Agent services platform Place hits unicorn status with Series A – The Real Deal

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Place co-founders Ben Kinney and Chris Suarez (iStock, Place)
Place, an end-to-end technology and business services platform for real estate agents, has achieved unicorn status with its first funding round.
The Bellingham, Washington-based startup raised $100 million in a Series A round led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s growth equity business at a valuation of more than $1 billion. The company had not previously raised any external financing.
3L Capital also participated in the Series A.
Launched last year by Ben Kinney and Chris Suarez, Place offers software and business services for agents that range from administrative support and human resources to marketing, branding and accounting.
The platform resembles the technology offered by Compass, but Place is not a brokerage so much as a network among brokerages, providing legal and accounting services that franchises often do not.
Place targets the top 20 percent of agents in a given market, who Suarez said experience significant costs and other challenges when transitioning from entrepreneurs to business owners. It’s this top segment of agents that handle the majority of transactions today, he said.
“Consumers are consistently choosing to work with those top teams because they offer specialized and more consistent service,” Suarez said in an interview. “We see the majority of the industry needing to go that way.”
Place is set up to work with any brokerage, large or small. The company currently counts three of the nation’s top five franchise brokerages as clients, Suarez claimed. It covers the costs of its services in exchange for a percentage of the profits agents generate using them.
The platform was profitable in its first year of operation, he added, declining to share specifics. TechCrunch reported Wednesday that Place generated $11 million in profit last year on $85 million in revenue.
Place has more than 300 employees and a presence in over 100 markets in the U.S. and Canada, including Chicago and Miami. It wants to grow its headcount to up to 1,000 in two years’ time.
Both Kinney and Suarez are 20-year real estate veterans who each own and operate Keller Williams franchises in several markets.
“The tech was built by us while we built real estate teams — operating and growing these massive businesses that needed solutions,” Suarez said.


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