The Real Estate Tech Revolution with David S. Rose, Founder & CEO of US Real Estate Market
This post is by MPD from @MPD - Medium
On this week’s episode I have a great conversation with David S. Rose, a serial entrepreneur who’s current venture is US Real Estate Market, also known as USREM. US Real Estate Market is a startup developing a capital markets platform for fractional institutional investment in commercial real estate.
David’s path to this current venture has been a lifelong journey. He comes from one of the generational NY real estate families and has dedicated a significant portion of his life to modernizing and tech-enabling the industry. As you’ll hear him explain, he was amongst the early pioneers of proptech, which included using spreadsheets for real estate projects when a friend invented the spreadsheet!
David shares some fascinating insights to the history of NY real estate and why the real estate industry in general has been slow to adopt tech.
We also discuss Singularity University and Andrew Yang’s run for NYC Mayor. There’s a pattern here in that both groups are highly forward thinking. The thesis around Singularity University is that tech is advancing at an exponential pace — which is even faster than what people think. He talks about their theories and the potential impact on society. David is a supporter of Andrew Yang and he makes his case for Andrew’s candidacy.
David is brilliant. His insights are unique and opinions well thought out. We cover a lot in this chat, and I think it’s an entertaining one. Enjoy.
Follow us on Twitter: @davidsrose / @mpd
Show Notes: US Real Estate Market, David’s Ted Talk
Podcast Links: Website, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
MPD: [00:02:49] Thank you for being on today.
David Rose: [00:02:51] Thank you for inviting me.
MPD: [00:02:52] All right. So before we start getting into the questions here, I’d like to start by actually doing your introduction for you. Uh, that way I can brag about you a little bit in the way you might be uncomfortable
David Rose: [00:03:04] will be a lot shorter.
MPD: [00:03:06] Probably. Uh, David has, uh, an unbelievably accomplished background, uh, run through a couple of the things here. I’m sure we’ll uncover more in our conversation. David is the founder and chairman of New York angels. The founder of rose tech ventures, the founder of gust, and most recently the founder of us real estate market, us Ram, which we’re going to talk more about a platform that’s enabling fractional investment in commercial real estate assets.
He’s also very active in the startup community and the community at large. Uh, he’s one of the associate founders of singled singularity university. And he’s a board member of the 92nd street. Y David, what did I miss? Anything else you want to tap in there?
David Rose: [00:03:49] A bunch of other stuff, depending on the context I’ve written a couple of New York times bestselling books, uh, the standard textbook on how to be an angel investor called angel investing and the standard textbook for how to start a high-growth company called the startup checklist, 25 steps to a scalable business and a bunch of other things, but that’s a good place for starters.
MPD: [00:04:07] That’s incredible. Well, it’s, it’s a good background for folks to know who you are because we get into this. I want them to understand your experience. Um, so why don’t we start at the top. Would you mind telling us about your current venture us real estate market?
David Rose: [00:04:18] Sure. So I have a whole history of starting out in real estate.
I’m actually a fifth generation entrepreneurial real estate developer. My family has been in real estate for a century and I started in real estate and my career and academics and real estate. And then went into tech. And spent much of my career in tech, startups and angel investing, in fact, at tech startups.
And now I’ve pulled all of that together with the current venture, which is called us reminisce the us real estate market. And you can think of it as sort of the New York stock exchange or NASDAQ or commercial real estate, but unlike a crowdfunding platform. And there were some interesting. Real estate prep funding platforms around this is designed for institutional investors.
This is designed for, you know, very large family offices, um, mid, mid size and large institutions to be able to acquire fractional interests in large prime commercial real estate, and then rebalance their portfolios and stuff as required.
MPD: [00:05:12] So will you fill in some gaps here? So you mentioned the family has a background in real estate.
Would you give a little color on that? Everybody listening?
David Rose: [00:05:17] Sure. So my family, um, multiple sides came to New York and then around the turn of the last century and just started on the lower east side and my grandfather and great uncle started a number of businesses, um, clean Brooklyn, better bleach, and ultimately rose associates, which was a initially a builder and then graduated to developing.
Their own business, their own properties and move from working class housing in the Bronx to middle-class housing in Brooklyn to upper middle class housing in Manhattan. And then the next generation, which is my grandfather, his three sons joined the business after world war two. And they took it even larger and moved into office and moved out of the city.
