- Today Matterport announced its acquisition of London-based property tech company Virtual Walkthrough.
- Virtual Walkthrough specializes in 360-degree residential and commercial property digital tours, which over time will be replaced by Matterport's 3D dollhouses.
- Matterport announced a series of international expansion efforts in the second quarter of 2016, including business development opportunities in Australia and Canada.
It’s one achievement for a technology product to be popular — and another entirely for it to be scalable.
Matterport is proving that its DIY 3-D virtual tours and equipment can be both with a series of international expansion moves — most recently, its acquisition of London-based property tech company Virtual Walkthrough, announced today.
Virtual Walkthrough specializes in 360-degree residential and commercial property digital tours, which users can navigate with their mouse or finger by maneuvering the tap-and-drag functionality, much like Google Street View. The company also provides floor plans, photographs and real estate video services.
While residential real estate in the U.S. remains its main focus, Matterport has been scanning the horizons for global business growth opportunities.
The company has started with native English-speaking countries — Australia, Canada and now the U.K. — where it can identify players who are already in the real estate technology space, have strong familiarity with the market and whose market position could be improved by Matterport’s offerings, said Matterport CEO Bill Brown.
In this context, Virtual Walkthrough is a “natural fit” in terms of “business focus, philosophy and technology,” Brown noted in the press release announcement, and will be operated as a wholly owned subsidiary.
For now, Virtual Walkthrough will continue business as usual to serve its more than 200 clients. Eventually, the goal is to integrate Matterport’s 3D Spaces in lieu of the 360-degree tours.
“A 3D Space does everything that a 360-degree virtual tool does plus has some additional features,” Brown said. “When we say we’re replacing their technology, their customers will still be able to do everything that they currently do with virtual walkthrough offering, yet we will have a few important things.
“The first is the addition of a dollhouse view … plus accurate measurements within the space, and then the third really important behind-the-scenes piece is that we have automated the capture system; it is much less expensive to capture a 3D space than it is to create a 360 tour.”
Brown said this amounts to hours of labor saved in the content creation process.
Over time, Virtual Walkthrough will also begin to sell the Matterport Pro Camera and Cloud Services and operate as Matterport’s headquarters for European business development.
Matterport’s Senior Vice President of Product Linda Itskovitz relayed that the acquisition came as a win for both parties.
“When the deal was announced to the [Virtual Walkthrough] team, they told me they were super excited,” she said. “Because there were a number of potential clients that they weren’t able to close because they didn’t have the [automated] capture system, and they didn’t have some of the capabilities that we have. So they said, ‘This is awesome, we can go back to these [clients] and give them a richer offering.”
Founding partner and Virtual Walkthrough pioneer James Morris-Manuel will stay onboard in a senior role as EMEA (meaning Europe, the Middle East and Africa) Sales Director and continue contributing to business growth and expansion.
“This ground-breaking agreement is a ringing endorsement of the fast growing U.K. proptech [property tech] scene,” Morris-Manuel said in a press release. “The U.K. property market is fully embracing new virtual technologies, with recent research by Nabarro showing that 81 percent of property professionals believe that virtual reality will change how developments are planned, marketed and leased in the next 10 years.
“Matterport and Virtual Walkthrough together are well-placed to grow globally, becoming a driving force in the proptech community to produce extremely high-quality products and collateral for all clients.”
Last year, Matterport announced a beta virtual reality (VR) program that would allow customers to convert their 3D Spaces for use on the Samsung Gear VR — currently available for $99 — with plans to expand its VR offerings in 2016. The company also recently surpassed 250,000 total 3D Spaces online and 54 million views on those renderings.
Matterport’s other global expansion efforts include its foray into the Australian real estate market through REA Group’s realestate.com.au, the top portal website in Australia, and an appearance at Canada’s largest real estate trade show, both of which occurred in May 2016.
The company is also working with Airbnb, and as a result, some of Airbnb’s online vacation rental listings feature Matterport 3D Spaces, but Brown said the company couldn’t comment further on these activities.
While the acquisition news is big for the companies involved, Brown also sees the mutual agreement as a reflection of consumer preferences toward automated capture, dollhouse views and labeling capabilities.
“It’s notable that one of the biggest 360-tour players decided it was better to be acquired by Matterport and to join us instead of trying to fight us,” he said.
Using data from its Australian portal presence, Matterport says that buyers are 60 percent more likely to email an agent and 95 percent more likely to call an agent if a listing has a Matterport 3D Space featured.
But if there’s one area of Matterport that could use a little more scalability, it’s human resources.
“The market demand for Matterport is substantial. It outstrips how quickly we can build the company based on hiring people, so I think it bodes well for the business,” Brown said.
Matterport is not disclosing the financial terms of the acquisition at this time, he added, and the timing with the British withdrawal from the European Union (Brexit) was purely coincidental.
“We started the discussions well before the Brexit vote, so it was really separate,” Brown said in an email. “We went through on schedule after Brexit. It isn’t clear how that will play out, but will be interesting to see.”