2020 Year in Review From Spacelist’s CEO

In a year like no other, companies continue to find ways to drive greater transparency and ease of use in PropTech. 2020 is ending with a lot of acquisitions, which we’re expecting will be a trend throughout 2021. CoStar, Yardi, RealPage, etc., all have significant M&A activity that is sure to spark new opportunities in the space in 2021.

Adoption Improving But Friction Persists
Due to Covid we’ve seen improved adoption of some technology by this very old-school industry, but it’s far from a significant change to how the industry operates. While Zoom helped us ‘see’ each other, a phone call is still sufficient to get a deal done. The underlying friction and pain points are still present, with a lack of standardization and overly complex ‘clunky’ processes that waste time for landlords/brokers, and create a poor experience for tenants. Virtual tours are semi-convenient and the technology is becoming cheaper and easier to deploy, but they only offer a small improvement to the overall marketing process, with most of the time-consuming elements still present.

If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It…Improve It!
While there has been great progress (and great cost) with solutions for managing large real estate portfolios, the majority of the commercial real estate industry is still running on spreadsheets and notepads. While the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” technically applies, as this industry doesn’t need to be fixed, it definitely needs to be made more efficient. This industry is experiencing a generational ‘hand-off’ that we’re expecting to encourage technology to be adopted not to change what is being done, but how it’s getting done.

Can Airbnb’s Model Work for Commercial?
We don’t think so…but maybe a variant of it can. Just as Airbnb took years to get adoption from higher-end homeowners, there’s a level of trust and confidence in technology that needs to be gained over time. This same trust needs to be achieved in CRE to leverage the efficiencies that can be gained from technology. We believe there will always be a role for the broker, and a lot of the delays and time-consuming elements of leasing will be streamlined by a more standardized and structured process.

What’s Next? KISS…
We’re firm believers in the KISS principle (‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’) and see early adopters in the industry attracted to solutions that are easier to set up, implement, and actually realize benefits. Interested in learning more about what we’re working on? Check out our latest venture SimpleLease.

Happy holidays and have a wonderful new year!

Steven Jaffe
CEO, Spacelist