to them.

With a former RE/MAX president sitting on the board, the couple hope that Frontdoor can take the real estate agent and customer experience to a new level of authenticity.

Maryann Reid: How did you get a former RE/MAX president, a giant in the industry to support Frontdoor?

Alain: I reached out over email. Geoff Lewis, during his tenure, was focused on implementing meaningful technology to empower his agents. Geoff had 118,000 men and women under his leadership and I’m an avid learner so I wanted his feedback on our business. Despite the incredible progress, the real estate space still tends to rely on guesswork and has not seen the productivity increase that other sectors have.

I believe Geoff saw a value proposition as he was thinking about building internally a similar tech product. I shared our vision and background building Frontdoor. He was drawn to it, and a few weeks after that, Geoff accepted to join our real estate board of advisors.

Reid: Why Frontdoor, and not a social media platform or something else?

Emilie: There was no enterprise SaaS platform providing business intelligence alongside leads to boost our productivity and increase our sales. Frontdoor came to exist based solely on a problem we had for years that no existing technology could answer.

Alain: Customers love us because we use real-time actionable insights and predictive algorithms to translate social network data to accurately prioritize leads based on their likelihood to close. We built a world-class layer of technology where good data can impact an agent’s performance in a tremendous way.

Reid: Is there a preference for living in Paris and working primarily in Europe as a real estate startup?

Alain: To be candid after the 2016 elections we felt like it was time to head home. We’re working primarily in the United States as Frontdoor is a U.S. corporation and our relationships and pilot-customers are mainly based in the United States. That being said, Europe has its advantages. We can access 27 new markets easily and the real estate market is bourgeoning. For an early stage company remaining capital efficient is key. The cost of living and the talent pool of engineers is definitely a plus.

Reid: What’s one thing emerging in Europe in real estate that’s important right now?

Alain: What’s emerging currently in Europe besides general confusion around Brexit is not per se technologies but rather markets. We’re seeing markets such as Portugal with franchises such as RE/MAX, and others growing into powerhouses. Compass is not in Europe, yet, but I’m excited, because it’s only a matter of time.

Reid: Who are your roles models as a couple?

Alain: Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen. What they’ve done with Houzz is awesome. They managed to build a company with users worldwide. Adi, Alon are unique founders who happened to be married. They’re trailblazers and you must give honor when it’s due.

Emilie: On a personal side, Pastors Touré Roberts and Sarah Jakes Roberts. They are on such an important mission, opening doors and helping people discover their true self.

Reid: What is some advice you have for couples working together?

Emilie: Ultimately you must be complementary. As a couple, if you’re contemplating the idea here’s what you must ask: If I can do what you can do and you can do what I can do, then one us is irrelevant.

Reid: What’s next?

Alain: Five years from now Frontdoor will be empowering 1 million real estate professionals daily with our tech tools. Social impact is everything. It’s a the core of Frontdoor. Through our “buy one, empower one” mechanism, we’ll help 30,000 homeless out of the streets from the San Francisco Bay Area to Paris and anywhere around the globe afterwards.

Reid: Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Alain: We decided early that a percentage of Frontdoor revenue will go towards a fund that helps eradicate homelessness. For every subscription sold, meaning that every time an agent buys a Frontdoor paid plan, we’ll directly give a percentage to a housing fund for homeless. Businesses must lead the charge by evolving their business models to the benefit of the entire community they’re building, growing and evolving in.

Maryann Reid is an author, and co-founder of Alphanista, a learning platform for multicultural women in management.


RealPage® Introduces Online Reputation Management Solution for Boosting Leasing and Renewals

RealPage, Inc. (NASDAQ:RP), a leading global provider of software and data analytics to the real estate industry, announces the immediate availability of RealPage Reputation Management, enabling property managers to easily monitor, respond to and improve online reviews and social media mentions. A second version, Reputation Management Pro, is available for those wishing to outsource reputation management responsibilities to RealPage professionals.

