New SPAC to target real estate startups

A new blank check company is entering the SPAC space, setting its sights on financial software startups focused on mortgage and real estate. Southport Acquisition Corp. priced an initial public offering on Friday. Inman reported the company is offering 20 million units at $10 each, hoping to raise more than $234 million; that’s dependent on BofA Securities exercising a 45-day option to purchase an additional 3 million units. An investor prospectus from Southport reveals more

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Better.com CEO “taking time off” after layoff saga

After a week of controversy, Better.com appears to have decided it’s better off without its embattled CEO — at least, temporarily. The digital mortgage company’s board of directors said in an email Friday morning that Vishal Garg was “taking time off effective immediately,” according to a copy obtained by Vice. During his leave, CFO Kevin Ryan is assuming day-to-day operations. In the email, the board called recent events “very regrettable” and said an independent third

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Better.com CEO apologizes for botching layoffs, anonymously leaking video

Mortgage originator Better.com CEO Vishal Garg has apologized for his handling of recent layoffs by the company, in which he announced the firing of more than 900 employees over Zoom, accused them of being unproductive and then anonymously leaking video of the rant. Days after video of the Zoom call showed the chief executive announcing the layoffs and accusing some staff of stealing from the company by wasting time, Garg said in a leaked email

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Proptech unicorn Pacaso’s meteoric rise — and fallout

Good fences make good neighbors — unless your neighbor is an LLC and their house is a party palace. Yael Bernier of Healdsburg, California, an idyllic outpost in Sonoma Valley, remembers one of the town’s first brushes with Pacaso, the startup that sells shares of upscale houses to aspirational second-home owners, last spring. One of the eight co-owners of a local Pacaso-sponsored property had just arrived from out of town, but the hot tub didn’t

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Newest unicorn is property-services startup Lessen

A historic year for proptech fundraising has produced another unicorn. Lessen, a real estate management platform that connects property owners and operators to electricians, cleaners and other service providers, raised $170 million in a Series B round, pushing its total funding so far to $214 million — nearly quadruple its previous fundraising — and valuing the two-and-a-half year-old company at more than $1 billion. Proptech venture capital firm Fifth Wall, which led Lessen’s $35 million

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Home improvement startup Block Renovation taking platform national

Block Renovation, a startup that wants to make home makeovers more predictable and less painful, is taking its New York-tested platform national. Just four months after its last fundraise, Block raised $50 million in a Series C round led by Softbank’s Vision Fund 2, with participation from existing investors Giant Ventures, NEA, Morningside and Lerer Hippeau. The raise brings the startup’s total funding to $104 million. Block’s Series C comes amid a national housing boom

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CRE data crowdsourcer CompStak raises $50M

CompStak, which pioneered a crowdsourced approach to commercial real estate data as part of the first wave of startups in what is now known as “proptech,” has raised $50 million in a new fundraising round, the firm told The Real Deal. Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, the investment giant’s late-stage venture arm, led the Series C round, with participation from Mitsui Fudosan and Crow Holdings, which invests the fortune of the late real estate development giant

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Startup GetCovered aiming to be “Shopify of insurance” for carriers, agencies

Insurance technology companies like Lemonade have made inroads on the traditional real estate insurance market over the last five years by providing simple, low-cost access. Now, a fledgling proptech startup is helping legacy carriers and agencies compete. GetCovered, a New York and Los Angeles-based firm launched in 2018, raised $7 million in a Series A round with the lofty ambition to become the “Shopify of insurance” for legacy carriers and agencies — a one-stop shop

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Commission advance startup backed by Serhant launches in South Florida

RLTY Capital, a fintech commission advance startup backed by Ryan Serhant, is expanding to South Florida, The Real Deal has learned. The New York-based firm, led by co-founder and CEO Briggs Elwell and co-founder Daniel Kennedy, is backed by Serhant’s brokerage, as well as by Related Companies Senior Vice President Chris Schmidt and Elegran CEO Michael Rossi. The company launched in New York City earlier this year and plans to operate across the country. Like

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VTS to buy office-app developer for $200M

Proptech unicorn VTS remains committed to the revival of office life, set to make another big acquisition in the office app space. The New York-based software and data firm is set to acquire Toronto-based Lane Technologies for $200 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. With the deal, the company is set to combine Lane and VTS Rise into the world’s largest office-app firm. The deal marks one of the largest in the history of

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