Compass nabs $450 million

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Compass nabs $450 million in largest real estate tech investment in U.S. history

Japanese firm SoftBank is betting big on the white hot real estate tech company

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Humongous breaking news this morning for Compass, the white-hot real estate tech company: it just received a $450 million investment from SoftBank Vision Fund, the collaborative tech investment vehicle started by Japanese company Softbank and a host of big international players.

The $450 million investment in Compass marks the largest private real estate tech investment in U.S. history, according to Compass, and follows on the heels of a $100 million investment from other funders last month, which valued the company at $1.8 billion.

Collectively, Compass has raised $775 million in capital, money that will assist in its bid to expand across 10 new metropolitan markets within the next two years.

The are eye-popping figures for a company that launched in New York in 2013 (under the name “Urban Compass”) and was initially focused on rental units in the city only, but has since expanded to a sales focus and into over 10 markets nationwide. Compass Chief Revenue Officer Robert Lehman told Inman in a phone interview that the company would potentially acquire small brokerages to bring in new talent, similar to Compass’s recent expansion to Chicago, where it hired 20 agents from the area away from established franchises Coldwell Banker and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.

In an announcement last month, Compass CEO Robert Reffkin told brokers and other employees that the New York-based company aimed to grab 20 percent of the market share in the 20 largest U.S. cities by 2020 (a plan known internally as “2020 By 2020”), and would be developing its own Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software platform and high-tech, solar powered “For Sale” signage.

This morning on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Reffkin announced Compass’s expansion to San Diego and compared the company to Amazon and Tesla:

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Compass touts itself as “the first modern real estate platform, which reduces the friction and frustration associated with selling, buying, or renting a property by providing real estate agents with a set of powerful tools to increase efficiency and sales volume.” But industry sources say that the company’s success has lots to do with its image, culture, and marketing, which position the company as a young, vibrant, Google-like startup, in a sector filled with many longstanding and slower-moving giants.

“Real estate is a huge asset class, but the sector has been relatively untouched by technology and remains inefficient and fragmented,” said Justin Wilson, a senior investment professional at the SoftBank Vision Fund, in a prepared statement released Thursday. “Compass is building a differentiated, end-to-end platform that aggregates across diverse data streams to support agents and homebuyers through the entire process, well beyond the initial home search. With disruptive technology and unique data advantages, Compass is well-positioned for future growth in a sector that represents trillions in transaction volume.”

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Tech Hill Commons

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Hey Entrepreneurs: Tech Hill Commons Wants to Bring Your Ideas to Life

By Chris Blondell

Everything’s coming up Nashville. That would certainly seem to be the case if you talked to Brian Moyer of The Nashville Technology Council. Moyer is the President and CEO of the NTC and a serial entrepreneur and technologist.

“Technology has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Prior to taking the role as CEO, I was a founding member of the NTC and also served on the board of directors for two years. I still look to learn something new every day and enjoy helping others achieve their goals. I’m excited for this opportunity to represent Nashville’s technology industry.”

Brian Moyer.

The Nashville Technology Council is described on their site as a “catalyst for the growth and influence of Middle Tennessee’s technology industry.” By investing directly into Nashville’s vibrant community, the NTC is looking to become a national leader in technology-based innovation and development. So, if it’s stepping towards the future, Moyer and the NTC want to be a part of it.

We all know that Nashville is quickly becoming a beacon for anything technology related. In recent years it’s seen a boom in technological investment, and has had its own share of successes in the industry with a lot of promise for the future.

“It’s a very exciting time to live in Nashville. We have an enticing creative culture with a low cost of living, which has led to more people wanting to be here. Over the past ten years, on average Nashville has added 39 more jobs a day, ranking 16th of the top 20 US cities.

“We have a diverse economy made up of a number of industries including healthcare, entertainment, hospitality, manufacturing, and distribution. The demand for those in the field of technology is high. Not only is our tech industry growing, but the demand for “tech occupations” across all our industries is growing.”

Sounds like the place to be if you’re a tech entrepreneur, right? It only gets better.

In a major step forward, the NTC and Comcast have decided to partner on an innovative new facility called Tech Hill Commons, and it will be the tech council’s brand new home.

The innovation hub's floor plan. Image: Tech Hill Commons.

