Venice’s fledgling venture capital firm Fifth Wall Ventures announced Tuesday its first fund closed with $212 million in capital contributions.
Fifth Wall was co-founded by Brendan Wallace and Brad Greiwe last year and is focused on early-stage technology companies in the real estate space, according to the pair. In addition to taking money from traditional institutional investors, Wallace and Greiwe garnered investment from a handful of high-profile real estate owners and operators including brokerage CBRE Group Inc. and mall owner Macerich Co.
These strategic fund investors committed at least $15 million in capital each and agreed to dedicate an internal point person to act as a liaison to Fifth Wall. The firm’s idea is to not only sink money into promising real estate tech startups, but also to create partnerships between the fund investors and the investee companies, Wallace said.
“We have a very top-down strategy where we figure out what our corporate LPs’ pain points are, what they need, and then we go out and look to make an investment in a real estate technology company that addresses that need,” Wallace said. “At the same time, we’re also looking to create structured commercial partnerships between LPs and companies we invest in.”
Those partnerships will vary, but an early example is Fifth Wall’s participation in last September’s $7 million Series A round for B8ta, which brings tech gadgets available through the web into a physical store where customers can discover and play with them. In addition to the Series A money, B8ta walked away with a partnership to expand its physical presence in Macerich mall properties, including an outpost at Santa Monica Place.
Wallace and Greiwe said this type of value-add connection is integral to Fifth Wall’s investment strategy, but that the overarching reason they started the firm was simple.
“We couldn’t find any dedicated venture funds focused on real estate technology,” Wallace said. “Real estate is 14 percent of the U.S. economy’s (gross domestic product), but despite the industry’s size, it’s a late adopter of technology. There’s a lot of inefficiency in the industry still and a lot of companies early in the innovation cycle that can produce an enormous amount of value.”
Deals & Dealmakers reporter Henry Meier can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @henry_meier.