IPO / M&APolitics & Money

Real estate tech startup OJO Labs raises $62.5 million, acquires Movoto

Company claims combining its AI advisor with Movoto's search site "will change the way we buy and sell homes forever"

Real estate tech startup OJO Labs announced Tuesday the close of a $62.5 million funding round and the acquisition of Movoto, a residential real estate search site.

With the latest financing, OJO Labs has now raised a known $134 million in venture funding since its 2015 inception, according to Crunchbase. Wafra led the latest investment, which also included participation from Breyer Capital, LiveOak Venture Partners, Royal Bank of Canada and Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures. The company declined to reveal at which valuation this latest round was raised.

John Berkowitz, CEO and cofounder of OJO Labs, told HousingWire that the new capital was only in part used to fund its purchase of Movoto and that the rest will be going toward growing the combined business. He added that the buy was made with a combination of cash and equity.

Acquiring other startups is clearly a key part of Austin-based OJO Labs’ growth strategy. The company, which combines human and machine intelligence to provide personalized property recommendations and insights, also acquired real estate software platform RealSavvy last October. OJO Labs also picked up WolfNet Technologies in October 2018.

It did not reveal how much it’s paying for Movoto, only noting that the San Mateo-based company is the “fastest-growing top 5 residential real estate search site in the United States with nearly 24 million monthly visits.”

The company believes there continues to be a big gap between the initiation of self-guided online search and the moment a consumer is ready to deeply engage with an agent. Currently, OJO Lab’s AI bot answers questions for potential home buyers and sellers when they are in that “in between” phase. Its purchase of Movoto will help boost its capabilities to help people in their home buying journey, the company said in a statement. The company goes on to help connect people with agents and service professionals to take them to the next level.

Berkowitz said Movoto’s ability to optimize search based on consumer behavior and engagement has enabled it “to compete with three massive, publicly traded companies while steadily gaining market share since 2018.”

“Movoto’s consumer-first search site combined with OJO Labs’ AI advisor marks a completely new experience that will change the way we buy and sell homes forever,” he added.

He told HousingWire that even prior to this acquisition, OJO Labs had doubled the size of the company over the last six months in terms of users and transactions conducted through its system.

“COVID has been a real tailwind,” he said. “We anticipate several multiples of revenue growth over the next 18 months.”

With the purchase, OJO Labs boosted its headcount from 279 employees to 347 spread across four locations.

Jim Breyer, founder and CEO of Breyer Capital, believes the way people buy and sell homes has been changing for some time. That evolution, he said, has been expedited in the wake of COVID-19.

“I believe OJO Labs is poised to be a leader in the next era of the homebuying industry,” he said in a written statement.

Meanwhile, the use of AI chatbots is becoming more common in real estate. Other players include CINC, which aims to revolutionize the lead generation process.

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