“We saw the need for a space that would not only house our corporate offices but also provide opportunities for connecting and supporting the Nashville tech community. Our board agreed. About that same time, Comcast approached us to say they had partnered on similar spaces in other key markets around the country. Planning and a search for space began.

“We were fortunate to find the perfect location in an area of Nashville that the Mayor has dubbed ‘Tech Hill.’ It’s easily accessible with plenty of parking and only minutes from downtown Nashville. We are taking over the entire lobby level floor, approximately 9,500 square feet. Tech Hill Commons will be leveraged to help in our mission and realization of our vision.”

In other words, if you’re a tech-minded entrepreneur, Tech Hill Commons is the place to be. While cities like San Francisco, Silicon Valley, even New York, have spaces where tech-minded folks can flock to in order to perfect their trade. When out-of-staters think of Nashville, what typically pops into their heads is country music and hot chicken. Moyer, the NTC, and Comcast are working very hard to change that with Tech Hill Commons.

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Image: Tech Hill Commons

But how will this work? How and why should people use this space? Moyer says, “One of our key roles is to serve as collaborators. Bringing together like-minded groups and individuals to solve issues and strengthen our tech community. Having our own space to facilitate those discussions will be a great benefit.

“Through our learning center, we are also focused on training the next generation of technology workers. We envision Tech Hill Commons as a place where members of our tech community can gather to work, collaborate, and connect.”

Why go it alone when you can have direct access to all the people you need? Forget working from your basement, or renting office space. Tech Hill Commons is here to be taken advantage of. It would be the central hub for, say, launch events, hackathons, Mac-a-thons, you name it. If it’s related to technology and if you can collaborate on it, Tech Hill Commons is the space for you.

So, where does Comcast fit in? For one, Comcast has been on the front lines of innovation, investing in anything that has to do with stepping into the future. “Aside from financial support and in-kind technology services, Comcast has provided specialists to help with space planning and negotiating furnishing. I can say with certainty that we would not have been able to make this happen without the incredible support we have received from them. Everyone on their team has been outstanding to work with.”

If ever there was an example of what a good partnership can accomplish, NTC and Comcast’s collaboration on Tech Hill Commons is it.

Nashville has steadily been on the rise in the past few years. It’s been known as a home base for country music, and that will never change, but soon it will be known for more than just honky tonk. Nashville will be known for innovation, for technology, for the entrepreneurial spirit. Nashville won’t just be Music City, it’ll be a place where ideas are fostered.

Everything’s coming up Nashville, and Brian Moyer, the NTC, and Comcast are on the front lines.

Reimagining the historic Gray & Dudley Building

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Reimagining the historic Gray & Dudley Building near Printer’s Alley in downtown Nashville

OPENING SPRING 2017

21c Museum Hotel Nashville
221 2nd Avenue North
Nashville, Tennessee 37201

Phone- 615.610.6400
Toll Free- 844.577.5542

Like all of our properties, 21c Nashville is woven into the fabric of downtown, welcoming both visitors and locals to enjoy the curated exhibitions, cultural programming and culinary offerings, led by executive chef Levon Wallace.

  • 124 Rooms, including 14 Suites
  • Over 10,500 square feet of exhibition and event space
  • Gray & Dudley restaurant + bar led by executive chef Levon Wallace
  • Rooftop Suites with outdoor terraces
  • 24-Hour Fitness center
  • Spa featuring couples treatments rooms with en-suite steam showers
  • Business center
  • Valet parking
  • Designed by Deborah Berke Partners
  • Free Wi-Fi
Museum

21c Museum Hotel Nashville brings more than 10,500 square feet of new contemporary art-filled exhibition, meeting and event space to downtown Nashville.

A multi-venue museum, each 21c property features exhibition space open free of charge to the public, combined with a boutique hotel and chef-driven restaurant. 21c presents a range of arts programming curated by Museum Director, Chief Curator Alice Gray Stites, including both solo and group exhibitions that reflect the global nature of art today, as well as site-specific, commissioned installations, and a variety of cultural events. Learn more about the Museum.

Rooms

The Gray & Dudley Building was constructed in 1900, a time when the city of Nashville was booming – much like it is today.

