“Proptech is no longer niche; it is now one of the largest categories of venture capital and is transforming the real estate industry” – Brandon Wallace, Co-Founder of Fifth Wall
As the above quote points out, today’s PropTech industry is worth billions. Stuart Bern has been involved in its growth since the beginning, when it was worth just a few hundred million in invested capital. In the years since he began his career, he has positioned himself as one of the industry’s key players.
Now situated in a new role as ATTOM’s Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Development, we sat down to talk with Stuart about how he intends to use his experience to help ATTOM grow and take the next step in its trajectory.
This is what he had to say:
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your background from before you came to ATTOM?
A: My background is primarily in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) in FinTech and PropTech. I started my career at Bloomberg L.P. in New York City, where I led an effort to move the organization into a new vertical by selling CMBS data and analytics to commercial real estate clients. The position gave me a rare opportunity to work alongside Dan Doctoroff, who was the CEO at the time. He taught me a lot about the intersection of the real estate and technology sectors.
A few years later, I moved back to Atlanta and started working at Costar Group. Shortly after I joined, we acquired Apartments.com and I spent the next few years working with the leadership team to build a leading listing network through both organic and inorganic growth strategies.
Along the way, I met Demetri Themelis, the Co-Founder & CEO of Knock. I later joined his company as one of its early executives and was part of scaling the business from a start-up to a revenue-generating company through building numerous industry partnerships, innovative products, and industry-first API’s.
While there, I was able to work with a great group of individuals and experience the excitement and challenges of growing a company from its seed round all the way through a Series B raise. The experience allowed me to be ready and open for the next call. When that call eventually came, it was from Rob Barber, the CEO of ATTOM.
Q: What was it that made you decide to join the ATTOM team?
A: It didn’t hurt that Rob and I have a history together. We met over a decade ago when I was heading real estate efforts at Bloomberg. However, what really convinced me was that it was pretty apparent early on that I would be joining an incredible team of talented individuals who have experience in scaling market-leading data and analytics businesses.
The team has grown together through the years and has experienced a lot of successes along the way. In particular, they have transformed RealtyTrac into a leading online portal with compelling areas for both vertical and horizontal expansion. The fact that this transformation was coupled with a history of successful bolt-on acquisitions led me to believe that ATTOM is a place where you would want to hang your hat.
I believe that everything happens for a reason and this felt like one of those “seize the moment” opportunities that I couldn’t pass up.
Q: Can you give us some background on your role as EVP & Head of Corporate Development?
Since ATTOM’s rebranding in 2016, the company has experienced really strong organic growth. However, about two years ago, we were fortunate to receive backing from Lovell Minnick Partners, a private equity firm with over $3.5B in committed capital since inception. Their assistance has allowed us to layer in an inorganic growth strategy to our business, including the acquisition of Home Junction in 2020.
Last year, we decided that dedicating resources to help us identify similar types of opportunities would accelerate our ambitious goals of expanding the number of M&A deals that we can do going forward and expand our ability to partner strategically with our industry peers.
I’ve been given the opportunity to spearhead building that community and that network.
Q: How do you see yourself guiding the company as you move forward?
A: There are really two main areas that I hope to impact going forward. First, I hope to build an ecosystem of founders, bankers, venture capitalists, and private equity partners who want to work with us to further the PropTech industry and adjacent industries as well. My main focus will be on nurturing those relationships.
In my opinion, the real estate industry as a whole is behind from a technological perspective, but it is quickly gaining positive momentum. ATTOM is well-positioned to help move the needle by partnering with individuals and organizations who have a strong track record of value creation. I believe that we can work together to provide innovative solutions that will drive PropTech and its adjoining industries forward.
Beyond that, I plan to work alongside the internal team to help accelerate the momentum they’ve been building. I hope to identify new external strategic opportunities that will help them to further our goals for our clients.
Q: What is your vision for ATTOM’s future?
A: We want to continue moving up the information industry value chain. We want to build relationships with innovative companies who are building data-enabled products and services or are focused on building data analytics platforms. Ultimately, we want to find ways for the company to leverage new and existing databases in unprecedented ways.
However, we also want to expand who we can serve. While real estate remains our dominant use case today, we’ve seen an increased demand for our data for applications within the mortgage, insurance, marketing and government industries as well.
There’s so much excitement around the information coming out of this space. There’s really no limit to the way this data can be applied and, when you layer in analytics on top of that, you start to be able to see the endless ways in which information can be used to help companies make more holistic and more intelligent decisions going forward.
Over the next few years and beyond, we’d like to see ATTOM continue to grow as a key player in providing that information and we feel that we are well positioned to capitalize on the current market environment.