Tech Firm Launches Property-Matching Service For Tenants, Targets Former Xceligent Customers
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The December shutdown of Xceligent left thousands of commercial real estate brokers without a data platform, a void that industry giant CoStar quickly swooped in to fill. Now one new player aims to court those users.
Jim Simpson, the founder of Minneapolis-based commercial real estate software company Crelow, is relaunching the service under a new brand, DealBoard.org, and has already landed his first big client.
DealBoard reached an agreement with the North Texas Commercial Association of Realtors, a 2,500-member group, to use its technology in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, and the partnership is launching the service Tuesday.
The service is designed to match tenants seeking space with available properties. Rather than maintaining a central database of listing supply like CoStar, DealBoard focuses on the demand side.
It allows tenants and their brokers to submit their availability needs, which are then broadcast to all the landlords and their brokers using the service. The landlords then respond directly to tenants with availabilities that match their offerings, and the parties are connected. DealBoard also allows brokers to communicate directly with each other to share information, a new addition from the previous Crelow service.
"The 'a-ha moment' was recognizing brokers could use the system themselves to exchange information in addition to generating new business leads," Simpson said. "It's really the perfect solution for former Xceligent customers like NTCAR."
Simpson said the platform is easily scalable because he does not need staff to manually input information to a database. He estimates he could expand to the top 20 U.S. markets with as few as 20 or 30 full-time employees, plus a host of contractors.
NTCAR was previously an Xceligent customer, and it began seeking new solutions after the December shutdown, NCTAR Executive Vice President Brian Jetty said. He expects many of the association's members will still use CoStar and will see DealBoard as a complementary service. He said it is difficult to match the scale of property information and analytics CoStar provides, but he said there is a need for a platform like DealBoard to connect brokers on both sides of a transaction.
"That was really the next-step way of providing a service to our members very efficiently and affordably that would lessen their dependence to CoStar, and take the next step in the model of sharing information among the brokerage community," Jetty said. "We're not going to try to build a database again, because CoStar won."
CoStar and Xceligent waged a yearlong, public legal battle against one another, with CoStar suing Xceligent for copyright infringement and Xceligent countersuing, alleging CoStar was an illegal monopoly that had used anticompetitive practices and litigation to dominant the commercial property data industry. A judge's ruling in a separate case went CoStar's way in October, and two months later, Xceligent shut down for good.
Simpson sees DealBoard as a complementary offering to CoStar, at least for large firms in major markets. For some smaller companies that cannot afford CoStar, he said his service provides a viable alternative.
"They are a big organization, and I think it's going to be really hard for another solution to compete with [CoStar] from a listing standpoint," Simpson said. "We make it very affordable for small organizations. It's much more affordable than even Xceligent was."
Simpson said he is focused on the Dallas launch now, but he plans to soon roll out the service in other markets and expand rapidly. Crelow previously operated in Minneapolis, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, Seattle and San Francisco, but it worked with individual brokers rather than partnering with large associations. Simpson said he plans to look at relaunching in those cities and will target markets with large associations like NTCAR, particularly ones that relied on Xceligent.