“Customer reviews are 11 times more trusted than what a business says about itself, and more than 70% of prospects check online reviews before they make a renting decision,” said Jon Pastor, SVP, Consumer Solutions at RealPage. “Online reputation is so critical to leasing now that nobody can afford to take a casual approach to what’s being said. And you can make a huge difference by monitoring it and reacting appropriately.”

RealPage Reputation Management has been in beta testing with Richmond-based Landmark Property Services, whose owner, Judy Olive, praised the software. “Instead of going to all these different sites trying to monitor and respond to what’s being said, you have a dashboard that shows you everything you need to see and do,” she said. “The software is always out there looking for reviews, mentions and photos related to your properties, so you don’t have to.”

RealPage Reputation Management features a central dashboard that tracks activity on 20 major social media and review sites and makes it simple to share and amplify good reviews and respond with diplomacy to negative ones. Through its color-coded heatmap, hashtag trend tracking and benchmarking against competitors, RealPage Reputation Management provides a clear picture of which properties or groups of properties are being praised and which have image problems, enabling managers to address problem areas.

Reputation Management helps clients monitor public, geo-tagged image posts associated with their brands, allowing them to promote the positive and follow up on negative posts, with advanced filtering to simplify monitoring. The software also makes it easy for clients to improve their search rank by auditing and updating online property listings.

Clients wishing to completely outsource reputation management can choose RealPage Reputation Management Pro, where RealPage professionals not only monitor and respond to online activity but also proactively solicit positive reviews from residents through surveys and maintenance follow-ups.

“It’s not just millennials who check online before spending money,” said Olive. “People of every age do it now; it’s part of our culture. And choosing a rental home is among the biggest decisions people make, so property managers who aren’t curating what’s being said on the Internet are making a big mistake.”

For more information about RealPage Reputation Management and Reputation Management Pro, please visit https://www.realpage.com/apartment-marketing/reputation-management.

About RealPage

RealPage is a leading global provider of software and data analytics to the real estate industry. Clients use its platform to improve operating performance and increase capital returns. Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Richardson, Texas, RealPage currently serves over 12,200 clients worldwide from offices in North America, Europe and Asia. For more information about the company, visit https://www.realpage.com.


CRM Software Makes Your Life As A Business Owner A Whole Lot Easier

CRM Software Makes Your Life As A Business Owner A Whole Lot Easier

Building a relationship with current and future customers is an absolute must if you want your business to grow and succeed. For this to happen you’ll need a good CRM system in place. If not, you’d definitely want to get one to make your life easier in many different ways.

Stay Organized And In Control

Important business facets such as data and contacts can now be put in one place instead of being scattered in your smart phone, Gmail, Outlook, spreadsheet and phone book? Now you can put them all in one platform. Real estate CRM software can be your very own VA that works tirelessly to bring you the information you need 24/7. Stay on top of appointments, tasks and have your contacts ready and accessible with just one tap or click.

Implement More Efficient Practices

The great thing about CRM solutions is that it can consolidate all your tools, methods and practices for customer activity, saving you the trouble of sifting through multiple applications and entries. All manual errors are removed and your customers will feel like they’re the best lead you have.

Optimize Your Marketing Strategy

CRM can segment your customers into manageable chunks, thereby allowing you the luxury of seeing which group can bring the most leads or profit. CRM systems inherently make any marketing campaign better as it’s more cost-efficient and targeted than any tool you may have. You’ll be able to see your customer’s behavior and needs and act upon those data for maximum product and service reach, engagement and promotion. CRM products allow you to capture the best leads at the right time.

Manage Social Media Activity

CRMs of today are tied to essential platforms, including social media such as Google+, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for in-system posting and utmost convenience. You won’t have to switch windows or applications to maintain an active presence. With CRM software in place, you’ll be able to quickly respond, comment and engage with your audience then continue working without missing a beat.


