RealTime IT News

Famous Names Back New Commercial Real Estate Hub

RealPulse.com Inc. Wednesday announced plans to launch the first B2B e-commerce hub for the commercial real estate industry later this year.

Dubbed The Realm, the interactive Web site will be the gateway to a proprietary infrastructure of software and hardware which will allow the commercial real estate industry to conduct most of its day-to-day business online. RealPulse.com said The Realm's e-business tools will enhance workflow processes internal to industry companies and will also transform B2B transaction processing between commercial real estate organizations and various trading partners. It will accomplish this by consolidating Web-enabled industry enterprise applications, vertical-specific e-commerce services and top-quality industry content in one place.

Chief Executive Officer Alfred Apps said The Realm will generate the vast majority of its revenue from transactions and e-commerce services, including rent collection, bill payment, procurement and commercial mortgage debt origination and placement.

"Our basic objective is to unlock the full power of the Internet for our clients," Apps said. "When it comes to B2B e-commerce, what they are really looking to accomplish first is paperless transaction processing between physically remote parties at all stages of the vertical's value chain, based on integrated real-time data. The optimization of that value chain is something they know will flow as an inevitable consequence of satisfying these most basic requirements."

Don MacKinnon, The Realm's president, said the technology and client base already assembled will potentially streamline the world of capital transactions processing for the commercial real estate industry. He added that The Realm's ability to deliver lenders and investors basic Internet workflow tools driven by real time data maintained in the back office systems of the industry will have far-reaching consequences for underwriting, placement and surveillance functions of the capital markets community.

RealPulse said Wednesday that on behalf of The Realm it had recently completed the acquisition of four of North America's leading commercial real estate technology firms: ARGUS Financial Software, B.J. Murray Inc., CTI Limited and Newstar Solutions.

RealPulse said each company supplies mission-critical front-office and/or back-office enterprise software and related services for property owners, developers, managers, construction firms and homebuilders.

Funding for The Realm was committed, in part, by $140 million of first round equity financing from an investor group including Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Inc., TH Lee.Putnam Internet Partners, CMGI @Ventures, the venture capital affiliate of CMGI, Inc. (CMGI) (through CMGI @Ventures B2B LLC), Gleacher Capital Partners and several other financial and strategic investors.

The investment represents the largest-ever first-round equity financing for a real estate-related Internet venture.

The Realm intends to pursue an aggressive growth strategy in the real estate Internet space, seeking out acquisitions and alliances that will enable it to offer "best-of-breed" functionality and content to its clients. Gleacher & Co. of New York has been engaged as the company's financial advisor with respect to mergers and acquisitions.

"This is an exciting opportunity to participate in a combined enterprise that, at its inception, has the technology, business model, management team, cash flow and customer base to be