Avenue 8 to shut down brokerage operations, turn to AI app

SF-based firm plans to focus on Sidekick, a tech tool for residential agents

Avenue 8 to Shut Down Brokerage Operations to Sell AI App
Avenue 8 co-founder Michael Martin (Avenue 8/Instagram)

Avenue 8 is shutting down its brokerage operations. 

Instead, the San Francisco-based brokerage will shift its focus to selling an artificial intelligence-powered assistant for real estate agents, a tool called Sidekick, according to an announcement on Monday. 

“In order to capture the moment, we wanted to put all our resources into it,” Michael Martin, Avenue 8’s co-CEO and co-founder, told TRD

The firm will support all of its agents’ transactions through July, according to Martin.

The firm currently has 164 agents affiliated with its operations, plus nine brokers, according to the California Department of Real Estate. Avenue 8 also has branches in Santa Monica and Palm Springs. 

Avenue 8 will sell Sidekick, currently an app, on a subscription basis for $25 a month. It allows agents to sift through listings on the MLS, develop spreadsheets and generate listing descriptions from photos. 

Ideally, it can do everything an assistant working at a brokerage can do — send clients calendar links for showings, develop comps presentations, pull up listings within a specific area and more. 

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“For newer agents, it’s a good way to punch above your weight,” Martin said. “For seasoned agents, it’ll save them a lot of time.” 

The firm has already partnered with the San Francisco Association of Realtors, the Miami Association of Realtors and Broward, Palm Beaches & St. Lucie Realtors to access their respective multiple listing services. 

Before Avenue 8 made the decision to pivot solely to Sidekick, the firm scored new funding from Cox Enterprises a few weeks ago, according to Justin Fichelson, a co-founder of Avenue 8.

Avenue 8 was founded in 2019; within its first year, it boasted $600 million in home sales across California. Two years later, on the heels of a $14 million fundraise, the firm planned a big expansion into New York City by offering high commission splits and low overhead costs to agents. 

It planned to hire about 1,000 agents in New York as part of the expansion. But the gutsy plans never panned out. 

The brokerage currently has 20 agents and six brokers, according to New York State records. 

Avenue 8 isn’t the only brokerage that has introduced an AI-powered assistant, though it’s the first to shift towards the tool and away from the business of brokerage altogether. 

In September, Fredrik Eklund and John Gomes at Douglas Elliman launched Maya, an AI assistant. On Eklund-Gomes’ website, users can type questions into a chat box and Maya will provide an answer, using data from the team’s listings. Users can also rate her responses with a thumbs up or thumbs down.

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