Ben Kinney Companies scoops up 2 real estate tech businesses

Ben Kinney Companies scoops up 2 real estate tech businesses

The Washington-based real estate conglomerate acquired Gabbi.ai and Redman Tech, both based in Canada

Ben Kinney Companies, a collection of brokerages and other real estate service enterprises, announced Friday it has acquired a pair of Canadian businesses that specialize in artificial intelligence and website creation.

In a statement, Ben Kinney — founder and CEO of his eponymous companies — revealed that he had scooped up Gabbi.ai and Redman Tech. He said the acquisition should bolster his companies’ mission of cutting down the daily tasks of brokers and agents by as much as 75 percent, and added that owning the tech businesses “is consistent with our vision to keep the real estate agent relevant in every transaction.”

Gabbi.ai bills itself as an artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant that “never sleeps.” It was built by real estate agents and is optimized to work on mobile devices. The company also promises to help eliminate “tedious” tasks and convert more leads for users.

According to a statement from Ben Kinney Companies (BKC), Gabbi.ai also “supports agents by helping book showings, manage client follow-up, task management as well as email, text and phone communications.”

Redman Tech, an IDX website provider, promises to set up “high-converting real estate websites” for agents. The sites can be branded, are mobile friendly, and integrate with multiple listing services.

Both Gabbi.ai and Redman Tech are based in Edmonton, Canada, which Kinney described in his statement as “an international hub of artificial intelligence and machine learning development.” BKC said in its statement that both companies are also a natural compliment to its existing software suite.

The financial details of the acquisitions were not made public.

Washington state-based BKC includes Keller Williams brokerages in Washington state, Colorado, Texas, California, Idaho and the U.K. It also employs sales teams, offers training resources and has a tech platform, among other products and services.

The company also has a track record of buying up real estate-focused tech businesses. In early 2017, for example, BKC acquired real estate software provider Blueroof360, its fifth tech company. Later that year, BKC also picked up a chatbot technology company as well.

Kinney on Friday touted the addition of Gabbi.ai and Redman Tech to this growing real estate empire.

“We are excited about the new technology and strong customer base both Gabbi.ai and Redman bring to the table,” he said in his statement, “however not as excited as we are that the entire staff and leadership team have agreed to stay with [BKC] and become a part of our future growth and opportunities.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II


Seeking an edge, US landlords turn to tenant experience apps

Seeking an edge, US landlords turn to tenant experience apps

The firm that sold Chelsea Market to Google for $2.4 billion has joined three large brokerages, among others, to back software designed to meet the growing demands of a millennial workforce that is changing how office space is leased and managed.

Office workers now interact online or through smartphones and landlords who ignore this trend will lose clients, said Michael Phillips, president of Jamestown LP, a real estate investment firm that mixed off-beat food and retail at Chelsea Market to make it a major Manhattan destination.

Landlords looking to boost the loyalty of tenants have begun rolling out apps that allow them to connect easily with a range of in-house or nearby amenities and services, everything from restaurants and gym classes to office climate controls.

This so-called tenant engagement software is still in its infancy but stands out among the newest features of a US office market that has been disrupted by the move to flexible workspaces where many landlords have lost direct contact with the client.

While US leasing activity is robust and asking rents have declined a touch from highs at or near records, concerns the business cycle is peaking have sent landlords in search of fresh ways to retain tenants.

Jamestown recently invested in HqO, a Boston start-up that also is backed by venture capital firm MetaProp, whose limited partners include brokerages CBRE, JLL and Cushman & Wakefield.

Terms of the Jamestown and MetaProp investments, which have not been previously reported, were not disclosed.

Jamestown at first tested the software at the Innovation and Design Building it owns in Boston’s Seaport District, where the speed of its adoption was startling, Phillips told Reuters.

“What that tells me is the workforce is open to it, craves it, understands it and is engaging with it rapidly,” he said.

In three months, 40% of tenants opened HqO accounts and within six months 60% had done so, he said.

