In one of commercial real estate technology’s biggest-ever fundraising efforts, VTS raised $55 million in a Series C round led by Insight Venture Partners. The round values the cloud-based leasing and portfolio management platform at about $200 million, sources familiar with VTS told The Real Deal, and makes it one of the industry’s richest startups.
“This is not a consumer market play. It’s a vertical fast play,” said Ryan Masiello, VTS’ chief revenue officer and co-founder, referring to the winner-take-all environment that enterprise software companies operate in. “To successfully raise a Series C, it’s really, really hard,” and needs investors to see a track record of revenue growth and market dominance, he added.
Insiders said the firm is looking at a 2016 revenue target of $14 million, primarily in the form of subscription fees. Clients include some of the city’s biggest landlords, such as SL Green Realty and RXR Realty, brokerages such as CBRE and JLL, and real estate investors such as LaSalle Investment Management.
VTS will use the new capital for product development and customer support, according to CEO Nick Romito, and the funds can also serve as a war chest for acquiring competitors down the road.
The round, Romito said, was about “finding the right partners who are going to support the vision come hell or high water.” Insight, a New York-based venture capital firm, invests mainly in growth-stage companies, including enterprise software firm Zenefits and market intelligence firms Alteryx and Wealth-X. Insight’s Jason Ewell will take a seat on VTS’ board. OpenView Venture Partners, which led VTS’ $21 million Series B round in July, also participated in the Series C, as did another previous investor, Trinity Ventures. In total, the firm has raised about $84 million from investors.
According to Pitchbook, a market intelligence platform for private equity and venture capital, VTS’ pre-money valuation at the time of Blackstone Group’s $3.3 million investment in January 2015 was about $30 million. At the time of its Series B in July 2015, the pre-money valuation was $68.3 million. The value of individual shares issued to investors also climbed significantly, from about $6 in the seed round to just under $23 in the Series B, according to Pitchbook.
Based on the numbers, it “looks like the company is meeting all its targets and exceeding them,” a Pitchbook researcher said. In comparison, Hightower, a VTS competitor backed by the likes of Thrive Capital and RRE Ventures, had a pre-money valuation of $51.3 million at the time of its Series B in May 2015, according to Pitchbook.
Pitchbook’s analysis did not include VTS’ new Series C round, and VTS declined to comment on the figures. But it appears as if VTS’ founders have given up a large stake in the startup to preferred investors, roughly 58 percent between the seed and Series B according to Pitchbook, and presumably another big chunk in the Series C.
Founded in 2011 as View the Space, VTS now has 150 employees. With the help of $2 million in state tax credits, it recently moved to a 15,800-square-foot space at 114 West 41st Street, a property owned by Blackstone affiliate Equity Office. Masiello said the firm intends to double its head count over the next year, which means another relocation or expansion may be in the cards.
The company will soon roll out a product geared to tenant representation brokers. In recent months, it also struck deals with market intelligence firms like lease comp provider CompStak and financial data firm S&P Capital IQ. Giving landlords and brokers access to such tools in one system will allow them to better benchmark performance, forecast growth and market their portfolios to the right tenants, Romito said, adding that the goal is to be real estate’s answer to the Bloomberg terminal.
VTS’ round is among the largest raised by a real estate technology startup: Google invested $50 million in Auction.com in March 2014, LendingHome raised $70 million in April 2015, and Cadre, a real estate investment startup backed by Jared and Joshua Kushner, raised $50 million in January.
But the round stands out for another reason: VTS raised its money at a time of heightened pessimism about venture-backed technology startups, with observers noting that many are shoring up for lean times ahead. Romito, too, noted that people were more bearish about the market.
“We, like everybody else, continue to hear these doomsday stories,” he said. Investor excitement in VTS, however, is based on fundamentals rather than hype, he said, and deep pockets will help the company extend its lead and eventually send the competition packing.
“There’s consolidation to be had,” Romito said. “Whether it’s via acquisition or acqui-hire, they [our investors] want to help us.”