VC-backed brokerage Side raises $35M for national expansion

Round led by ex-Trulia president Paul Levine

Nov.November 07, 2019 01:28 PM
Paul Levine of Sapphire Ventures and Guy Gal

Paul Levine of Sapphire Ventures and Guy Gal

UPDATED: November 7, 4:50 p.m.: Side, a VC-backed brokerage that provides white-label tools to agents who run their own businesses, has raised $35 million to fuel its national expansion.

The Series C, led by Paul Levine of Sapphire Ventures, brings Side’s total funding to more than $60 million, the company said. Founded in 2017, the San Francisco-based brokerage currently has 500 agents in California and Texas, who it said are on track to close $8 billion in deals next year.

Along with Levine, a former president and COO of Trulia, investors in the round include Trinity Ventures’ Patricia Nakache and Matrix Partners’ Dana Stalder. In a statement, Levine said Side’s mix of technology and support “helps entrepreneurial agents grow.”

Until now, the Silicon Valley brokerage has focused predominantly on the West Coast. It has 68 branch offices, 66 of which are in California. But it says its value proposition to agents is the back-office and marketing support it provides. Side offers a slew of white-label tools, including marketing products and automatic transaction management.

CEO Guy Gal said the funding round will enable Side to expand into Southern California though he said he’s wary of moving too quickly and intends to grow “sustainably and slowly but surely.” He said 30 percent of Side’s business each month comes from referrals, which is guiding its geographic expansion.

Side has capitalized on the phenomenon of star agents, whose names are sometimes better known than those of the firms they work with. That paradigm has put more pressure on brokerage firms to prove their value to agents who run their own businesses.

“There’s a segment of entrepreneurial agents who are using brokerages as transaction processing vendors — nothing more,” Gal said. “We said, ‘Why don’t we actually build something that’s built for their need, and not some one-size-fits-all mold.’”

For example, Ben Bacal, one of Los Angeles’ biggest names in luxury brokerage, recently left Rodeo Realty. He’s now running a standalone team, Revel Real Estate, that’s part of Side.

Last month Warburg’s Clelia Peters joined the board of Side. MetaProp, the New York City-based venture capital fund and accelerator that Peters co-founded, invested in earlier rounds.

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