A software platform is needed in commercial real estate but will not be game-changing until the property and technology owners are the same, said Daniel Doyon, managing principal at consultancy Workplace Hospitality Management in San Francisco.

“The real value creation is going to be whoever figures out how to seamlessly blend those two. You can argue WeWork is the one who’s done that,” Doyon said, referring to the New York-based provider of shared workspaces.

Australia’s Equiem, a pioneer in the space with more than 130 buildings using its software in Ireland, Britain, the United States and its home market, also reports a growing client base amid increasing competition from rivals.

Hines, a large US developer, announced in December it was partnering with Paris-based Workwell to roll out tenant experience software in its buildings in Houston, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and elsewhere this year.

Others offering similar software are London-based District Technologies and Lane Technologies Inc. of Toronto.

Equiem recently installed its software in the Nomad Tower in Manhattan, 5 Houston Center in that city’s downtown and the Arborcrest campus in northern Philadelphia.

Melbourne-based Equiem last year hired a US manager as it expands into Canada and Singapore this year. Since its launch in 2011, Equiem has posted a compound annual growth rate of 172%, said Chief Executive Gabrielle McMillan.

Equiem’s software costs around 10 cents per square foot, or about $100,000 annually for a 1 million square foot office tower, which is far less than property management budgets, she said.

The software can create a brand for property owners, drive loyalty among tenants and ultimately lead them to renew their office leases, said McMillan, who moved to New York from Australia last year to supervise the firm’s US expansion.

David Levy, principal of Adams & Co Real Estate LLC, has rolled out Equiem in 20 of his buildings located from 18th to 41st Street, perhaps the hottest swath in Manhattan catering to tech-centric young urban professionals who demand amenities.

Adams has tracked 3,700 users, exercise classes at his buildings are full and the tenant response has been positive, Levy said. But like public relations, he said it is hard to know how well the platform is working. — Reuters


Remine raises $30 million to build the next generation real estate platform for the MLS and agents nationwide

Remine raises $30 million to build the next generation real estate platform for the MLS and agents nationwide

Remine, a real estate data and analytics company, today announced a $30 million Series A funding led by Stripes Group, a New York-based growth equity firm with investments in a number of advanced software, data analytics and enterprise technology companies, including Flatiron Health, Sift Science, SPINS and Upwork, among others. Existing investors participated, bringing the total funding to date to $48 million.

“Remine’s vision is to empower the MLS industry with modern, open and scalable technology which supports front end and input of choice, while adding new reporting and safeguarding controls to ensure the integrity of its data. Stripes shares our passion for building the next great MLS platform and marketplace for our generation,” said Mark Schacknies, CFO and Co-Founder of Remine.

Remine has agreements with more than 40 of the most prestigious MLS markets in the US which covers more than 825,000 real estate agents and their consumer clients. Remine offers the following benefits to MLSs:

  • MLS front end platform that uses big data to provide agents with actionable intelligence
  • A full stack platform for the MLS to support front ends and add/edit of choice
  • Unified database API of public record data, contacts, saved search and MLS data
  • MLS consumer portal that syncs both desktop and mobile

Stripes Partner Ron Shah said, “Most PropTech is trying to disrupt the real estate agent, whereas the Remine team, comprised of seasoned former practitioners and sophisticated technologists, has clearly recognized the opportunity to use leading edge technology to empower and enhance the agent’s capabilities. We believe Remine’s platform will be the central element in the modern ecosystem connecting the real estate agent, the MLS and the consumer.”

“The role of a real estate agent is undergoing so much change, and Remine is all about building tools to keep them at the center of the transaction, by simplifying the daily workflow of agents lives on their desktop and mobile devices for a unified experience,” said Leo Pareja, CEO and co-founder of Remine.

About Remine
Remine is an MLS platform in 40 markets and available to more than 825,000 agents and their clients. Remine uses big data and machine learning to automate decisions and workflows for the most comprehensive agent and consumer search experience. For more information on Remine, please visit www.Remine.com.