So my father who was still going strong in an age of 91 was the one who led them into a, he built Pentagon city in Washington, DC, one financial center in Boston. He was the genius behind Manhattan Plaza for the performing arts here in New York city. Uh, so I had that as a whole legacy, uh, that I was left and I, I joined into.
And so my undergraduate degree is in urban planning from Yale. And then I started working in government for Senator Moynihan that was pat Monahan, urban affairs expert, and then eventually ran his New York office here in the city. And then decided after a couple of years that had heart, I was an entrepreneurial, private sector type.
So I reluctantly left Monaghan. And by the way, if you get a congrats, you don’t get to like that early in your career. It is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. I mean, at age 21, I was writing up EDS for the times and conducting restaurant investigations and sitting on boards with the mayor. But after a couple of years of, of that, I went back, uh, left Monahan, went to Columbia.
I I’m an MBA in real estate finance. Um, and as you know, because we’re. Both in the Columbia universe and then join the family business in real estate for a decade, which given the timing of that, since I’m a bit more mature felony to say it than you are, uh, I happened to come into the business just as the computer revolution was starting.
So, uh, we were among the very, very, if I, if I didn’t invent the field of PropTech, at least I was one of the very earliest pioneers. We were among the very first people to use spreadsheets to do real estate development proformas. And if that sounds insane today, to anybody listening to this podcast or listening to the clubhouse room, um, the spreadsheet was invented by two friends of mine, Bob Frankston, and Dan Brooklyn with this account.
And so we started using VisiCalc on an apple two to do real estate proformas. And then from there I went on and did a whole lot of person. In tech and then eventually moved from tech into, uh, from real estate tech, into tech and then tech into investing. And now I’m bring it all back together again.
MPD: [00:07:53] What did people do before Excel?
Just out of curiosity?
David Rose: [00:07:57] Well, the term spreadsheet is from a sheet of paper that you spread out on the table. It’s a giant, big ledger size piece of paper, and you would literally either hand write it and then rates for the pencil or even worse. If you were doing it for presentation to evacuate, type it out, and then you change one number recalculate on an adding machine or a calculator, all the numbers there and re type it on a spreadsheet.
So literally when we, when we brought in. Uh, compute in our computers to do spreadsheet analytics for real estate, for people at the company lost their jobs because they were sitting, there were typists who were sitting there retyping these large spreadsheets. That’s
MPD: [00:08:34] unfathomable today.
David Rose: [00:08:36] It’s uh, it’s my buck.
I mean, it’s my mother and me too. And I lived through it. That’s
MPD: [00:08:39] amazing. So you’re, so you’re back at the real estate game and I know you took a big detour and we’ll go through that. And you were at tech focused more, more or less. Prolonged period of time, the last decade or two, I have that. Right. So, uh, what is the pain point you’re trying to solve, uh, with us REM?
David Rose: [00:08:57] So the challenge real estate is the last bastion of non-tech. And so I’ve mentioned that I invented the field of PropTech. So I actually created, designed and coded myself the world’s first computerized real estate sales office that got a full page and info world in 1982. 1982, that’s like 39 years or whatever is right from now, which is an insane amount of time.
Then you would have thought that would, that kind of stuff happened. And we also created the sold the first condominiums that had computers built into every apartment. I created the first location-based social network, because I had a building that everybody. Who had a computer. We created the first multiple listing service for New York city.
We did the first use of webcams for construction projects, all this stuff. And I mean, when, when I was cycling through the whole business and was in construction, I created the first construction punch list software using Bitex barcode scanners and everything else. You would think logically that you would then apply tech to real estate construction development.
Except it didn’t happen. Every other industry was being updated with technology and real estate. Steadfastly was this old, um, diehard non-tech universe and all aspects of it, whether it was construction or development, which is very entrepreneurial or management. I mean, you had some computers for running rent rolls and stuff, but that was about it.
And so it was only in the last God five years or so that the, the field of PropTech has emerged as anything. I mean, nobody heard a PropTech for prior to 10 years ago and I was doing this stuff 40 years ago. So it just took a very, very long time to get this going. And one of the, one of the areas that, uh, this affected is the capital markets.
So real estate. Has historically been a very opaque, very inside baseball, kind of a play development of properties is very entrepreneurial. I mean, even the biggest development organizations have, you know, four or five people max in their development operation and the kind of money that’s required for a major job or now.
