Side hustle: VC-backed resi firm grows in SoCal

Matt Luke (Getty Images and iStock)
Matt Luke (Getty Images and iStock)

Flush with venture capital money, San Francisco-based Side is moving deeper into Southern California, announcing partnerships Monday with agent teams in Orange, San Diego, and Riverside counties.

Side, founded in 2017, will become the broker of record for the Matt Luke Home Team in Orange County (an agency headed by former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Luke), Market Real Estate in San Diego, and Tyson Robinson’s Trillion Real Estate in Riverside County.

The expansion continues Side’s model of partnering with boutique real estate shops, but neither acquiring those agencies nor putting its brand identity onto the agencies — in contrast to other recently created brokerages such as Compass and The Agency.

The Northern California company’s biggest splash in the L.A. market came in October, when Side was announced as broker of record for Ben Bacal’s new agency, Revel Real Estate.

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

Side’s expansion is fueled by what Gal asserted to be over $70 million in venture capital financing, including a $35 million funding round in November. Side’s principal financiers are Sapphire Ventures, Trinity Ventures, and Matrix Partners, Gal said.

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The company’s latest partnerships include Matt Luke’s Placentia-based “Major League Properties,” which includes four additional agents.

Side also plucked Trillion Real Estate in Temecula, a 14-person agency that claims $30 million in total home sales over the past year.

In San Diego, Side is expanding through Jeff Rosa, who leads a team of six agents at Market Real Estate, which claims to have shepherded about 50 home sales in the San Diego area in 2019.

Rosa said in an interview that he jumped to Side because they offered the cleanest technology platform to cross-post listings. “I think they have the right model to make real estate agents more efficient,” Rosa said.

Gal said that Side’s 2020 plans including expanding further into Texas and Florida (Side opened its first Florida office in November).

It’s an open question whether Side’s business model can translate into a profitable company. Gal said that the company’s current focus is growth. “We can be profitable whenever we choose to be,” he said.