Fresh off its public debut last week, Google Capital is putting more money to work this week with the announcement of a $50 million investment in real estate marketplace Auction.com. The valuation of the company post-money is $1.2 billion, and a representative from Google Capital will join the company’s Board of directors and another will take a board observer position.
Similar to other real estate marketplaces, Auction.com connects buyers and sellers of real estate. And the company has sold $26 billion of property since inception. What differentiates Auction.com is that the real estate transaction actually happens online. It’s been described as an “eBay for real estate.” Financing options remain the same as in the offline world (it happens via a bank). Similar to eBay, the highest bidder wins on these auctions.
Another unique factor to Auction.com is that it lists a broad swath of inventory, from luxury homes, to multi-story office buildings, to a foreclosed home, or a self-storage facility. Auction.com actually handles tens of thousands of transactions across commercial and residential real estate for customers ranging from the largest financial institutions to individuals and brokers.
Launched in 2008, Auction.com only started expanding in Silicon Valley last year, with the company’s headquarters in Southern California. And while Auction.com has raised money from private equity, it hasn’t used much of its unvested capital and is profitable.
Of course, you can draw comparisons to other real estate marketplaces like Zillow or Trulia. As Jake Seid, president of Auction.com, explained in an interview, “Trip Advisor is to Priceline as Zillow is to Auction.com.” He sees sites like Zillow as compliemtary.
The site says it vets sellers and buyers and requires proofs of funds and other checks before enabling any transaction, and Auction.com takes a 5 percent cut of each transaction.
“Auction.com has quietly built one of the largest marketplaces on the web,” said David Lawee, Partner at Google Capital. “We think Auction.com can fundamentally change how real estate, and particularly commercial real estate, can be bought and sold, leveling the playing field for smaller investors.”
We’re told the new funding will be put towards product expansion, mobile development, and sales and marketing.