Agya Insights: Edition 105
Imagineering + $10 Tn
We are going bi-coastal! In addition to our existing office in midtown NY, we will be setting up shop in San Francisco, starting May. If you are in NYC, come say hi at 430 Park Ave; and if you happen to be in SF, we will be at the Salesforce Tower.
On Tuesday, April 19, we will be hosting a small happy hour along the sidelines of Inman Connect in New York – we have a good crew that’ll show up from 5.30 p – 7.00 p at Quality Bistro; drop Elian a line if you want to come; we would love to have you there!
And finally, h/t to the team at OneNet for revamping our website. Feedback + critiques come to Agya; praises go to OneNet.
On behalf of the team,
💡 What’s Happening
Imagineering in the built world: Disney’s making a splash in residential real estate with Storyliving. Their first development, Cotino, is a master-planned community in California’s Greater Palm Springs, directed towards adults 55+. Notably, this is the first of many communities they plan to build across the US.
With Storyliving, Disney is playing to its strengths: it does not just want to build a community for seniors; instead the company is looking to design a residential experience and tell a story. As Michael Hundgen, executive producer of Walt Disney Imagineering says, "Story is at the heart of everything we do and we love bringing authentic places to life to immerse you into those stories.”
While this might be expeditious branding on Disney’s part, there’s an interesting kernel here: how existing residential communities are largely bland and have remained unchanged for quite some time. With serious capital at play, one often wonders why neighborhood scale development has historically lacked imagination and creativity. (1)
The flip side is also true. Neighborhood scale developments offer a unique sandbox to identify and deepen built’s world relationship with technology. With an entrenched market represented by tenants and owners of units at these master planned communities, the ability to innovate through design, technology and zoning is remarkable, and the market massive. To its credit, Culdesac’s pulling this off through their first car-free neighborhood development in Tempe, Arizona.
So, what should neighborhoods and master planned communities of 2030 look like, when Gen Z enters the market to buy? Here’s one take: carbon-neutral, car-free, micro-mobility powered, governed by a DAO, AR-ready and VR compliant.
And going by Disney’s foray with Storyliving, would it be speculative to assume that Snap or Decentraland might get into [physical] neighborhood development? At the least, they might be interesting brand partners to reimagine how we design and market future residential communities.
(1) Perhaps it has something to do with the nature of capital that supports these developments to begin with.
📚 What We’re Reading
Citi’s 186-page report on the metaverse, titled Metaverse and Money. The authors make a staggering claim that going by an expansive definition of the metaverse, the TAM for this space could be $10 Tn by 2030. Here’s their rough math:
You can find Citi’s detailed report here.
Renowned monk, meditator and entrepreneur Om Swami’s seminal book on meditation titled A Million Thoughts.
💸 Select Financings in the Built World
Vontive | vontive.com
$135 mn ($25 mn equity, $110 mn debt) Series B
Embedded mortgage platform for investment real estate
Built Robotics | builtrobotics.com
$64 mn Series C
Hardware & software to make construction equipment autonomous
Poplar Homes | poplarhomes.com
$53 mn Series B
Property management platform for single family rentals
Kayio | kaiyo.com
$36 mn Series B
Online marketplace for high quality pre-owned furniture
Flock Homes | flockhomes.com
$26 mn Series A
Platform for individuals to invest in rental homes through portfolio shares
Home365 | home365.co
$26 mn Series B
Automated claims and property management platform designed to maximize financial returns for owners
Cottage | cotta.ge
$15 mn Series A
Software platform and marketplace designed to unite people and contractors to build custom ADUs
Captain | captainhq.com
$4 mn equity & $100 mn debt
Financing tools that helps homeowners rebuild faster after natural disasters by paying general contractors upfront
Playhouse | playhouse.so
$2.9 mn seed
TikTok for real estate
For the complete list of real estate tech and construction tech investment announcements from April 1st - April 13th, click here!
h/t Aaron and Hovik for helping with this edition of the newsletter.