Austin mayor takes on advisory role with proptech unicorn Pacaso

Steve Adler joins five-person board focusing on housing policy.

From left: Steve Adler, mayor of Austin, and Pacaso co-founder and chairman Spencer Rascoff (Getty Images)
From left: Steve Adler, mayor of Austin, and Pacaso co-founder and chairman Spencer Rascoff (Getty Images)

The mayor of Silicon Hills is taking on a role at a firm from Silicon Valley.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, who is presiding over a tech boom in the Texas capital, has joined an advisory board at proptech unicorn Pacaso that will focus on housing policy and community engagement, according to the firm.

Adler will join a group of former and current elected officials in the five-person board. Steve Benjamin, the former mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, has been named as board chair. Other members of the group include current Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Florida State Representative Danny Perez and Former California Secretary of Business, Consumer Service and Housing Alexis Podesta.

Benjamin lauded Pacaso’s business model, which helps multiple buyers purchase partial ownership in second homes. Benjamin claimed in a statement announcing the new board that by facilitating fractional ownership of second homes, Pacaso aids the housing market by “taking pressure off of housing inventory for first-time buyers and middle-class families.”

The formation of the advisory group comes as Pacaso deals with a backlash in its home state of California. The center of resistance against the company is Napa, where homeowners and local officials have mounted an organized opposition. Locals in several wine-country towns have organized into anti-Pacaso groups, giving rise to organizations such as Sonomans Together Opposing Pacaso (STOP) and Neighborhood Opposing Pacaso Encroachment (NOPE).

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The dispute involving the start-up eventually made its way into the courts. In March, the planning commission of the town of St. Helena recommended a ban of the service, expanding a ban on timeshares to cover the firm’s fractional home ownership model. A similar ban is already in place further south in Palm Springs. In response, the company sued the town of St. Helena, claiming that its properties are not timeshares.

The San Francisco-based firm, which was founded by Zillow founder Spencer Rascoff, generated almost $300 million during its first year of operation in 2021. It claims to hold the record for being the fastest American company to reach unicorn status. The firm claims that it reached a $1 billion valuation within six months of launching.

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