Proptech — or the use of technology to streamline and improve property operations and usage — seemed to reach its zenith in 2019. Investors poured more than $31 billion into all manner of startups and more established names looking to track data, clear the air and unlock doors (literally and figuratively). The sky seemed the proverbial limit.
Then COVID hit.
Yet, the investment continued. Sure, it dipped in 2020; but, once society and the commercial real estate market got their bearings, investment hit a record $32 billion in 2021. Analysts and venture capitalists were bullish on the following year — this year. Said one VC to Commercial Observer in December 2021: “The cat’s out of the bag. The industry is truly global, and adoption is accelerating very quickly.”
But 2022 has proved to be anything but stellar in proptech. The red-hot sector has cooled. Blame the wider economic tumult. Or the sheer number of newer entrants fighting for client and consumer attention. Whatever the reasons, investment is down sharply, and the general feeling among VCs and company principals is that the sector’s smoothest days, at least for now, are well behind it. The next few months to a year will likely see a wave of consolidation as well as closures. Some proptech firms just won’t survive.
Which, of course, means that others will. Commercial Observer’s inaugural Power Proptech list of the most consequential players in the field was put together with this change in mind. (We couldn’t have picked a more pivotal year, frankly.)
Some entrants are so ascendant that they touch just about every other company or individual on the list financially or in an advisory role. Others run firms that are so dominant in their niche that it’s difficult to imagine modern proptech without them. Still others — think major landlords or brokerages — are essentially invulnerable to any downturn or shakeout because their other business lines buoy them.
Here’s to the survivors, then, as proptech undergoes its first big shakeout. Those left standing will, indeed, be powerful.