In the literally billions of dollars, which means it’s very institutional play. So there is no know unlike companies that started small and could grow and people could get involved early on. That’s not really true in real estate was sort of binary. It was inside baseball, the original people who were in it, or it’s large institutions.
And so the way real estate historically was bought and sold and financed. Was either you built something yourself and you owned it, or alternatively, you bought a building from somebody else, which meant you have to have the chops to manage a property and the checkbook to buy a building and someone, or.
You invested in the syndicate and in a syndicate, a sponsor would, uh, who somebody with real estate knowledge would find a property to acquire, put hard money down as a deposit, and then go raise a bunch of capital from limited partners effectively, um, to buy that property, these people in the syndicate, and they would buy the property and then hold it and sit on it for 10 or 15 years until they add enough value and they sold it and distributed the proceeds.
But what that meant is it was very illiquid. You couldn’t resell your share once you were in it, these were all privately held stuff. And so it was all inside baseball. In the nineties, you have had the development of REITs real estate investment trusts, which are now effectively. Public companies will let you invest in a fund of real estate.
But again, if you’re an institutional investor, your choices are to buy a property yourself, give your money to a sponsor to manage or give your money to a REIT manager to manage. There’s nothing in the middle. So what do you do if you are a relevant, sophisticated investor, but who’s not a real estate person.
You want to be able to buy and sell your choice of properties and hopefully not have to buy the entire building, buy a piece of it and effectively do for real estate, what you could historically do with securities, right? Buy a piece of it and build a portfolio, sort of like build your own REIT by deciding what you want to have in it.
And how much of that, and that hasn’t been available in real estate literally until now. So the first change of this stuff were, were the real estate crowdfunding sites. I was one of the first investors in a great company called Realty mogul, which was sort of bringing the fractionalized real estate to retail investors.
We tell accredited investors, um, but that didn’t help big institutional investors who have writing millions and tens of millions of dollars of checks. So what we’re doing with us REM is creating effectively a marketplace, the stock market. For these institutional investors who are writing big checks on big core stabilized properties, there’s sort of the equivalent, your solid cashflow.
You can sort of compare these two, you know, tax-free immunities for example. Um, and they can build, they can decide what kinds of things they want to invest in what kind of regions, what kind of properties, how much they wanted to put in, or build their portfolios and then overtime rebalanced and sell their stuff in a relatively liquid environment.
So that’s the goal.
MPD: [00:13:26] Is this a managed marketplace or a marketplace? Uh, the distinction being a managed marketplace, I would characterize in this situation, is you going out and either acquiring the supply, the real estate itself, or specifically partnering with people and bringing them onto the platform, or is it completely open?
Anyone’s going to list any one’s going to buy.
David Rose: [00:13:46] And that’s one, that’s one of the big differences, right? So people who have done the real estate crowdfunding platforms so far, whether it’s stuff like Realty mogul, or originally fund riser, more recently cadre or Alexa, they are picking properties. Cadre for example, is buying things on its own balance sheet and then reselling it to its members internally.
Our goal is to create a real market. I mean, it true in the New York stock exchange, it doesn’t buy companies and then do primary offerings in that. Right? So our goal is to go to market. That being said, The New York stock exchange has listing standards. And so to wait. So initially to get this thing off the ground, we are actually working with sellers and finding properties to list in there and doing a lot of the heavy lifting of the structuring and everything else.
But the goal eventually, I mean, we’re, we’re trying to do, you know, a billion. In total assets printing the market within the first, probably 18 months or so, you know, a couple of billion in the first couple of years. And then by that point, once you get to the size, size, and scale in the marketplace, our hope is that people will come in both sellers to list properties and the people who are currently doing sponsored deals, we’ll put these deals together and bring them in.
So in that sense, it’s a true open market. Are there any
MPD: [00:14:51] major restrictions or complexities? That the real estate market requires that you don’t see what the New York stock exchange, right.
David Rose: [00:14:59] It’s actually the other way around. Um, the, so both real estate and securities are, are both regulated and licensed and restricted universities.
You have to be a licensed real estate broker and so on and so forth. Um, but in a real estate sale is a sale of real estate. It’s a very defined thing. It turns out however that the securities industry is much more regulated than the real estate industry. So, um, real estate brokers can make claims and say things about properties that are flogging that, uh, securities brokers can’t say.
