Agya Insights: Edition 104
Metaverse and Mimetic Desires
There’s a lot happening in the built world. The confluence of disruptions across asset classes in the post-pandemic world, growing use cases for Web 3.0 and real estate, and a deeper conversation around sustainability has led to a surge in entrepreneurial activity in our space.
And that’s a wonderful thing. Real estate tech stands at a fraction of real estate, and still materially behind where fin tech stands as a percentage of finance. That said, it does feel that we are in the second innings of innovation in the built world.
The first innings took convincing and explaining - mostly to stakeholders in the industry. Significantly, today, there are very few real estate developers, general contractors and asset managers that don’t want to embrace technology or learn more about it, globally.
This increase in the pace of adoption has subsequently compressed go-to-market timelines, expanded the opportunity set and enabled founders to be radically more ambitious. And we see it in our portfolio on a weekly basis.
In this edition’s newsletter we do a round-up on specific built world use cases in the metaverse - a theme that continues to evince interest from all quarters - and talk about mimetic desires. As always, give us feedback on what you would like to see in future editions.
Warm regards and on behalf of the team,
💡 What’s Happening
Meta goes remote and that’s just the beginning: Earlier this month, Meta’s senior management gave a glimpse of how the firm is embracing remote work:
Adam, head of Instagram will work from Hawaii, Los Angeles, and Cape Cod; Naomi, Meta’s head of product has relocated to New York; Alex, their chief marketing officer has moved to the United Kingdom, while Mark, Meta’s chief executive officer, will be spending half his time in California, and the remainder of the year working remotely from different parts of the world.
In all of this, Meta is not just trying to make a statement about the future of work. There’s more: by scattering themselves across the world, Meta’s senior management will try to demonstrate how teams can work effectively together, not simply by colocating, but rather by using a more immersive virtual platform.
If they succeed, it will be a rejoinder to the efficacy of the metaverse, central to Meta’s strategy of making our internet more interactive, conversational, and life-like. And if they succeed, it should also make the country’s - nay, the world’s - leading office owners and developers take notice.
The question at stake here is the following: when the pandemic and subsequent adoption of Zoom made physical offices less relevant, will the metaverse further dent our conventional understanding of what it means to ‘head to work’ every day? Will offices in their current avatar stand, or will they imminently become an antiquated commodity?
And it’s not just Grade A office landlords that should be thinking about the metaverse. There are signs of change across asset classes in real estate: from retail mall owners to luxury apartment developers to hotel operators - all have the opportunity to embrace the metaverse or risk getting impacted by its advent. Here’s how.
📚 What We’re Reading
The power of mimetic desires in everyday life by Luke Bergis. Bergis’ book makes a powerful claim on how desires drive us, and how most desires are derivative to begin with. It’s the reason why entrepreneurship is in vogue, and it is also one of the drivers that led Peter Thiel to invest in Facebook in its early days.
Shruti Gandhi’s substack on how founders can activate their investor and support base by an effective monthly update email. Few do it well, but those who do almost always generate good outcomes.
We will be curating a mixer on April 19 in New York with select founders, real estate operators and investors. If you would like to attend, please drop us a line.
💸 Select Financings in the Built World
Knock | knock.com
$220 mn Growth ($70 mn equity & $150 mn debt)
Payments platform for homebuyers
Snappt | snappt.com
$100 mn Series A
AI-enabled fraud detection platform for rental applications
Heirloom | heirloomcarbon.com
$53 mn Series A
Direct air capture company permanently removing CO2 from the atmosphere
Firstbase | firstbasehq.com
$50 mn Series B
Physical equipment management for remote work
Tomo | hellotomo.com
$40 mn Series A
Mortgage and transaction platform for homebuyers
EarnUp | earnup.com
$31 mn Series C
Payments and data solutions for the mortgage industry
Flock Homes | flockhomes.com
$26 mn Series A
Platform for landlords to own shares of a portfolio made up of multiple properties
TravelX | travelx.io
$10 mn seed
Blockchain-based distribution protocol designed to create decentralized, frictionless and efficient travel industry
Handle | handle.com
$10 mn Series A
Construction payments and notice management
For the complete list of real estate tech and construction tech investment announcements from March 15 - March 31st, click here!
h/t Aaron and Hovik for helping with this edition of the newsletter.