About Stripes Group
Stripes Group is a leading growth equity firm that brings a unique, entrepreneurial approach to investing in high-growth SaaS and Consumer businesses around the world. For over a decade, Stripes has been partnering with market-defining companies to provide them with the support they need to accelerate growth and achieve their long-term vision. Stripes’ mission is to have a culture, set of resources and expertise that provide entrepreneurs with an unparalleled advantage in markets that are evolving rapidly due to changes in technology and consumer behavior. For more information on Stripes Group, please visit www.stripesgroup.com.


Crypto Emporium Accepts Dash for Luxury Goods Purchases

Crypto Emporium Accepts Dash for Luxury Goods Purchases

Launched in February 2018, Crypto Emporium is an online cryptocurrency-only luxury emporium. It offers luxury brands at a competitive cost, including electronics, vehicles, property, precious metals, and more. Crypto Emporium stands as one of the very first e-commerce businesses to exclusively accept cryptocurrency for purchases.

According to Crypto Emporium founder Stephen Travers, Dash was selected for integration due to its fast transaction times and low fees, and his faith in the project’s long-term vision.

“A lot of thought goes into the cryptocurrencies that we accept on Crypto Emporium. Having only integrated 6 coins before Dash, it goes to show just how much of a stringent process it is. Most importantly, we have to believe in the project long-term This is important to both protect our business, but also as a responsibility to our customers/clients. Having heard the outreach from the Dash community, we conducted our own research into the project and eventually put the question to the Twitter community. The feedback was excellent.“

Dash Core CEO Ryan Taylor believes that Dash will be a natural fit for Crypto Emporium’s users due to low fees and fast confirmation times.

“I’m excited that Crypto Emporium has chosen to integrate Dash as a payments option. As a payments-focused network, Dash provides a payment experience that Crypto Emporium users will love, including rapid confirmation times and micro fees.”

In addition to the low fees and fast confirmations offered by Dash as a payment network, the strong and motivated Dash community stands out as an asset. According to Travers, the degree and quality of engagement from the Dash community came as a surprise.

“Honestly we were quite taken aback by the response from the Dash community. After receiving a number of emails asking us to accept Dash on Crypto Emporium and conducting our own research, we put the question to the community on Twitter. What a brilliantly motivated, helpful, considerate and knowledgeable community Dash possesses. We’ve always felt the relationship between a project and their investors/holders says a lot about that project in general. It’s something we’ve always been incredibly mindful of in the past and have managed to build great relationships with many of the cryptocurrencies that we support. We look forward to building this relationship with Dash and serving their community with distinction.”

Dash is one of the most popular cryptocurrencies for payments, and is accepted at a large number and wide variety of merchants, with nearly 5,000 listed on Dash merchant listing site DiscoverDash. It has a rapidly growing global presence with strong merchant adoption in key areas such as Venezuela, Colombia, New Hampshire, and Germany. Dash’s global growth as a currency has been covered by major news outlets such as CNN and MarketWatch.

About Crypto Emporium:
Crypto Emporium is the world’s first cryptocurrency-only luxury emporium. Launched in February 2018, Crypto Emporium offers a wealth of high-end items available for purchase including cryptocurrency mining equipment, precious metals, watches, electronics, motorbikes, cars, yachts and property investment, with products available to be shipped worldwide. Crypto Emporium employs an expert team with vast experience of negotiating and dealing with manufacturers, suppliers and dealers, with contacts around the world that cater to all the needs of an ever-growing list of customers.