So it’s fascinating, you know, as we find these two universes, right. You know, as you know, to, to have to be subject to all of the very stringent securities regulations while you’re selling real estate. And so by effectively securitizing real estate, we’re bringing these two. Both regulating universities together.
And it’s taken us probably a year and a half to just work through all the structure and all the regulatory stuff and all the legal stuff. But the result of this is we have a securitized structure or institutional real estate, which really hasn’t existed before.
MPD: [00:15:57] This sounds like a huge undertaking. How many people are on this team and how
David Rose: [00:16:00] long you been working on it?
It is, we’ve been doing it now for about two years. Um, we’ve got a core team of eight people. I mean, I’ve, I’ve got the perfect background for this, but it’s nowhere near enough of backgrounds. So we pulled in a sort of super eight team. So our president is Lizanne Goldberg who like me is a third generation real estate.
And one of the large real estate families in the country, she actually was the CEO of Gulf birth and company, which eventually merged into LaSalle partners that became JLL, the world’s largest real estate company. So she was on the board of JLL. Marriott hotels and resorts and Starwood and so on. Um, for, so that’s the real estate side.
Also another fellow real estate on one of ours, Lauren Rose, um, board generation real estate. Um, and on the real estate side, on the security side, we have Shachi Shaw who created a $28 billion AUM hedge fund. Uh, from the UK, we have recogn who’s the head of our us markets who ran the credit texts units for ice apparently, or stock exchange, and was the global head of prime credit risk at Barclay’s.
Um, we have, uh, will Nance who ran the corporate venture arm for first data. You might know that a Christian Vanderbroek who ran, um, government relations international affairs for the New York stock exchange. Um, John Biscuitville, our counsel GC was the lead FinTech counsel for Locke Lord. Um, I mean it’s an incredible insanely talented management team with an advisory board that includes everybody from.
The former chairman of the sec, Arthur Levitt to the former head of city group global wealth management, Tom Jones, to the former EDP of the New York stock exchange Lupe astena to my father, Dan rose, one 11 are real estate investors, Howard Morgan. You will know, we both know, um, uh, is on their advisory board, um, and a bunch of others.
It’s, uh, it’s really a hell of an operation.
MPD: [00:17:47] You’re knee deep in this, right. As you’re getting into this, uh, are there things that are broken throughout the real estate market that you’re not addressing? That you’d love for people listening to this episode to go and fix
David Rose: [00:18:01] well, keeping the fact that real estate, as I said, is the absolute last bastion of non-tech.
We’ve all seen them. I’m sure you’ve seen an enormous amount of deal flow in PropTech. And there are now probably half a dozen venture funds. All of which were spun up in the last five to 10 years that are specializing in the built environment and PropTech because everything in real estate is completely and totally ripe.
For technological enhancement and, you know, people would say, well, why is it? This is the world’s biggest asset class and real estate per se, with $50 trillion is the world’s largest asset class. And if you look around New York, this is what made New York, how could it not be computerized? Well, the answer is it’s really, really weird.
And if you think about how real estate exists, how is it created? Right. Somebody has to build a building, whether it’s an office building or an apartment building or whatever, and that, but that’s a very entrepreneurial, that’s the essence of entrepreneurship. You are taking on a big risk. You’re ranging the capital, you’re pulling together the whole thing to build it.
But when you don’t have to have in the 21st century, Is, you don’t have to be a, a builder per se out there with a, with a shovel and a hammer and, uh, you know, to, to build the thing right now, that’s the way my family started a hundred years ago when we were, they were builders, right? You would buy a property, you would build a property, you would own the property, you would manage the property, rent it up.
And that’s what you would do nowadays. That’s all bifurcated into, into individual areas. So for example, a real estate developer now. Typically works on his or her own out of their home, you know, totally remote. And you hire a general contractor or a construction firm to do it. And you hire an architect and you hire a salesperson and you hire a managing agent.
And all of these are independent players who are brought together sort of like a Broadway show or a movie for this one project. Right. And we have a lot of different players, a typical high rise construction job here in New York can have a hundred different subcontractors working on that project. But the only problem is you say, well, that’s great.
And it should be perfect for organizing, using technology to make it all work together. But yeah, but they’re only together for that one project or, you know, a year and a half or two years. And to get everybody on the same page on the same tech. Is virtually impossible. So despite the fact that, um, nature firms are now beginning to use some kinds of, of CRMs and building commission systems in there, it’s a very hard slog to get this done.
