The fintech startup adds major players to help bolster commercial real estate program
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–May 11, 2017–
RealtyShares, a leading online marketplace for real estate investing, has rapidly become a distinguished and dynamic capital partner for commercial developers, providing them with debt or equity capital typically in a fraction of the time of traditional banks. This is thanks, in part, to a business model that pairs institutional capital with more than 100,000 investors registered, thereby providing commercial developers capital for multimillion-dollar commercial deals nationwide.
The company has scaled rapidly and, along the way, has caught the attention of some major players in the commercial real estate and investment management space. Today RealtyShares has announced that Edward Forst, former president and CEO of Cushman & Wakefield, will be joining the trailblazing real estate technology startup as the newest member of the company’s board of directors.
“After leading capital markets and investing businesses empowered by the finest tech teams, it was a shock to see how starved real estate has been for technology advancement,” said Forst. “People didn’t think technology could penetrate real estate, but more and more it is finding its way into key markets and RealtyShares is at the forefront of that infiltration. With a sophisticated team of professionals at the helm, both CEO Nav Athwal and Chief Credit Officer and former Head of Risk at Citi Mortgage Arash Sotoodehnia understand that our company is going to be measured by the marriage of sourcing power, underwriting expertise and technology-powered execution.” Additional leaders in the company’s commercial equity division include former BlackRock directors Bryan Schultz and Shelton Getter, while Partners Capital and Thorofare veteran Bill Lanting heads the commercial debt product team. Coming together at RealtyShares, this seasoned and energized group has already taken great strides to move the industry forward.
Forst oversaw 16,000 real estate professionals in 60 countries at Cushman and Wakefield, one of the largest commercial real estate companies in the world. Along with leasing office space and managing building operations, the firm appraised more than $1 trillion in commercial opportunities annually. He joined the firm after 16 years at Goldman, Sachs & Co., where as a Partner his multiple leadership roles included global chief administrative officer, global co-head of the Investment Management Division and membership on the firm’s Global Management Committee. He also chaired the firm’s global underwriting committee for seven years and oversaw the development of the firm’s $2 billion global headquarters in Lower Manhattan.
“Ed has a perfect mix of operating experience, as CEO at Cushman & Wakefield, and tremendous connections in the capital markets world owing to his time at Goldman Sachs,” said Athwal. “Not to mention he is a great mentor and strong believer of what we’re doing here at RealtyShares. Our company sits at the intersection of technology, real estate and capital markets, so Ed is going to be a pivotal board member and can help strengthen the legitimacy of our business model with lenders, institutions and other high-powered real estate incumbents.”
RealtyShares has a diverse base of capital partners like CBRE and institutions that include hedge funds, insurance companies and family offices. A key focus for the company in 2017 is to broaden its reach into the institutional capital markets. Athwal believes Forst will make a significant contribution to that effort.
“Capital markets have been at the core of my career and what small and medium-sized institutional investors have lacked is a trusted, highly-selective sourcing and execution engine for real estate,” said Forst. “It has been very cumbersome to identify two or three primary originators and toggle a spotlight onto the best opportunities for you. That is one of the powerful aspects of RealtyShares. We are about helping you target and efficiently mine the right real estate opportunities pre-screened with a high caliber underwriting process.”
Forst will also be a member of the RealtyShares advisory board, comprised of several esteemed industry veterans. These advisors have decades of substantive experience, and should complement the company’s deep roster of real estate experts.
These industry heavyweights include:
- Joe Azelby – The Senior Partner of Apollo’s real assets business and the former CEO of JPMorgan’s Global Real Assets Group, where he led a team of 400 investment professionals and investments worth in excess of $60 billion.
- Keri Findley – A former Partner and chief credit officer at Third Point, a $15B hedge fund. During her time at Third Point, her focus was on distressed investment opportunities, particularly distressed financial securities and mortgage securities.
- Gerald Fogelson – Founder and CEO of the Fogelson Group of Companies. Fogelson has been actively involved in the real estate industry since 1955 and was inducted into the Chicago Real Estate Hall of Fame in 2003. He is the co-founder of the Chicago School of Real Estate at Roosevelt University with the first Endowed Chair for Real Estate in the State of Illinois in his name.
“These powerful real estate industry veterans are coming to the table because they are excited about what we’re building here at RealtyShares and how, through technology, we’re helping to permanently change real estate investing and capital raising for the better,” said Athwal. “Having their knowledge and experience at our disposal helps strengthen our position as a leader in online capital formation and investing for real estate. These relationships, along with our partnership with CBRE, help create further legitimacy with major industry incumbents that we can partner with in the near future.”
Built around technology, RealtyShares has embraced its multifaceted market, particularly on the commercial side, where the company has facilitated 88 commercial deals since the beginning of 2016. Across all product types, it has helped raise more than $300 million across 550 investment opportunities in 35 states. Since March, RealtyShares has helped raise capital for several commercial deals, including $3 million in debt for Rincon Partners, $3.5 million in equity for Avesta and $5.9 million of debt and equity funding for Hamilton Real Estate Capital, potentially the first full stack capital transaction by an online capital formation platform.
“The process for getting a loan or equity capital for a commercial project is very time-consuming and complex in the offline world, and that is what we’re changing with RealtyShares,” said Athwal. “Not only are we striving to be the fastest provider of capital for real estate, but we also want to do it in a way that delights our customers at every touch point. This mindset has not been integrated into the real estate investing and fundraising process on a wide scale, so we are proud to be at the forefront of doing that.”
RealtyShares is transforming the real estate investment landscape by using technology to connect real estate developers to debt and equity capital from a diverse set of accredited and institutional investors. Private investments are highly illiquid and risky and are not suitable for all investors. Through the RealtyShares website, these investors can browse investment opportunities, perform due diligence, invest online and gain 24/7 access to an investor dashboard to watch how their investments are performing. RealtyShares offers securities through North Capital Private Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC. For more information on how to become a real estate investor or to seek capital through the RealtyShares marketplace, please visit www.realtyshares.com.
Dave Claffey, 415-715-9423