About Dash:
Dash is the leading e-commerce and payments-focused digital currency. With more than 1,000% year-over-year growth in both value and trading volume since 2015, Dash has been consistently ranked in the top digital currencies by market capitalization, and only one of the few offering safe, decentralized and low-cost financial solutions to real world problems. Dash offers a form of money that is portable, inexpensive, divisible and fast. It can be spent easily and instantly online at merchants across the globe, at much lower fees than credit and debit cards. With more than 70 members on the development team and a unique blockchain mining and treasury model, Dash is the only major self-funded, self-governed organization in the cryptocurrency industry. This allows for constant development and funding for the entire project so community members can upload and vote on proposals, and if they are approved, they are paid for directly from the blockchain. Dash plans to unveil its landmark product Dash Evolution, the industry’s first user-friendly decentralized payments platform, in 2019


Warburg-backed Indonesian real estate platform NWP Retail raises $200m

Warburg-backed Indonesian real estate platform NWP Retail raises $200m

Indonesian real estate platform NWP Retail has raised about $200 million in its latest funding round, it announced on Monday.
The fresh funding comes from new investors Korean Teachers’ Credit Union (KTCU) and the CITIC Securities One-Belt-One-Road (CSOBOR) Fund, as well as from existing shareholder Warburg Pincus.
Founded in 2015 by Warburg Pincus and PT City Retail Developments, NWP Retail focuses on developing multi-tenanted modern shopping malls across key cities in Indonesia to capitalize on the significant growth in these areas being driven by rapid urbanization, emerging middle-class consumption and outsized economic expansion.
Since inception, NWP Retail has grown rapidly to become one of Indonesia’s largest real estate platforms today, with a portfolio of 33 projects covering approximately 800,000 square meters of gross floor area.
Led by president director and CEO Timothy Daly, the company has built a team of 140 staff based in Jakarta, with capabilities spanning all major functions including sourcing, acquisition, development, leasing and asset management.
The new round of financing will enable NWP Retail to further accelerate its growth in a capital constrained market, according to Warburg Pincus managing director and Southeast Asia head Jeffrey Perlman.
“Modern retail continues to remain meaningfully undersupplied with over 70% of the top 200 cities still unmalled today, and NWP Retail has the opportunity to build on its position as the leading independent retail developer, owner and operator in Indonesia,” he said.
Private equity giant Warburg Pincus made its first investment in Indonesia in 2015, investing $125 million to build and develop hypermarket anchored retail malls in Indonesia in a joint venture with local operator Nirvana Development.
Since then, it has made several other investments in Indonesian companies, most notably becoming one of the backers of the country’s ride-hailing giant Go-Jek. One of its most recent deals in the country was as an anchor investor in a $25-million Series B round for tax compliance solutions provider OnlinePajak.


MRI Software buys Colorado company

MRI Software buys Colorado company

MRI Software LLC, a Solon-based provider of real estate and investment management software to real estate owners, investors and operators, has acquired a company in Colorado.

It did not disclose terms of the acquisition of CTM Software, which provides residential real estate workflow and transaction management software. An MRI spokesman said in an email that he did not have an employment figure for CTM.

In a news release, MRI said the acquisition expands its “global residential real estate business for sales, rentals and property management and enhances the company’s capabilities in document management workflow and electronic signature solutions.”

CTM Software was founded in Colorado in 2003 to serve the real estate and title markets. MRI said in the release that CTM “enables agents across Colorado to streamline the residential real estate transaction process.”

John Ensign, president and chief legal officer of MRI, said in a statement that the acquisition “is an ideal entry point for MRI into the extensive U.S. residential real estate agent market.” He said CTM has “a 90% market share among Colorado residential real estate agents” and added, “We believe that with MRI’s size, resources and ability to scale, we can bring that success nationwide.”

MRI has about 1,300 employees.