And in terms of construction, no matter how big a building you’re building is still a guy or a gal with a hammer and a nail, you know, building again on a crane, lifting up concrete to pour a floor, which doesn’t easily lend itself to automation all go, it’s coming. You’re just now beginning to see, uh, one of the things that we, we did a demo day out, uh, uh, last week with REBNY was real estate board of New York was for a robot that does drywall, right?
So, so the, the person puts up the dry wall. And then the biggest challenge with dry wall is to get the wall smooth, putting up sheet rock and nailing it in and then taping it and then putting on a smooth coat of plaster and then smoothing it out. To get that final, smooth wall across the whole thing you put on like three or four different coats, sand that down, put on a coat, sand it down, let it dry, put on a coat.
You make sure it’s all right. Turns out that our robot can actually do that better than a person, because a robot can actually monitor the whole wall, monitor the thickness of the coat. And if you set it up to do it, it can spray on an entire, perfectly even coat and therefore take out three other coats in the process.
Each of which takes a day or two to dry. So you can save seven days, right? That kind of stuff is actually beginning to happen. And you’re seeing this now, not only with CAD design and when I was building buildings, you had, you had big blueprints and literally printed on blueprint machines. Now it’s all that stuff is being done on monitors and the like, so there’s lots of opportunities, every possible area of construction, real estate development, sales management, operations, capital markets are all being disrupted at this point.
And so everything’s wide open.
MPD: [00:21:47] Yeah. It’s one of those areas we’ve seen for a long time. Uh, there’s a huge market, tremendous complexity. It seems like the natural vortex to pull in technology. But man, the adoption has been so slow,
David Rose: [00:22:01] but that’s because in every other area, innovative folks can come in and apply tech and do things right.
Real estate is. So the numbers are so big and real estate development is so entrepreneurial for people who do that kind of a thing that it is really, really hard for an outsider. To come in and insert themselves into the operation. Right? So therefore all you can be is a supplier of tech to the people who were doing it.
And the people who are doing it are making a lot of money. Thank you very much. And they have performed three at a time, not using a new fangled pick. So they really are not that interested in hearing about new tech. So for example, One of the things that we have spent a lot of time looking at on, and we’ll eventually come back to again, there’s the whole question of obviously digital ledger technology and blockchain and security tokens, and the like for which real estate would appear to be an absolutely slam dunk, logical no-brainer usage of this kind of thing in terms of sales and everything else.
And the answer is that’s all going to happen. Absolutely positively going to happen. But it ain’t happening this year and it ain’t happening next year, despite all the high profile things that people are trying to do this, the market is just not ready for it yet. So it’s moving glacially slowly will happen.
Why do you think
MPD: [00:23:12] now’s the time? Why are the large organizations, powerful people who oversee this industry suddenly going to start adopting? And when I think more or less, those organizations have been the barrier. Production the past, what has changed
David Rose: [00:23:25] and, well, Hey, you had a pandemic in here which is a fascinating change that the pandemic will likely affect real estate in the long haul.
More than any other thing. A friend of mine is the president of princess cruise lines, right? The pandemic comes in their entire business, literally stopped dead. Bring all the ships back to port. Thank you very much. You have no business for the next year, right? So that was hurt really, really hard. On the other hand, once the pandemic is over, guess what the ships start floating again and you’re back in business and it’s essentially the same cruise business you had before restaurants, you know, got hammered.
The, the hospitality industry, hotels, theater industry, all got killed during the pandemic. But they will all come back essentially as they work. The one thing that, and retail was always facing the Amazon and the, you know, the online end of it. And so the pandemic helped to accelerate a lot of that. But with real estate, the changes were happening relatively slowly.
The remote working was happening there very slowly. The idea of shared spaces and co-working spaces, relatively slowly, witness we work and everything else. What the pandemic did was to put that on mega steroids. And that’s something from which the world is not coming back. There’s not going to, you’re not going to have, you know, next year or return to the status quo, ante, just not going to happen.
And so therefore you’re now seeing an industry that is completely in flux with technology, which has been, you know, uh, messing at the gates for the last decade. Or more, um, you know, bursting through. And so therefore, as, as previous generations die out, right? Anybody who is, you know, our generation, your generation, who is now coming into real estate, it comes in, you know, grew up on computers, right?
