Like many industries in the wake of the global pandemic, real estate seems to be completely frozen. Without viewings, housing sales are dipping; without customers, commercial leases aren’t getting signed; and without economic growth, property prices are declining as investors wait for clarity in the weeks and months ahead.
On the tech side though, real estate may just be one of the most interesting verticals in which to launch a company and raise capital today. Startups have tried for years to break in and disrupt the sclerotic real estate industry, but the acute challenges facing it today offer an opportunity for startups to finally break through.
On the Extra Crunch stage at TechCrunch Disrupt (Sept 14-18), we want to take stock of where the market is and what the opportunities are for ambitious founders looking to prod an asset class with trillions in capital finally into the 21st century. Thankfully, we have some of the smartest real estate tech investors in the world stopping by to discuss precisely those opportunities and what is going to happen next.
Joining us on stage will be Merritt Hummer of Bain Capital Ventures, Brendan Wallace of Fifth Wall and Connie Chan of Andreessen Horowitz.
Hummer is a growth investment partner at Bain in real estate tech and fintech more broadly. Just a few weeks ago, she led a $28 million round for Material Bank, which is a logistics platform for paint swatches and material samples designed to help architects and builders pick the right options during construction. If that sounds simple, it isn’t: The company built out a facility next to FedEx’s shipping center in Memphis and uses robots to rapidly turn around sample orders to clients.
Wallace co-founded Fifth Wall, a venture firm devoted pretty much exclusively to real estate tech that raised a second fund of roughly $500 million in 2019 and a $100 million retail-focused fund earlier this year. Fifth Wall has backed such real estate startups as Opendoor, Hippo Insurance, Loft and many more. A long-time angel investor, he formerly founded Identified, which was acquired by Workday.
Chan is general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, and has for years been a bridge for the firm between the U.S., China and Asia more broadly. Earlier this year, she invested in Run the World, a platform for running virtual events now that more conventional, in-person exhibition halls have been closed due to social distancing. It’s a popular company these days, since just weeks later, the company announced another round of capital led by Founders Fund.
Together, we will talk about the current state of real estate today, where startups can have the most influence in terms of traction in this quickly changing sector, and then expand our view on what real estate even means in a world where remote work is getting more and more purchase and travel and tourism are being entirely upended. You won’t want to miss this.
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