Watch: Could technologists become tomorrow’s real estate moguls?

TRD sits down with Fifth Wall to discuss proptech's evolution

National /
Jan.January 04, 2022 11:06 AM

The summit of real estate used to be the domain of the “cowboys” — the Harry Helmsleys, Bill Zeckendorfs and Harry Macklowes, buccaneers who mastered the art of relationship-building and taking outsized risks. The industry then came to be dominated by the “suits,” structured-finance whizzes such as Jon Gray and Marc Holliday who brought a Wall Street ethos to the business.

The next shift is to the “technologists,” according to The Real Deal‘s Hiten Samtani.

“With that shift comes more openness to investing in technology, implementing technology,” Samtani said during a conversation with Fifth Wall’s Brendan Wallace on the venture capital firm’s “Fly on the Wall” podcast.

The two discussed the evolution of proptech in just a decade from an afterthought to a core component of the industry, and talked about how incumbents can leverage their portfolios and capital to transform into a new kind of real estate company.

“There’s a lot of forgiveness built in, and there are so many opportunities to get it right,” Samtani said. “The people who are going to define the future of the industry are going to be smart incumbents who say, ‘My NOI is $300 million, I am printing money right now. I could take 10 percent of that and invest it. I have 6 million square feet of office — let me take 500,000 square feet of that and try something completely bananas, and then scale it out.”

Check out highlights of the conversation in the video above, or head here to listen to the extended conversation in podcast form.


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