They ended up bringing computers in, they grew up on it. They use smart phones. They, everything they do is online. And so this new generation is going to look at a technology. Well, duh, of course you use it to do all these things in terms of capital markets, analytics, construction, and everything else.
MPD: [00:25:21] Fascinating. Fascinating. So what, when you look into your crystal ball, uh, and you think about the future of real estate, obviously it’s going to be different than it was pre pandemic. What are your predictions for the post pandemic world? How is it different? The
David Rose: [00:25:35] really well, so some things are gimmes, right?
Some things are sort of easy ones wishes that you’ll have, you know, as you build new hotels and stuff, there’ll be built with more pandemic kind of awareness stuff and better ventilating systems and so on. And so, but that’s not a major change of something you’re going to have the, the, the question of retail, destination, retail, morals, and stuff is very sticky.
Um, because people are increasingly shopping on Amazon and wherever. And so you may have a local right now. You bet your local best buy store is serving as the showroom for Amazon, which drives best buy absolutely crazy people. Go and look at the things on the floor at best buy and buy it on Amazon, which is why best buy is putting QR codes on every one of their things.
They’re in front of get you to buy it on their site. While you’re in the store. Um, what you’re seeing with office buildings, however, is the going to be where the mega mega changes, because while there was a move to a more flexible kind of economy around real estate that had to do with share work, I mean, the, the year years of, you know, taking a 20 year lease.
On your office space up for fixed building and putting in a million dollars with an infrastructure gone. Right. That was, that was sort of in peril starting about 10 years ago, five years ago, as you began to have shared work environments and you needed a flexible space and whether you had we work or things like Notel or other things where you were trying to work around, how do you companies today, any company you’re investing and I’m investing in is going to be flexible company.
We wouldn’t want them taking a 10 year lease on something, right. So you’re talking eat a flexible space and the industry had to supply that you started out doing that with the whole idea of shared stuff. And whether it was, we work as the, as the sort of standard bearer. And then every developer began to put their own brand and stuff in place to inspire and Regis and the others were, we’re all doing these things, but that was, as you could project how things were going to go.
The pandemic comes along and everybody had to leave their offices, including their shared office space facility. And now they’ve found, whoa, wait a minute. We can actually work at home. We can actually work remote. We can have a distributed team and with zoom and everything else, it actually works. And you know what?
We just saved two hours a day of a commute. And we saved all that time of hanging around at the lunch hour and not getting anything done. Um, and so. The real estate industry. He was shaking in their shoes cause they saw everybody departing. I had a fascinating, uh, if the, uh, lobby conference this year, I moderated panel on the future of real estate.
And it was all about you all the major tech players were there. So we have folks like, you know, from Google and apple and Facebook and everything, and you would have thought that they were all the ones who would be saying, okay, that’s it. We’re not coming back to my absolute astonishment. The one thing that unanimously agree on was office space is not dead.
We need office space. Nobody wants to work at home all the time. If you have kids or whatever you need mentorship, you can’t do it at home. We want to get back to the office, but. The different and that’s good news for the real estate market. But then the difference is that how offices will be configured in this new world is very different.
Quora is a fascinating example in the middle of the whole pandemic core, a move to a remote first company. They said, okay. Yeah. And we have our HQ here, but you know what? This is no longer our HDU. We will now hire anybody with zero respect to, to, you know, where they’re located. We are turning our office in mountain view into a co-working facility, effectively.
Anybody can drop in here, the CEO, isn’t going to be here management. Isn’t going to be here because they’re working remotely as well. And so, so I think you’re gonna see more of that. What are you going to see his offices as a place to come on a occasional basis, a periodic basis, two days a week, three days a week, a week, a month, you know, you know, a month, every, you know, every other month or something for distributed universe, there is stuff you have to do in person.
There are some meetings that are really best had in person. You really can’t do over zoom, but it’s going to be a real rethinking of the market. And nobody in real estate knows the answer to this. Absolutely. Nobody.
MPD: [00:29:32] When does us REM go live? Because now it seems like a great time to be buying real estate.
So I’d like your marketplace to be online.
David Rose: [00:29:38] Yeah, it is. We actually are on live the starting last week. So our first property is now in the market. Remember it’s designed not for credit investors or retail investors. It’s designed really for sort of, you know, large family offices in the book. Um, minimum check size is two 50 K and up to, you know, millions.
