Technology-based real estate brokerage Side Inc. became a “unicorn” today as it raised $150 million in a Series D round of funding that brings its value to more than $1 billion.
The round was led by Coatue Management, together with participation from existing investors Matrix Partners, Trinity Ventures and Sapphire Ventures, and brings its total amount raised to more than $200 million.
Founded in 2017, Side has created a platform that it says helps transform real estate agents and independent brokerages into boutique brands and businesses.
Side founder Guy Gal told Techcrunch in an interview that most real estate agents feel underserved and underappreciated by traditional real estate brokerages.
Side helps real estate agents and teams by exclusively marketing their boutique brand while providing the technology they need on the back end to support their business. The company says it aims to help agents “predictably grow” their business and improve productivity.
Gal told Techcrunch that Side is to real estate what Shopify is to e-commerce.
“When partnering with Side, top-producing agents, teams and independent brokerages gain full ownership of their brand and their business without having to operate a brokerage,” Gal said. “When you spend years solving the problems of this very specific community of agents, you are able to use software to drive enormous efficiency for them in a way that has never been done before.”
Gal argues that existing brokerages often discourage ranges from becoming top producers or top teams, because that means agents who serve fewer clients will have to pay higher commission fees on each transaction. That means the incentives between brokerages and their top agents and teams are misaligned, he said.
“Top producers want to grow and differentiate, and brokerages want them to do less business at higher fees and be one more of the same under the same brand,” Gal said. “Side, rather than discouraging and competing with top producing agents and teams, enables them to grow and scale their own business and brand.”
Side’s model seems to have appeal. The company saw revenue of between $30 million and $50 million last year and anticipates that this will double in 2021. During 2019, it represented more than $5 billion in annual home sales across its partners. It claims to have more than 1,500 partner agents in California, Florida and Texas.
The company said it will use its new funding to expand outside of those three markets, and boost its headcount from 300 to 500 by the end of the year.