Former Savills Head Michael Colacino Joins Digital Brokerage SquareFoot as President
Colacino officially joined SquareFoot — which uses its own technology, online platform and a team of brokers to lease office space — earlier this month and said his goal will be to make sure the company is a “great client service organization.”
“I’ve been talking about using technology in real estate for a very long time,” Colacino told Commercial Observer. “I thought maybe it would be fun to live it.”
Colacino was originally in talks to become a strategic advisor to the seven-year-old SquareFoot, but the position eventually turned into the role of president once Jonathan Wasserstrum, the CEO and co-founder, realized the pair have “very similar visions” for where the company should go.
“It was a no brainer,” Wasserstrum said. “I pinch myself every day when I come into work and I see him still sitting there.”
In his new role, Colacino will sit on the senior executive team and help manage the team of about 55 employees working out of SquareFoot’s New York headquarters in Midtown. SquareFoot also plans to expand to other markets including Washington, D.C., which will be under Colacino’s watch as well.
Colacino — who graduated from Harvard College with a bachelor’s degree and got a master’s in real estate from New York University — first worked as a systems designer for various firms before he made the jump to real estate when he joined Savills (then called Julien J. Studley) in 1991. While there he worked on several large deals including Time Warner’s relocation and renaming of the Time Warner Center and its later move to Hudson Yards.
In 2002, Colacino and Savills’ chairman and CEO Mitchell Steir led an internal management takeover of the firm when 45 brokers bought out the founder, Julien Studley, and his partners, as Commercial Observer previously reported. Colacino was appointed president and oversaw the day-to-day operations of Savills — which changed its name to Savills Studley after it was acquired by London-based Savills in 2014 and rebranded to just Savills in March — until he left last year to pursue ideas in the proptech space.
“I realized that the industry is finally beginning to value technology as it should be, billions of dollars of investment money was flowing in,” he said about his departure. “It was do or die.”
Colacino formed Haiku Partners in January to invest in proptech companies and familiarize himself with the players in the space. When he came across SquareFoot he “immediately liked the mission and vision” of Wasserstrum so he decided to join.
The announcement comes the same month as SquareFoot closed on a $16 million Series B round, bringing its total amount raised to more than $29 million, as CO previously reported. SquareFoot plans to use the funds to help expand to other cities, grow its brokerage team and continue building out its online platform.