National Association of Realtors sells ownership stake in Ifbyphone

Members will still receive discount on ad lead tracking tool

The National Association of Realtors has sold its entire ownership stake in cloud-based call tracking and routing services provider Ifbyphone Inc. for a tidy profit.

In December 2010, NAR purchased a 14.3 percent ownership interest in the company through its venture capital fund, Second Century Ventures, for $2 million, according to a report from NAR’s finance committee released at the trade group’s midyear conference in May.

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At the time, NAR said it planned to collaborate with the company to develop solutions to help Realtors manage, measure and automate voice communications and thereby help them get the most out of their marketing and advertising dollars to generate increased sales.

NAR’s stake in Ifbyphone later decreased to 11.5 percent, partially as a result of dilution as the company raised additional money from outside investors. On Dec. 31, 2013, Second Century Ventures sold its entire ownership stake in the company for $3.2 million, gaining $1.2 million in profit.

Constance Freedman, NAR’s vice president of strategic investments, said the sale made sense because of the opportunity for SCV to realize a profit and because Ifbyphone was becoming less centered on real estate.

“The company is doing very well and they raised a new round of funding to continue expanding its growth and a lot of their new growth strategy largely did not include real estate. We decided … our capital was best used toward more real estate focused-technologies,” she said.

She was quick to add, however, that Ifbyphone continues to serve real estate professionals. NAR also still has a Realtor benefits agreement with the company to offer a special discount to NAR members for Ifbyphone Inquire, a product developed in partnership with NAR that allows agents to track which ads generate phone and email leads and respond to them instantly.

Steve Griffiths, Ifbyphone’s vice president of marketing and product strategy, said the company continues to focus on the real estate industry as one of its key segments.

“We have hundreds of customers in the industry, raging from individual agents to brokers to large partners,” he said.

“SCV’s decision to sell their stake was an internal decision independent of our corporate strategy.”

He declined to say who purchased SCV’s stake in the company, saying the terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In a transaction Griffiths said was separate from the SCV sale, Ifbyphone raised an additional $9 million in venture capital funding in December, bringing its total to over $30 million. The funding round was lead by River Cities Capital Funds with participation from existing investors Apex Venture Partners, Origin Ventures and I2A, and a new investor, SSM Partners.

SCV currently holds investments in e-signature and transaction management provider DocuSign and data management firm Symform. Earlier this year, the venture capital fund sold 104,057 shares of DocuSign preferred stock to DocuSign for $1.37 million, reducing SCV’s ownership stake to 4.5 percent. In 2013, SCV’s ownership interest in Symform stood at 8.7 percent.


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