Placester’s Big Year Keeps Rolling With $27M More From NEA, Romulus
If Placester makes good on its vision of becoming a market leader with staying power, 2015 will be viewed as the year that the real estate software company turned the corner.
Among the milestones this year: Placester snagged $15 million in a Series B funding round, grew from 43 employees to 105, and signed major deals with Keller Williams and Re/Max Integra.
Now, Boston-based Placester has even more money to build off of those successes. Today it announced a $27 million Series C round from previous investors New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Romulus Capital. Investors have poured $50 million total into Placester since it was founded in 2009 by Matt Barba, a former real estate agent, and Fred Townes, the former chief technology officer of Mashable.
Placester, which went through the Techstars Boston accelerator program in 2011, started out by selling software that enables real estate agents to build their own websites in minutes and easily link them up with vast amounts of searchable property listing data. The company has since expanded its products to include marketing tools through Facebook and Google AdWords; software to manage sales leads; data analytics tools; and software that connects local media publications with real estate agents looking to advertise properties.
Placester wasn’t hurting for cash after raising the Series B round in April. But the new money is a chance to create “exponential value” in the business and more aggressively pursue its strategy, Barba (pictured above) says.
Before the Keller Williams and Re/Max Integra deals, Placester had primarily signed up new agents and brokers one at a time. But those two national franchise contracts instantly grew the company’s reach—and revenue. Now, one fifth of the roughly 1 million real estate agents and brokers in the U.S. use Placester software, Barba says.
“It made a lot of sense to bring in money when we had that big opportunity in front of us,” Barba says of the Series C round.
The new cash also reflects the confidence that Placester’s investors have in its future. NEA, which first invested in Placester in the previous round, tends to “lean in pretty heavily” when the firm decides to back a company that its partners believe is the “clear winner in a market,” Barba says.
Placester still has work to do, of course, but it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Barba says the company will likely add another 20 employees in the next month and continue hiring in 2016 at a pace similar to this year. The team will move into a new office in downtown Boston early next year, he adds.
For the engineering team, this year was about rapidly developing and launching products. Next year is about adding depth to those products, Barba says, such as adding more search features and piping in more data from third-party software. Placester will also roll out mobile apps for real estate agents.
These days, apps seem like a given for businesses, but “for real estate, it’s really groundbreaking,” Barba says. Agents and brokers still have to pull out their laptop during property showings if a potential buyer wants to shop around some more, he says.
Barba wouldn’t speculate about a potential exit for Placester, but he says “we’re not trying to sell the thing tomorrow.”
“Our intention at the company is to build something long term,” he says. “Something where Fred and I could work for the next 20 years.”