The 124 guest rooms and suites at 21c Nashville will provide a welcomed sanctuary from the art and activity that fills the galleries and vibrant spaces in and surrounding our property in the heart of downtown Nashville. Designed by Deborah Berke Partners, the guest rooms have wood floors and high ceilings, contemporary furnishings, large windows and luxurious floor to ceiling drapery.  We hope the comfortable beds and thoughtful touches, such as plush robes and Malin + Goetz bath amenities, leave you feeling restored and ready to explore.

Deluxe Double Queen

Deluxe King

Deluxe Suite

Luxury Double Queen

Luxury King

Luxury Suite

Terrace King

Terrace Suite

21c Suite

Photos+Videos
Private Events

21c Museum Hotel Nashville brings over 10,500 square feet of art-filled exhibition and event space to downtown Nashville.

21c Nashville features a wide range of gallery spaces – all featuring the work of today’s artists and many with cutting edge audiovisual technology – making it a unique venue for board retreats, executive meetings, cocktail gatherings, reception dinners, charitable events, weddings and many other special occasions. The restaurant at 21c Nashville, Gray & Dudley led by executive chef Levon Wallace, will provide catering and beverage service for events at 21c Nashville.

Here’s Sen. Corker’s advice for businesses that want to be heard in Washington

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With the arrival of President Donald Trump’s administration, the nation’s political pendulum has swung, and for Tennessee businesses, that means navigating the nation’s capital could be a bit different.

Accordingly, I asked U.S. Senator Bob Corker what advice he had for businesses looking to make their voices heard more loudly in Washington, D.C. Here’s what he said:

We’ve got the [National Federation of Independent Business] and Business Roundtable for the big businesses. They’re pretty well represented, and they’re up seeing us constantly. When I was in business, I was a member of the Associated General Contractors, so I would just say be a participant in the organization that represents you and make sure that it’s vibrant. That’s the best way you can make sure people understand what’s happening, but look, I see so many Tennesseans and people know I have a business background, so I hear from people at the grocery store, dry cleaners and restaurants, so I feel like I’ve got plenty of input.

The senator was in Nashville Monday to give a wide-ranging presentation to employees and clients of the city’s largest homegrown lender, Pinnacle Financial Partners. During his 45-minute presentation, Corker covered everything from his time being vetted to potentially become Trump’s secretary of state to what he knows of the president’s highly-anticipated corporate tax reform policy, which is slated to be unveiled Wednesday. (Spoiler: He knows nothing, but is having a one-on-one dinner with the president on Tuesday.)

Overall, Corker said the most common concerns he hears from Tennessee business leaders can be boiled down to one thing: regulation.

“[Business owners] feel like it’s been very burdensome, and whether it’s in the financial industry with Dodd-Frank or just the standard things that businesses deal with on a daily basis, I do think we’re going to go through a period of deregulation that’s going to be good for our economy, and I think that’s exciting to most businesses,” he said in an interview with the Nashville Business Journal.

And as far as keeping Tennessee competitive on a national level, Corker pointed to the state’s low tax rate as well as Gov. Haslam’s recently passed Tennessee Reconnect, which provides two years of community college or a college of applied technology free of tuition and fees for adults — essentially an expansion of 2014’s Tennessee Promise, which offered the same benefits to graduating high school students.

“Many [businesses] have difficulties finding the appropriately trained person for the appropriate job. That’s a difficult thing, and our state is taking a lot of steps to overcome that with some of the educational programs we’re doing here. … Those things all bode well for our recruiting,” he said.

Meg Garner covers banking, government and law.

2017 Largest Nashville Residential Firms

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What are the largest residential real estate firms in Nashville?

We ranked Nashville’s residential real estate firms by number of company sides on a transaction in 2016. To view the top five and see which one tops the list, check out the slideshow with this story.

For the rest of Nashville’s top residential real estate firms, take a look at this week’s print edition of the Nashville Business Journal. The full list is available in print and includes information about 2016 gross sales, average sales price, number of agents and offices and top local executive.

An interactive and expanded digital version of The List is on our website here, and includes extra content, including the year founded.

For a piece of our residential real estate package that accompanied The List in print, check out the infographic at the bottom of the article.

Want more research like this? Check out the Book of Lists in print or in data download.


Information was obtained from firm representatives. Information on The List was supplied by individual companies through questionnaires and could not be independently verified by the Nashville Business Journal. Only those that responded to our inquiries were listed. In case of ties, companies are listed alphabetically. The Nashville area is defined as: Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Montgomery, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties.