Huobi To Cooperate With Prime Trust

Huobi To Cooperate With Prime Trust

American exchange HBUS (Huobi Group department) will cooperate with Prime Trust – a financial company based in Nevada – to support fiat deposit and withdrawal.
American trust company Prime Trust provides protected deal service and works with fiat and crypto currency transactions.
The parties have come to the agreement. Since that, it is possible to trade Bitcoin, Ethereum and Tether USD in par with USD on HBUS platform. According to HBUS CEO, the company is intended to make several deals in USA. At the moment, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic and Tether USD are already listed. HBUS is planning to work with institutional clients and plans to hire more employees.
Singaporean crypto currency exchange Huobi was founded in 2013 and has departments in many countries in the world, including USA, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Great Britain. According to the latest statistics, Huobi is ranked third by daily trading volume. Huobi Group unites ten companies. It is a leading company in the area of blockchain technologies. Its turnover exceeds $1 trillion. According to CoinMarketCap, Huobi is the third largest exchange by daily trading volume. ($393 million).


Hawaii Life acquires Oahu-based real estate firm

Hawaii Life acquires Oahu-based real estate firm

Hawaii Life today announces the acquisition of East Oahu Realty, Hawaii Kai’s leading real estate brokerage which has been serving Oahu for 27 years. The move strengthens Hawaii Life’s commitment to the Oahu real estate market. Hawaii Life was founded on Kauai in 2008 and has expanded into a statewide real estate company serving all islands.

“We are honored to welcome East Oahu Realty to Hawai’i Life,” said Matt Beall, Hawai’i Life CEO and Principal Broker, “They are a team of absolute professionals. The average agent at East Oahu has 21 years of experience in real estate. It’s both validating and exciting to get to work with them,” he continued.

“We are excited to offer our clients the tremendous marketing capabilities and exposure that Hawaii Life offers, along with new tools and technology that will help our agents stay relevant in today’s real estate landscape,” said Cherie Tsukamoto, Principal Broker at East Oahu Realty. Tsukamoto will continue to lead the team and operations as Broker-in-Charge at Hawai’i Life’s East Oahu office, located in the Hawaii Kai Towne Center.

Founder Jack Leslein launched East Oahu Realty in 1992 using funds from the sale of his home. He set out to build a business that would give back to his clients and his community while offering flexibility for agents. Fulfilling Leslein’s dream, his East Oahu team developed a highly respected reputation for personalized client service, growing over the years to more than 70 agents, brokers and support staff.

Leislein’s fundamental principle of servant leadership shaped the company’s culture. It continues to inform his team’s decision-making, even beyond his recent passing in December 2018. Tsukamoto has carefully observed Hawaii Life over the years, watching their decade-long emergence as the leading listing brokerage in the state. She noted the similarities that led to their decision to join Hawaii Life.

“Naturally, we were impressed with Hawaii Life’s image and brand,” said Tsukamoto, “but more importantly, we liked their culture and the company’s leadership. Like us, they are locally owned and operated. While they are tech savvy, they have also focused on building relationships to achieve their remarkable growth,” continued Tsukamoto.

East Oahu Realty clients will benefit from Hawai’i Life’s unrivaled statewide network, exclusive affiliations and brand recognition. Hawaii Life is the exclusive statewide affiliate of CHRISTIE’S International Real Estate and an affiliate of Luxury Portfolio International®, both of which serve top-tier markets around the world. Hawaii Life leads the state in listings and sales above the $3 million luxury benchmark.

Highly attuned to the impact of quality design in real estate marketing, as well as the reach that brand recognition and digital platforms could provide, Hawaii Life founders Matt Beall and Winston Welborn set out in 2008 to create a cutting-edge, innovative brokerage that put digital marketing and design ahead of more traditional real estate selling tools.

Hawaii Life now operates the state’s most trafficked real estate website, with more than 3 million online visitors per year. Online buyers are attracted by Hawaii Life’s robust and relevant real estate content, driven in part by the Hawaii Life television program which airs on the HGTV network. The show reaches a television audience of more than 20 million viewers nationwide, with millions more in Canada and online. HGTV has produced 169 episodes spanning 12 seasons. Each one follows a Hawaii Life agent and their client in the homebuying process.

