ATTOM is drawing attention in the PropTech space and continues to make bold moves to cement its position as a leader in the real estate data solutions market. ATTOM recently announced yet another acquisition that comes on the heels of the acquisition of GeoData Plus, Home Junction, and the company’s divestiture of RealtyTrac.
The latest company to join ATTOM is Estated, a growing real estate data and tech company.
The news, announced in mid-August 2022, particularly highlights the value of long-term relationships in M&A strategy and in ensuring a smooth transition for customers, CEOs, and organizational culture.
We recently interviewed Joshua Fraser, CEO and Founder of Estated, and Stuart Bern, Executive Vice President of Corporate Development for ATTOM. The two executives shed some light on the evolution of this new partnership and its potential impact on the PropTech market and its customers.
Q: Josh, can you start us off with the background of Estated, a real estate data and tech company, and how the company has evolved over the past few years?
Josh: Sure. So, I became an entrepreneur around 2014 with a business that could be described as a Carfax for homes—a business-to-consumer-facing product. That business led us into the startup accelerator Techstars. We pitched to get into the program by moving to a B2B product with APIs and bulk data, very similar to the products ATTOM was providing in 2017. We went through that program, and in 2018 Foundry Group and Techstars led our seed round of funding.
We spent 2018 and 2019 focusing on product development, collecting data, building APIs, and building our bulk data tools. Around mid-2019, we began acquiring customers and doubled in size more than once. At the time, our products were mainly recorder data, assessor boundaries, valuations, and pre-foreclosure information. Now that we’ve joined ATTOM, the number of datasets at our fingertips includes some of the most robust and comprehensive in the market.
Ultimately, ATTOM and Estated were both looking to provide simplicity and transparency across the United States in real estate and property data. Estated was offering similar solutions to similar markets, and over time, we brought on more talent and established a strong market presence. We were quickly becoming one of ATTOM’s fastest-growing competitors. There were so many synergies between what we were selling and ATTOM’s mission that an acquisition made a lot of sense.
Q: How did the M&A process start? Josh, were you looking for opportunities?
Josh: I had been looking for opportunities, but not aggressively. I already had a relationship with Rob Barber, CEO of ATTOM, that went back a few years. I met Rob in 2018. I would come to Orange County frequently, and Rob and I crossed paths. We would have coffee once a year or so, catch up, and chat about business. He always said that once we got to a certain threshold in annual recurring revenues, that would be the perfect time for an acquisition. I later met Stuart Bern, Executive Vice President of Corporate Development. Stuart and I kept in touch and checked in with each other regularly.
Eventually, Stuart said now is the time, and we executed pretty quickly at that point. We did have another offer, but ATTOM seemed like the smarter move because of the longevity of their contracts. I, personally, decided that I didn’t want to be a CEO anymore and now I can spend my time focusing on other aspects of the business that I enjoy.
Stuart and I discussed options over a long period of time, and because ATTOM and Estated were basically in the same business and providing competing products to the customers, it was an organic and natural partnership that developed, and one that we eventually formalized.
Q: Stuart, what initially drew you to Estated?
Stuart: As Josh said, we had established an ongoing relationship, and we had similar outlooks. ATTOM’s M&A strategy has been focused on identifying opportunities that can continue to solidify ATTOM’s unique position in the market. We look for potential partner companies led by talented leaders with an entrepreneurial mindset and a technology background. Josh and Estated fit this description perfectly.
ATTOM offers a one-stop shop for premium property data that is fueling innovation in the PropTech market. With the recent divestiture of RealtyTrac, the strategic acquisition of Estated was seen as a natural fit, and one that was timely. With both companies committed to powering clients with property data for the real estate, mortgage, and insurance segments, and providing greater insight into the marketplace. We both felt that the collaboration would benefit the industry, along with current and future customers of both Estated and ATTOM.
Q: Josh, did you consider raising another round of venture capital? What ultimately drew you to ATTOM, a private equity-backed company?
Josh: Yes. We had lots of offers from venture capitalists, but it was really my relationship with Rob that drew me to ATTOM. We had a similar vision, and our growth goals were aligned. Rob and I were literally building the exact same businesses side by side. Lovell Minnick Partners, ATTOM’s private equity sponsor, were supportive, and that was reassuring when making the decision to work with a private equity-backed company.
Q: Stuart, how did the current market environment impact this deal, if at all? What advice would you give to other Founders/CEOs looking to navigate the current market conditions?
Stuart: In my opinion, the macroeconomic environment has shifted from a few perspectives. First, founders anticipating raising additional rounds of capital from venture capital firms found themselves in a different position in Q2/Q3 of 2022. They were focusing on cutting cash burn and finding a path to profitability. Second, the current market has lent itself to broader market valuation resets and multiples softening within certain pockets of the PropTech market, putting some buyers back in the driver’s seat.
We had a long-standing relationship with Estated based on ongoing conversations with Josh over multiple years, which led to a favorable outcome for both parties. Building rapport and strong relationships puts founders/CEOs at ease with potential partnerships. This pays dividends for the industry overall and its customers. It also helps to promote a successful merger regardless of market conditions. For ATTOM and other CEOs and businesses in the PropTech market, or in any market, seeking such relationships is a valuable part of an overall long-term strategy.
Q: Stuart, what was most important to you when integrating post-close? How has the process been going so far?
Stuart: Bringing two companies together is always exciting and dynamic. Making sure that the newly formed team is working well, and a healthy culture exists with strong communication and collaboration is top of mind. This makes the rest of the integration process much more efficient and successful in terms of people, products, technology, and finances.
With regard to the market, the news was well-received, and our joint customers have been encouraged by the opportunity to gain access to and leverage ATTOM property data and solutions.
Q Josh, now that the transition is complete, can you tell me more about your new role at ATTOM?
Josh: My role at ATTOM is focused on making sure Estated customers enjoy a smooth transition and a high level of support. As they are introduced to the ATTOM products, I’ll continue to play an active role in the business development side.
Q: What do you both feel ATTOM is able to offer now that two industry leaders have joined together?
Stuart: Estated fuels companies of all sizes across insurance, real estate, mortgage lending, and home service industries with simple yet reliable property data solutions. The acquisition of Estated was a seamless fit for ATTOM given our mission to remove the pain points of working with data and to increase real estate transparency. ATTOM and Estated are aligned in the mission to expand our data footprint and offer a lot more at greater scale to grow our presence in the property data marketplace. We hope to gain larger enterprise clients in more markets than we’ve ever been able to before, provide a higher level of customer service, and continue to innovate in the PropTech space.
Josh: I see the partnership providing simplicity for customers, and in two ways—simplicity of choice and simplicity in accessing and leveraging data. I think we can improve ease of use and access so that just getting started with the products is smooth and is presented in a way that makes our customers’ lives easier.
Also, now that Estated is under the ATTOM umbrella, customers need only make one choice when it comes to a real estate data provider. Customers know that ATTOM is the right platform with all the solutions, and the collaboration between Estated and ATTOM ensures a talented team is dedicated to customer service and PropTech innovation.