At the desk of: Rich Sarkis

The Reonomy co-founder, fresh off a $60 million funding round, on Texas Hold’em, overseeing a ‘venture-backed thing’ and English soccer

Dec.December 04, 2019 03:45 PM

Rich Sarkis (Photos by Emily Assiran)

Rich Sarkis’ office has no imposing mahogany table or wall of photos featuring him with celebrities or industry powerbrokers. 

His white desk is largely barren, save for a few essentials. But Sarkis’ Midtown office is a long way from the tiny Chelsea space where he co-founded his company, Reonomy, back in 2013.

The real estate data and analytics firm has grown massively since then. That growth has been fueled by some of the largest investors in real estate venture capital, including SoftBank, Bain Capital Ventures and Sapphire Ventures.

Last month, the startup — which has intel on 50 million commercial properties across the U.S. and claims to covers 99 percent of the market — closed on a $60 million series D funding round, backed by Citi Ventures and Wells Fargo. 

That round brought its total cash raised up to $128 million and is going to be used for international expansion to Canada and the U.K. The firm, which counts the likes of CBRE and Brookfield as clients, will also use the capital to build additional products for financial services clients. 

Sarkis, who is 40, grew up in London, where he went to a French school, then moved to the U.S. to attend Williams College in Massachusetts, where he majored in economics and psychology. Before graduating in 2001, he launched a series of businesses, including an online platform that imported textbooks and sold them to college students at a discount. But he largely abandoned it after big U.S. book retailers allegedly threatened to take action against his European suppliers. The experiment provided good fodder for his application to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, which admitted him in 2005. 

From there, Sarkis joined the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company, where he became an associate partner, focusing on financial services. In 2012, he quit and went back to his entrepreneurial roots. It was then that he met Charlie Oshman, a data engineer with experience in commercial real estate. Together, the pair co-founded Reonomy, which now occupies the top two floors at 767 Third Avenue and has about 120 employees. Sarkis lives with his wife and two kids in Manhattan.

Planter box
Reonomy started out at 247 West 30th Street in an office that Sarkis equated to the size of a supply closet. His wife, Stephanie, whom he met at Williams, wanted to celebrate the fact that the company had opened its own office, and she gave him this planter box. “It was ours,” Sarkis said. “And so, my wife’s like, ‘Here you go, office warming.’”

Sarkis still uses his Hewlett Packard 48G high school calculator (which has his former nickname “Rick” carved into its shell) to do quick math. While the calculator still comes in handy, it is a far cry from the calculations Reonomy does. The firm’s database pulls info from hundreds of sources and uses algorithms and artificial intelligence to generate property information for investors, developers and other real estate players. 

This mug was molded (with help) by Sarkis’ daughter when she was two (she’s now eight). But it’s been through the ringer. It was glued back together after one of his employees borrowed (and broke) it. Sarkis, who attends investor meetings in jeans and a hoodie, by no means cuts an intimidating figure. But the employees were “all scared to tell me.” 

Poker Chips
Sarkis tinkers with these poker chips, but they also come in handy for the company’s monthly poker nights. Games are always No-Limit Texas Hold’em, and buy-ins rarely exceed $20. Pizza and sandwiches are usually served. Outside of the office, Sarkis steers clear of gambling. “I have enough risk in my life overseeing a venture-backed thing,” he said.

Sarkis has played in a fantasy football league with college friends for 20 years. This purple bobblehead was sent by Yahoo! (which previously hosted the league) after Sarkis’ team, dubbed Eurotrash, won the season. He’s held onto it because the colors remind him of Williams and the college’s mascot: the purple cow.

Soccer Jersey
Like many of his English brethren, Sarkis is an avid soccer fan. He grew up backing the Tottenham Hotspurs. To recognize Reonomy’s sixth anniversary, his staff gave him this jersey, which was from the club’s 1991 FA Cup Final win — its most famous game. It was also signed by Sarkis’ favorite player, Paul Gascoigne. “I’m very rarely surprised by gifts or anything like that in my life,” he said.

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