As someone who has been promoting, writing about, speaking about, and connecting with everyone and anyone I can all in commercial real estate tech since 2011, I can tell you that it has been a grind. Most of the time I have felt like I was carrying a boulder on my shoulder and slogging up hill. I knew that this was going to be tough, but man it was REALLY TOUGH! And I wasn’t surprised.
Since 2008, the commercial real estate market has gone through one of it’s most explosive growth periods ever. Enormous sums of money were being made in this bull market. That coupled with the fact that the CRE community was never tech savvy before, meant that anyone trying to get the industry to embrace technology was in for a long slug.
For me personally, I felt like our December 2017 New York City CRE//Tech event was a turning point. It was the day I finally felt like we had turned the corner and momentum was on our side. And it wasn’t just the size of the crowd. It wasn’t just the amazing speakers.
It was once small moment that really resonated with me.
I was sitting in the front row, the VIP section :). Empty seat next to me. Was locked into the panel that was on the stage. I think it was the Broker CTO panel. Mesmerizing content. Couldn’t believe we had the top tech and operations people from JLL, CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, Colliers and Newmark all on one stage.
Then it happened.
I noticed someone sitting next to me. He turned to me and smiled. I knew him from my PR days. He is one of the most prolific real estate investors and developers in New York, and beyond. Phenomenally successful. Completely self-made.
And he smiled at me and when I whispered, “What are you doing here???”, he replied, “I thought it was time I check out all of this tech stuff!”
That’s the moment I knew we had reached a critical moment in the industry. And there were many, many others like that in the audience. Subsequent to our event, I have been literally inundated with calls from developers, operators, brokers and investors asking the same thing…”I know I need to get involved in tech now and perhaps you can help me and my company get there.”
Of course the CRE tech industry is led by companies like Prologis, Hines, GGP, CBRE, JLL, Brookfield, etc… But when the developers and brokers that are in the mid-market of the industry start taking notice of what’s going on, I really do believe we are starting to get closer to that tipping point in CRE tech.