The National Association of Realtors is making a big bet on moving app Updater.
Updater has secured an additional $20 million in equity funding, led by NAR’s venture capital arm and wholly-owned subsidiary, Second Century Ventures. With this round, Updater also took on $75 million in debt.
Updater helps homebuyers tackle moving-related tasks such as hiring a moving company, forwarding mail, changing utilities and connecting their TV and internet service. Real estate agents can pay $149 per year to offer a branded version of the app to their clients.
The companies declined to disclose terms of the investment. This latest round brings Updater’s total funding to about $200 million, about $125 million of which is equity and about $75 million of which is debt, according to the company.
This is the second time NAR has invested in Updater. In 2014, Updater closed an $8 million funding round in which SCV contributed $1.97 million, representing an 8.7 percent stake in the startup. Updater was one of seven companies in the inaugural 2013 class of REACH, NAR’s tech incubator.
“SCV has made successive investments in multiple companies after their participation in the REACH program,” Tyler Thompson, managing partner of SCV, told Inman in a statement. “SCV routinely evaluates companies’ progress during and after participation in the program.”
“We look for confidence in both market opportunity and a company’s ability to achieve their growth targets along with a strong relationship with their management team to ensure a shared focus on innovation in the real estate tech.”
According to NAR’s May 2019 Finance Committee report, “SCV’s investment interest in DocuSign and Updater account for a substantial portion of the Association’s total investments.” The report goes on to say that at the end of December 2018, Updater accounted for about 5.6 percent of NAR’s total investments.
With this second infusion of capital, that share has likely increased, perhaps substantially, but SCV declined to disclose the current share.
Updater, formerly a public company on the Australian Securities Exchange, delisted from the ASX in 2018 in order to secure funding and a higher valuation in the private market. The company’s valuation was $650 million at the time it announced its intention to delist in August 2018, according to Australia’s Financial Review news outlet. The latest funding round gives Updater an implied valuation of $756 million, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Updater provides Realtors and real estate brokerages a strategic way to enhance their client experience and drive value at an incredibly stressful time for consumers,” David Greenberg, Updater’s founder and CEO, told Inman in an emailed statement.
“Offering home and move-related services to clients can be an extremely heavy lift. We’ve formed partnerships with thousands of products and service providers nationwide, integrated digital transfer and purchase workflows into our app, and delivered a frictionless experience to the consumer in a helpful manner.
“Therefore, Updater provides brokerages a turnkey way to grow their business and offer value-add services, with the simple flip of a switch. Updater integrates with most of the widely-used real estate transaction management and CRM systems in order to make the launch process as smooth as possible.”
Updater said it plans to use the additional funds “to support aggressive growth initiatives.” Asked to elaborate, Greenberg said Updater intends to use the money “to build additional instant comparison, booking, and purchasing experiences for users. Moving is one of the only times in life where you need to connect to dozens of businesses at one time; we started Updater years ago to ensure that those tasks can be handled in one place.”
The company’s plans, according to Greenberg, include:
- Increased transparency for pricing, installation availability, and discounts across television, internet, and utility packages.
- Seamless booking and scheduling for home security plans, home cleanings, and handyman services.
- Personalized move-flows (algorithms that anticipate what a user needs, based on unique move criteria)
- Expand and simplify integrations with real estate transaction management platforms and CRMs.
- Expand ability to keep brokerages and agents in front of consumers post-move, in an effort to increase repeat and referral business.
On Dec. 18, Updater acquired Bridgevine, a company that described itself as the “home of customer acquisition,” for $75 million. Greenberg told Inman that further integrating Updater with Bridgevine’s API will allow Updater users to “receive increased transparency over the pricing, availability, and scheduling of various home subscription products, including television, internet, phone, utilities, home security, home warranty, and more.”
The company also hopes the acquisition will allow it to “expand app access to those who are moving outside of our traditional channels — brokerages, property management, mortgage, etc.” Greenberg said.
“By combining forces, we expect Updater to be leveraged by approximately 50 percent of all U.S. households moving in 2020,” he added. That will be a “sizable jump” because that figure was less than 30 percent in 2019, Updater told Inman.
This doesn’t mean that a relocating consumer is just using the Updater app, but rather that he or she uses at least one piece of Updater’s technology suite during a move, the company said.
“We have an entire suite of relocation/moving technology that powers the consumer process, but may not be consumer-facing, like inventory apps for moving companies, digital service APIs, etc.,” a spokesperson said.
In a statement, Mark Birschbach, NAR’s senior vice president of Strategic Business, Innovation & Technology, said the 1.3 million-member trade group was impressed with Updater’s “business progress.”
“Updater’s platform delivers unique value to Realtors, property managers and consumers alike. This investment is well aligned with SCV’s mission to support and advance technologies throughout the entire real estate ecosystem,” he said.
In 2017, Updater closed a $45 million funding round and acquired two companies that offer business-management software to moving companies, IGC Software and Asset Controls Inc. At the time, the round brought Updater’s total funding to nearly $100 million.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional comments from Updater and to clarify that Updater expects about half of U.S. households moving in 2020 to use its tech, not just its app.