Real estate tech startup Place raises $100M led by Goldman Sachs; reaches unicorn status at over $1 billion valuation
With the saturated real estate market, this new startup is aiming to revolutionize the $156.2 billion real estate sales and brokerage industry and innovate its way to the top. Place is a new prop-tech startup and provider of business services platform for real estate agents.
The startup was founded just last year by Ben Kinney and Chris Suarez to take care of tasks like accounting, hiring, training and digital advertising. The new Place.com platform helps real estate professionals and their staff eliminate up to 75% of their daily tasks so that they have more time to help buyers buy and sellers sell. Having built one of the best-in-industry CRM, Place.com eliminates the need for multiple technology platforms.
This week, Place announced its first external funding since its inception: a $100 million Series A round led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management with participation from 3L Capital. The latest funding now values the one-year-old company at over $1 billion, making it a member of the unicorn club.
Place will use the new capital infusion to support the continued expansion of PLACE’s products and services, accelerate the onboarding of thousands of top real estate teams, and support continued investment in PLACE’s technology.
In an interview with GeekWire, Place co-founder Ben Kinney, a serial entrepreneur and real estate agent, said: “We don’t have a press department. We don’t have a marketing department. We’ve only had one sales rep for the last two years. We’ve just been hiding in Bellingham, Washington, doing our stuff.”
With millions in war chest, Place also disclosed that the company spent $3 million to acquire the Place.com domain name, in what Kinney described as an important step in the company’s ambitions to build a consumer brand in support of the agents that use its technology and services.
Place offers what it describes as “an end-to-end suite of software solutions and business services that include administrative support, marketing and branding, lead generation, accounting, legal, Human Resources, back-office infrastructure, and training for all positions.”
Commenting on the funding, Place co-founder Chris Suarez said, “This Goldman Sachs-led round of financing will allow for the continued expansion of the PLACE platform as well as the services needed by agents and teams to stay ahead of the ever-changing demands of the real estate consumer.”
Place currently has about 300 employees, about half of them in Western Washington, either working remotely or in its Bellingham offices. Kinney said the company plans to dramatically increase headcount in the years ahead, Kinney said. Kenny also added that Place will ultimately establish a presence in the Seattle market to help boost its recruiting.
“We were attracted to Place by its battle-tested technology and leadership team that has dedicated their careers toward helping high-performing agents and teams succeed,” said Paul Pate, Vice President, Goldman Sachs Asset Management. “Ultimately, the performance of Place’s operators speaks for itself.”
“This model of bundled business services is long overdue in the industry. Top producers are eager to expand their focus from transactions alone to running scalable and profitable businesses that provide tremendous value and expertise to their consumers,” said Chris Stuart, President, PLACE.
Before launching Place, Ben founded the Ben Kinney Companies, which include a diverse group of real estate software, coaching, and training companies, plus mortgage, title, escrow, and multiple real estate brokerage locations throughout the United States and the United Kingdom. Kinney also acquired ActiveRain, a social network for real estate agents, from Zillow in 2015 as part of a larger rollup of real estate ventures under the Ben Kinney Companies umbrella.
According to the information on the company’s website, three of Kinney’s companies were ranked in the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in America, and he has personally trained over 100,000 business owners via conferences, classes, and webinars. In total, Ben leads more than 1,500 agents and 100+ tech company employees.