Almost two years after Brandon Weber merged his property software startup Hightower with rival VTS, he is taking a step back from the combined company.
Weber, who currently serves as VTS’ chief product officer and is billed as a co-founder, will give up his day job, he told The Real Deal on Monday. He will continue to sit on the company’s board and work as a senior adviser to CEO Nick Romito on a part-time basis.
“For the last two years almost, Nick and I have been heads down, trying to make the merger work,” Weber said. “We’ve done that. I feel very good about where we are right now. Now is the time where I could actually come up for air a bit and (think about) what I really want to do long-term and what’s the right personal fit for me.”
Weber said he will spend the next few months traveling in the Himalayas, Japan and South America before making a decision about his professional future. He added that that while he found his work as chief product officer “interesting,” it wasn’t an ideal fit. “Long-term I think I’m probably not going to be a chief product officer, I don’t think that’s what I’m best in the world at,” he said. The company is still looking for a new chief product officer to replace Weber.
Weber founded Hightower in 2013 and went on to raise $22 million from investors including Thrive Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners and RRE. The company sold portfolio management software to commercial landlords and competed fiercely with VTS, which was co-founded by Romito and Ryan Masiello and offered a similar product and had also raised tens of millions of dollars in venture capital. In November 2016, they announced a rare merger between two similarly sized and similarly promising real estate tech startups. They decided to keep the VTS name, and Romito became CEO of the combined firm.
The merger, which at the time valued the combined company at $300 million, immediately raised questions about how Weber and Romito would get along. “These are two of the top guys. They have egos. It’s going to be tough for anyone,” Zach Aarons, co-founder of real estate tech investment and advisory firm MetaProp, told TRD at the time. “But making hundreds of millions of dollars each is not the end of the world. They’re not stupid.”
Weber and Romito said they’re friends and will continue to talk every day. “We’ll have a lifelong relationship,” Romito said. “And, candidly, he’s putting a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. Our net worth is tied up in this company.”
In June, the company announced the launch of MarketView, a software tool that allows landlords to compare their portfolios’ financial performance against benchmarks built from VTS’ database.
Weber’s departure follows that of SVP of enterprise sales Andrew Flint. Meanwhile, the company hired Silicon Valley veteran Amy Millard as chief marketing officer in March. And on Monday it announced another key hire: Josh Evans is joining VTS as chief revenue officer. He previously spent 10 years as an executive at sales automation software company Velocify. Masiello, who previously served as VTS’ CRO, is now the company’s chief strategy officer.