CEO of faded office brokerage SquareFoot jumps to JLL

Michael Colacino says he had to “give up” on tech-centric startup

As CRE Brokerage SquareFoot Scales Back, CEO Jumps to JLL
JLL's Michael Colacino (Getty, Michael Colacino)

The one-time head of tech-centric commercial real estate brokerage SquareFoot has moved on to JLL, as the former has scaled back to “online lead generation.”

JLL hired Michael Colacino to lead its tri-state team, the Commercial Observer reported. He started at the company last week, leading brokerage and consulting services for the tri-state area and working out of the company’s Manhattan office.

Colacino has lived many lives in commercial real estate, starting at Savills in 1991, eventually serving as its president until 2018, when he started proptech investment firm Haiku Partners. A year later, he became the first president of SquareFoot, an office leasing brokerage that promised transparency.

Colacino’s move to JLL revealed troubling news about SquareFoot, based on his comments to the Observer. His work started to wane when the pandemic hit, he told the publication, and New York-based SquareFoot began “winding down brokerage operations” in favor of online lead generation.

“It’s not easy for me to give up, so I fought hard to try to keep the company going forward, but eventually I wasn’t able to do that,” Colacino told the Observer.

Colacino did not respond to a request for comment from The Real Deal. “SquareFoot remains in business and our focus is on online lead generation,” the company’s vice president of growth, Neil Lanman, told TRD.

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In 2018, SquareFoot raised $7 million in a Series A funding round led by Rosecliff Ventures. The startup aspired to make office space searches more transparent by combining traditional brokerage with an online platform. The firm arranged about 100 leases in 2017 and planned to grow that volume and expand beyond New York City.

The company seemed to be on the rise in 2021 — despite the pandemic’s impact on office leasing — when it announced the acquisition of Upsuite, a co-working company. The purchase came shortly after SquareFoot expanded into Los Angeles and Houston.

As of last September, the company had 60 employees and had raised more than $36 million, according to PitchBook.

On his LinkedIn page, Colacino describes SquareFoot as “a fast-growing platform.” He listed his end date at the company as February 2023. The company is now led by co-founder Jonathan Wasserstrum, himself a JLL alumnus.

Holden Walter-Warner

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