Thrive-backed startup builds momentum

May.May 01, 2014 07:00 AM
From left:

From left: Hightower founders Niall Smart, Donald DeSantis and Brandon Weber

A New York City–based real estate tech start-up backed by Joshua Kushner’s Thrive Capital is building momentum. Hightower, a real estate portfolio analytics service launched in July, enables commercial landlords and leasing brokers to track building performance. It shows inventory age and status, the time that it takes to get deals done and even where they’re losing deals — helping them to figure out prospective tenants’ deal breakers.

Hightower’s cloud- and mobile-based platform also enables leasing teams and landlords to collaborate on deal tracking from any device.

The startup, founded by Brandon Weber, Niall Smart and Donald DeSantis, closed its first round of seed funding in December, raising $2.12 million from investors including Bessemer Venture Partners and Thrive Capital. Thrive, founded by Kushner, also has interests in real estate-related start-ups like 42 Floors and Urban Compass. Kushner sits on Hightower’s board.

Hightower has earned credibility as major brokerages like Cassidy Turley, Jones Lang LaSalle and CBRE and institutional owners like Beacon Capital Partners have signed on to use the service. Last month, Hightower inked a deal with JP Morgan Asset Management.

“From the market’s perspective, we’re the new kids on the block,” said Weber, who, prior to founding Hightower did stints at Microsoft, Zillow and even at CBRE.

“I was the nerdy broker,” he said. “When we would come in and present to institutional owners, we would bring with us forecasts of the market and micromarkets and analysis of development pipelines and the impact they would have on their building. I would manually aggregate that data. It was painstaking and incredibly slow, but it became kind of my calling card.”

Hightower has 14 employees and a 2,500-square-foot office at 149 Grand Street in Soho. Weber said they are looking to double that space.

“Everyone talks about commercial real estate as being an industry that’s 20 years behind the curve in terms of technology, but it’s waking up,” Weber said.


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