Government Lending

Venture funding roundup: The week’s top deals

Sonder, RenoFi, Landed, OJO Labs, Mynd and Doorkee are among the companies that raised money this week

Hello, and welcome to our new weekly column dedicated to industry-related funding rounds. Every Friday, we’ll publish a fresh roundup of financings in the housing industry, including who raised, how much they raised, a description of what they do, as well as who’s backing them and why. We’ll also mention any big exits in the space.

So let’s get started.

We kicked off the week (my first with HousingWire) with an exclusive piece on RenoFi, a fintech platform that aims to empower lenders to offer a “next generation” of renovation loans, raising $6.4 million in Series A round of funding.

Canaan Partners led the financing, which also included participation from new investor Comcast Ventures and existing backer First Round Capital. The investment brings RenoFi’s total venture raised since its inception in 2018 to $7.15 million.

Justin Goldman, the company’s CEO and cofounder, emphasizes that RenoFi is not a lender. Instead, it partners with mortgage lenders such as credit unions, which offer “RenoFi Loans.” 

Then on June 23, credit card giant Mastercard revealed its plans to acquire Finicity, a provider of real-time financial data aggregation and insights, for $825 million.

In mortgage, Finicity provides digital verification of assets, income and employment and is part of the Fannie Mae Day 1 Certainty program and the Freddie Mac AIM program.

The news came just five months after rival Visa announced it was acquiring fintech unicorn Plaid for a staggering $5.3 billion. Both acquisitions are examples of credit card giants recognizing the value of acquiring tech companies rather than just trying to build out the technology themselves.

Also on June 23, real estate tech startup OJO Labs announced 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.

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.

OJO Labs CEO and co-founder John Berkowitz told HousingWire that even prior to this acquisition, his company 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.”

On June 24, Wells Fargo led a $41.5 million investment round for Mynd Property Management, the four-year-old startup led by Doug Brien and Colin Wiel, who previously founded Waypoint Homes.

The Series C funding round happened despite the worst pandemic in over a century plunging the nation into a recession.

“It’s a strong validation of our technology, business, and virtual operations that during one of the most challenging economic cycles in American history we were able to secure $41.5 million in funding,” said Brien, Mynd’s CEO and a former NFL placekicker for teams including the San Francisco 49ers.

Other investors in Mynd’s Series C round of financing included the company’s existing Silicon Valley backers: Canaan Partners (who led RenoFi’s round), Lightspeed Venture Partners and Jackson Square Ventures

Also on June 24, OMERS Ventures led a $10.5 million Series A extension funding round for residential real estate company Landed, bringing the startup’s total venture raised to just over $22 million. Existing backer initialized Capital also participated in the investment. 

Landed offers a shared equity down payment program for essential employees – starting with educators – who wish to buy homes in the communities where they work across the United States. Landed’s down payment program invests alongside employees in education to help them reach a 20% down payment. Landed’s funds, up to $120,000 per household, come in the form of an equity investment, meaning that home-buyers share in a portion of the gain – or loss, if any – of the value of the home once it’s sold or refinanced.

The venture capital dollars are in addition to the over $50 million in private equity real estate capital Landed has raised for its down payment program. 

New York-based Doorkee, which describes itself as an all-in-one digital platform offering landlords and tenants a modern solution to the “antiquated” rental process, announced on June 24 it had raised $5.7 million in early-stage funding. New York City landlord Simon Baron Development and early-stage venture capital firms Corigin Ventures and Alpha Edison, which have both previously invested in proptech startups. Investors in the round also included landlords Stonehenge NYC and Bushburg Properties.

Cofounders John Fagan, CEO, and Jordan Franklin, COO, created Doorkee in 2019 to streamline and optimize the rental process by creating a peer-to-peer market that aims to solve for inefficiencies and common problems experienced by landlords, departing tenants and apartment seekers. By bringing the entire process online, Doorkee creates a flywheel effect that it says benefits all parties.

And last but certainly not least, high-flying hotel and short-term apartment rental platform Sonder this week raised $170 million in a Series E round that valued the company at $1.3 billion. 

Fidelity, Westcap, and Inovia Capital were joined by Greenoaks, Spark Capital, Greylock, Valor Equity, Tao Capital, Atreides Capital, and Lennar.

Founded in 2012 as a way to rent vacant college apartments, Sonder’s portfolio has grown to a massive size, according to Forbes. Today its 1,000 employees manage more than 12,000 rooms across 28 cities and six countries. Sonder signs three to five year leases, often partnering with landlords to occupy full floors, Forbes’ Steven Bertoni wrote earlier this week.

The funding comes just over three months after Sonder laid off or furloughed more than 400 people, or more than one-third of its staff. The company in July 2019 had raised $210 million in a Series D that valued the company at more than $1 billion.

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