About Hawaii Life
Hawai’i Life is the state’s leading luxury real estate brokerage firm with 17 offices statewide. Founded in 2008, Hawaii Life is 100% locally created, owned, and operated. Hawaii Life employs close to 350 real estate agents statewide, and together they achieved more than $1.7 billion in sales in 2018. Hawaii Life is the exclusive affiliate of CHRISTIE’S International Real Estate in Hawaii, as well as an affiliate of Luxury Portfolio International®. To learn more about Hawaii Life, please visit Hawaii’s most trafficked real estate website at hawaiilife.com.


Real estate business Aprirose launches hotel operating platform

The new platform will initially be operated in conjunction with Kew Green Hotels, which will provide systems and support while the new service is established.

Aprirose owns 25 hotel assets operating under a number of brands belonging to Hilton, Marriott and AccorHotels, as well as its own QHotels brand, which it acquired in September 2017 and is currently undergoing significant asset management and modernisation.

Five QHotels were rebranded to Doubletree by Hilton hotels last year, while a further two properties will be rebadged as Delta by Marriott hotels due in early 2019.

Tim Shearman, chief executive of Aprirose Hotels, said: “The creation of our own hotel operating platform is an exciting new development in the growth and evolution of our hotel portfolio as we have further expansion plans nationally and internationally. It demonstrates our long-term commitment to the sector and will allow us to recruit industry leading talent and drive value for our clients.

“By initially working with the experienced Kew Green Hotels team it will allow us to hit the ground running and offer a seamless and best-in-class service to our customers.”


Platform for Secure Real Estate Wire Communications

New Platform for Secure Real Estate Wire Communications

Greenbriar Capital Corp. (GRB:TSX.V; GEBRF:OTC) announced in a news release that subsidiary RealBlock Ltd.’s RealBloq.io platform is now live and collecting revenue with branches of two title companies, Title Security and Landmark Title.

The technology, addressing the problem of wire fraud, provides a secure platform to communicate wire instructions between buyers, sellers and other stakeholders related to closing real estate transactions.

“As wire fraud incidents continue to escalate, the need to secure the exchange of documents and communications between buyers, sellers, and others involved in real estate transactions are more crucial than ever. It’s often the biggest financial transaction of their lives, and we want to do everything we can to ensure it works as it should. RealBloq is the new standard of care in the title industry,” Title Security CEO Tommy Sullivan said in the release.

RealBlock aims to reach 720,000 transactions, amounting to $168 million in revenue, by February 2020.


GAC, Tencent Ink Deal To Create Mobility Company

GAC, Tencent Ink Deal To Create Mobility Company

GAC Group, the state-owned Chinese car company, announced Thursday (Jan. 31) that it is teaming up with Tencent, the internet and gaming company, to create a mobility company.

A report, citing a Chinese regulatory filing, stated that Guangzhou Public Transport Group and other investors will also back the new entity. In 2017, GAC and Tencent inked a partnership to develop internet-connected cars and build artificial intelligence into vehicles to aid in driving. The two are also looking at eCommerce related to automobiles. At the time, GAC said it wanted to access Tencent‘s knowledge in digital payments, social media, Big Data and AI.

Under the terms of the deal, which was inked Thursday, the venture will get one billion yuan, or $149 million, in capital. GAC owns 35 percent, while Tencent gets a 25 percent stake and Guangzhou Public Transport holds 10 percent of the company.

Tencent, which operates WeChat, the hugely popular messaging app in China, has been diversifying its business with a focus on enterprises. In September, it announced its first restructuring in six years, driven by tougher regulations for its core businesses in China. At the time, Tencent Vice President Zhong Xiangping said the company’s autonomous driving business was focused on being a software and services provider, announcing a unit that provides cloud services to business partners in connected cars.

The deal between GAC and Tencent comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this week that ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing reached a deal with BAIC, the state-owned car company. Chinese technology companies and automakers have been increasingly teaming up as they aim to bring more technology into vehicles. GAC has previously worked with Huawei and iFlytek to improve upon its vehicles, noted the report.