Germantown Nashville New Restaurants

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Near the corner of Jefferson Street and Fourth Avenue North, amid Nashville’s booming Germantown and just a block from First Tennessee Park, sit two soon-to-open restaurants whose journey underscores the occasionally herculean effort required to bring restaurants from concept to reality in Music City’s white-hot food scene.

They are Lulu and Geist, the latest restaurants from Miranda Whitcomb Pontes, a restaurateur who made her name founding Frothy Monkey and Burger Up, among other Nashville hotspots. With Lulu set to open this month and Geist “probably three months out,” Pontes is emerging from the lengthy permitting process, construction delays and other bumps in the road that restaurateurs throughout Nashville encounter amid the city’s boom.

It’s just “the nature of Nashville,” right now, Pontes said. In addition to the standard challenges (like the time it takes to schedule inspections), the historic building housing Geist brought with it additional requirements of preservation, she said, which helps explain the multi-year lag between the lease getting signed and its eventual opening.

As for Lulu, on top of the traditional delays, Pontes has made several changes to the concept since she confirmed plans for the spot in September 2015. Initially envisioned as a full-service restaurant, Lulu will instead embrace a fast-casual model. Pontes just recently decided to change things up in yet another way, moving food preparation from the back of the house to the area behind the bar, in full view of patrons.

“I was uncomfortable for a while because I get really emotionally attached to the concept … which is a terrible thing to be in business,” Pontes said of the decision to rearrange things. “Now I see, even though [the layout change] probably put us more weeks behind and more over budget, it’s really healthy for the long-term, for success.”

Both the rejiggered restaurant design — something the restaurateur hopes will embody “the energy” she wants the fresh-focused eatery to have — and the shift from full-service to fast-casual came at the advice of peers and mentors whose opinion she trusts, Pontes said.

Dropping the full-service model was a hard choice, she said, because she wanted to ensure the restaurant offered a spirit of hospitality that doesn’t end once the customer swipes a credit card. At the same time, she knows people want to have the speed and convenience that format can provide. Her goal? Be sure to marry the two.

“I’m willing to entertain the fast casual, if you can guarantee that we’re going to have enhanced hospitality until they walk out the door,” Pontes said. “It’s going to feel like a full-service restaurant after you swipe your card, or I’m not interested.”

Eleanor Kennedy covers Music City’s tourism, hospitality and music business industries.

Lessons from Successful Retailers

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Wharton’s Marshall Fisher discusses why retailers must break their ‘addiction’ to top-line growth.

Successful retailers can grow quickly in their early years simply by opening new stores. But eventually they run out of real estate, and then they need the discipline to stop opening new stores and focus instead on driving more sales through their existing stores. They can boost sales and profits dramatically by making changes in the way they run their existing stores, such as with help from analytics and the use of technology.

In fact, several such small changes brought in profits that helped 17 retailers outperform the stock performance of the S&P 500 index, according to a new study titled “Curing the Addiction to Growth” published in the Harvard Business Review by Marshall Fisher, Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions, along with his co-authors, Vishal Gaur (who has a PhD from the Wharton School and now is a professor at Cornell’s Johnson School) and Herb Kleinberger (who has an MBA from Wharton and for many years led PWC’s retail practice).

The study covered a 22-year period, ending in 2015, at 37 companies. This group began the 22-year period with double digit top-line growth, which inevitably slowed to the low single digits during 2011-2015 as the retailers reached the maturity stage of their life cycle. Some winners, such as footwear retailer Foot Locker, saw their stock market returns grow 33% a year over this period, or nearly triple the S&P 500 average. Others that witnessed handsome stock market gains include Home Depot and McDonald’s.

The lesson for the laggards is to pause, acknowledge the slowing growth, and look for solutions other than opening new stores. Fisher says retailers, as they mature, must break their “addiction” to top-line growth and adjust their strategies to the changed realities. He sees that maxim play out also with companies outside the retail industry. That approach could apply even to countries as they shift gears, he says, citing China’s efforts to move away from low-end contract manufacturing for the rest of the world to building its own brands for its domestic market.

Listen to the Podcast – http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/how-retailers-can-cope-slowing-growth/