By Naib Mian
With the launch of its latest platform, New York-based VTS, formerly View the Space, is using technology to transform the commercial real estate industry. Having raised $21 million dollars in new funding just weeks ago, the company hopes to help brokers and owners make decisions informed by a new set of data.
“The theme was more data, less clicks,” VTS co-founder Ryan Masiello said about the update 10 months in the making. “It was a collaborative project with all of our clients.”
“Since the first quarter this year, people have been buying into the new product,” Masiello said.
With the goal of centralizing a fragmented process, the two-year-old leasing and asset management platform, used to manage about 1.4 billion square feet of property, provides real time data, allowing brokers, owners and landlords to move off charts and spreadsheets and manage their portfolio and access deal information online.
“People are using the information about their own portfolios to make better decisions in buying or selling.” Masiello added. “It’s also helping landowners understand what’s driving a submarket and buy better in that specific market.”
The redesigned platform—which offers a changed interface and new features like a financial modeling module where users can pick and choose key themes and metrics to analyze—brought on new clients such as Quincy, Mass.-based real estate firm Boston Property Development; Atlanta- and New York-based Jamestown, a real estate investment and management company; and Atlanta-based real estate investment trust Columbia Property Trust. “Our clients are using it as a key point in decision-making,” Masiello said.
The rapid access to information has been vital to VTS’ mission. When it was released, there was about a three-week lag time before data and information were updated. Today, VTS is virtually real time as owners and investors can receive real estate information in less than a day.
“Every day, vacancies cost money,” Masiello said. “We’re providing a better process for driving down that time.”
Meade Boutwell, a senior vice president at commercial real estate brokerage CBRE Group, Inc. in San Francisco, said this real-time information has been helpful. “It’s never more than a few days off,” he said. “I spend a few hours a week maintaining VTS versus hours on printed reports.”
A large institutional investment client approached Boutwell two years ago to test out the platform, and he’s used it since. “It only took an hour to get used to,” he said. “I won’t even take business now unless they sign up.”
VTS also connects its constituents more smoothly. “It has greatly enhanced communication of my teams. Now everybody knows exactly what’s going on,” Boutwell said. “All of the documents are there, and all of the information I need is in one spot.”
This combination of speed and ease is an important part of the service Masiello said VTS provides. “We’re creating technology that helps every constituent move faster and be more connected.”
For Boutwell, the tech company is making strides in terms of standardizing disjointed processes in commercial real estate. “I used to need four different reports for four different owners,” he said. “They’ve all agreed to a standard form now.”
There’s still a long way to go, though. “We’re only just starting the climb in terms of technology,” Boutwell said. “Leasing documents, for example, are different everywhere. A standard agreement on that would be awesome.”
As VTS continues to expand, Masiello hopes to solidify the company’s position within the marketplace. “Our goal is to become the ecosystem,” he said. “Whether you’re an owner, broker or investor, VTS is the place where you manage your entire day.”
With plans to expand internationally, opening offices in Sydney and London later this year, he is confident the company will reach 2 billion square feet of office space hosted on its platform within one year.