Latch expands tech into offices as it prepares for IPO

Smart lock startup launches pilot in NYC; Empire State Building among properties

Latch CEO Luke Schoenfelder with Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building (Latch, iStock)
Latch CEO Luke Schoenfelder with Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building (Latch, iStock)

Latch is looking to unlock the office market as the startup prepares to go public.

The smart lock maker, whose focus has been in the multifamily space, is launching a pilot program in New York City at three high-profile complexes: the Empire State Building, Brookfield Place, and Rockefeller Center, the company announced.

The move comes as Latch prepares an initial public offering through a special-purpose acquisition company. The proptech firm is planning to merge with Tishman Speyer’s SPAC in a deal that would take Latch public in the second quarter at an expected valuation of $1.5 billion. Tishman owns Rockefeller Center.

Latch said its Visitor Express program cuts lobby wait times and eliminates the need for front desk personnel to intervene. It works by giving building tenants a Latch-generated email address on calendar invites. Visitors then receive a QR code, and using their phone, allows them to pass through entrances to reach specific floors. Latch also allows visitors to bypass the front desk if they have been verified at another Latch building. The company plans to expand into office space across the U.S. later this year, it said.

Latch will roll out its more comprehensive LatchOS platform to office building later this year, which will provide smart access, visitor and delivery management, and sensor control. The company was founded in 2014 and is now in 35 states. It says that one in 10 new apartment buildings in the U.S. are built with Latch products.

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“We have seen our strongest growth ever during the pandemic,” Latch CEO Luke Schoenfelder said, noting the changing work patterns that have emerged.

In 2019, Latch raised $126 million through a Series B funding round, which included investors like Brookfield Ventures and Tishman. At the time, the company was valued at $454 million.

The rollout also comes at a critical time for office markets and landlords across the country, which are still reeling from the effects of the coronavirus. The office availability rate in Manhattan climbed to 16.5 percent in April, the highest it’s ever been. But an increasing number of firms have announced their return to work plans, among them Saks, which will bring corporate employees back to its Brookfield Place headquarters in September. JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs both said they intend to bring back employees to their offices starting in July.