SOURCE: Hightower, Inc.

December 20, 2013 06:00 ET

Hightower Raises $2.12 Million Seed Round With Mission to Modernize the Commercial Real Estate Industry

New Mobile Leasing Platform Empowers Investors, Landlords and Brokers to Make Faster Data-Driven Decisions

SEATTLE, WA--(Marketwired - Dec 20, 2013) - Hightower, a startup that is modernizing the commercial real estate (CRE) industry through mobile technology has secured $2.12 million in seed funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP) and Thrive Capital with participation from RRE Ventures and Red Swan, and angel investors David Tisch (Boxgroup), Aaron Levie (Box.com), Joe Lonsdale (Formation 8), Jason Tan (Sift Science), Chris Howard and Brad Silverberg (Fuel) as well as Brandon Shorenstein, Lee Linden and Gary Vaynerchuck.

Hightower's industry-first mobile/web leasing platform enables institutional landlords and their leasing brokers to track and collaborate on deals in real time from the web and any mobile device. The cloud-based platform aggregates leasing data across property portfolios of various sizes and converts it to actionable analysis that landlords can use to make faster, data-driven leasing decisions that ultimately improve property value.

Until Hightower, leasing data lived in custom excel spreadsheets and was transmitted through email and other manual processes. Brokers emailed data to admins who manually populated excel spreadsheets. Actionable insights were hard won, requiring hours of manual labor to reconcile and normalize the data drawn from inconsistent formats. Hightower streamlines this process allowing brokers to input data on-the-go and query historical trends and benchmarks to give property owners visibility into the performance of their entire portfolio. The mobility of Hightower is critical because CRE professionals spend much of their time in the field.

Hightower is the brainchild of technologist turned commercial real estate executive, Brandon Weber whose background implies an inevitability to his current role: With two technical degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and four patents on his resume, Brandon began his career with Microsoft as a program manager for Excel, then designed software for Zillow, before moving into commercial real estate as a commercial real estate broker with CRBE.

 "We're excited to be partnering with an incredible group of investors who bring deep expertise in both technology and the commercial real estate industry. The opportunity to create value for this industry is massive," said Brandon Weber, co-founder and CEO of Hightower.

Brandon's cofounders are Chief Technology Officer Niall Smart and design head Donald DeSantis. Niall is an Irish technology entrepreneur and cofounder of Echodio, a Y-Combinator-backed music collaboration product that was acquired by RealNetworks in 2009. At RealNetworks, Niall was General Manager of their Cloud Media group. Prior to relocating to the U.S., Niall held technical leadership roles at various Irish financial institutions including Eureko Group and Bank of Ireland. Donald also cofounded LIFFFT, a boutique consultancy that helped companies including Nordstrom, Microsoft, and REI create new products and foster internal innovation. No stranger to the real estate world, he was also an early employee of Redfin's sales and operations team.

 "I was astonished to learn that commercial real estate has been relatively untouched by today's technology. As a technology investor, it's probably the closest thing I will ever experience to finding a lost tribe in the Amazon," said BVP Partner Ethan Kurzweil, who joins the board of Hightower. "It's an industry that is begging for modernization and Brandon -- with an impressive tech pedigree and first hand experience in commercial real estate -- is just the guy to do it. Hightower is pulling CRE into the modern age."

"RRE is thrilled to be working with Brandon and the team at Hightower," said Steve Schlafman, Principal at RRE Ventures. "They have a unique combination of industry expertise and technology chops to bring a much needed cloud-based solution to the multi-billion dollar commercial real estate industry. The time has come for the industry to modernize through a cloud-based operating system and we believe Hightower will be the company to deliver on that vision."

"Hightower provides a resource I didn't have before by putting my entire listing portfolio at my fingertips. The technology enables me to make updates in real time, be more responsive to my clients, and ultimately get deals done faster," said Greg Inglin, Senior Vice President at Colliers International. "Commercial real estate is an inherently mobile business and having these capabilities in my pocket is going to change the way we do business. Simply put, it's a difference maker."

"Hightower takes the pain out of deal tracking and reporting by giving brokers an easy to use platform that I can access from my phone, tablet or computer. Landlords love it because it consolidates all of their leasing activity and portfolio metrics into a single live dashboard," said Owen Rice, First Vice President, CBRE. "Hightower provides a dynamic solution that replaces the static spreadsheets the commercial real estate industry has relied on for one too many years."

For more information about Hightower please visit: www.gethightower.com

About Hightower
Founded in July 2013, Hightower is disrupting the commercial real estate market with a mobile technology platform that allows landlords and their brokers to collaborate on deals in real time, track important documents and information, and view real-time analytics all from the smartphone in your pocket. Hightower is the brainchild of technologist turned commercial real estate exec, Brandon Weber, who founded the company with Niall Smart and Donald DeSantis. Investors comprise some of the most prominent names in commercial real estate, entrepreneurship and venture capital including: Thrive Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, David Tisch (Boxgroup), Aaron Levie (Box.com).

About Bessemer Venture Partners
Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP) invests in early-stage, hyper-growth startups, partnering closely with entrepreneurs to build durable businesses. BVP is a global firm with offices in Menlo Park, Cambridge, New York, Mumbai, Bangalore, Herzliya and Sao Paolo. With $4 billion under management, BVP invests anywhere from $100,000 to $75 million in innovative companies like LinkedIn, Yelp, Skype, CornerstoneOnDemand, Pinterest, Box and Twilio. Over 100 BVP companies have gone public -- last year alone  BVP had 5 IPOs, 7 M&A exits, and 20 new investments. Learn more at bvp.com and twitter.com/BessemerVP.