Um, but we’re not, but we’re in the market now. And we have a lot of interest from a lot of family offices because what we’re specializing in is what’s known as core real estate real estate. As a, as a here’s a term, a term of art is deciding to four, four divided into four major types of assets. You have opportunistic.
And that’s what people often think of, which is the opportunity to make a fortune by building a new development, right? That’s, you know, you build Hudson yards or you build something from scratch. You have value add, which is taking an existing property and redoing it into something, doing a co-op conversion.
We releasing an entire new property, taking it, an empty warehouse and filling it up. And then you have at the other end core and core plus, and core is the safest real estate. There is, it’s a, it’s a prime property in a prime location, which is fully leased to a credit worthy tenant on a long-term lease, where people are just writing checks.
And so that’s the closest thing to a bond, right? You buy the property and people send your rent checks and that’s it. And that’s core. And then core pluses that would accept. One of the things is not quite the same as in an off area. It’s a smaller building, requires a little more leasing and so on and so forth.
So at us REM we’re specializing at least initially in core and core plus properties. Uh, and so that’s the kind of stuff for wealth preservation rather than wealth, wealth creation. And that’s why you’re looking for institutional investors to do that. And so if any institutional investors in the audience, uh, you know, drop me a note and I’m happy to put you in touch with our market folks.
MPD: [00:31:15] That’s awesome. Now let’s, let’s switch gears here for a minute. You mentioned Andrew Yang couple minutes ago. Uh, you and I are both friendly with him. Um, I know you’ve been a supporter of his over time. Um, what do you think is at stake in this mayoral race? What’s at stake in this election for New York city coming out of the pandemic.
David Rose: [00:31:35] No New York city needs a reset and that reset can be a Renaissance, a rebirth of what was before in a slightly different way, or it can be a new city. I mean, look, we’re busy. I once wrote, you know, you know, new, you know, 20 times New York has been destroyed in 21 times. It has been rebuilt even better than it than it was before.
Um, and so given all the changes we just mentioned about real estate and a work and. Culture and everything else that’s happening in New York city is the capital world. You know, people in London or wherever may not like that, but it’s true. Uh, and because of that, it is this unique spot that everybody is focused on.
And now that you have the, I, you know, some major companies saying they’re going to move to Florida or wherever their headquarters and stuff, you’re going to see a resurgence or a change in the nature of the city and what their poor New York city needs at this point is a leader. When you think about the people who have led New York city throughout its history, you’ve had at various times, functionaries and impeccably bureaucrats, whose job was job, was not to rock the boat.
Um, you had, you know, people who were hopefully financially oriented, um, to, to, you know, take us through a crisis period. Is it Bloomberg? So on and so forth. Um, and occasionally you’ve had leaders, charismatic leaders who are champions of the city who represented all of the city could offer in terms of opportunity and everything else.
Right. Think of Fiorello, LaGuardia. I think of ed cops in the best days of ed Kotch out there, right? I mean, these were people who were synonymous with the city who were cheerleaders on the one hand leaders on the other to get people to fall into often uncomfortable and tough kinds of things. And so what New York needs right now coming out of this pandemic on top of all the other stuff that was facing New York.
Anyway, given the investing technology is a leader and you look at the field. He got the biggest field. And I think a New York city history running for mayor with 30, some odd people, uh, of whom a number are really pretty qualified for this. But of all of those, I think that Andrew who I’ve known for over a decade and you’ve known for a long time is absolutely a leader.
And I, and I find it. Fascinating that the people, the city seems to realize that that’s the case. I mean, he is consistent before he announced he has been a bee polling leader. He has won every single poll by double digits since beforehand. And what that says is people who respond to polls and they try and capture everybody so that the people are saying, this is the guy for what we need now.
On the other hand, the establishment to what the political establishment, the progressive establishment, the New York city papers are all attacking him. I don’t know what the daily news has against them, but the daily news is that there’s been data against him as are several other things out there, which is wild.
I mean, I’ve known this guy, as I said, for a decade, he is totally straight. He is smart as all hell. He was one of the first people to really understand. The whole question of accelerating technology and what it means to the economy and something like UBI, universal, basic income, you can like it or not like it, but we are going to end up on alterable without question with something like that, because the accelerating pace of technological change is simply going to upend society, as we know it.
And for a city that is now on the verge of something new. Right. Whether it’s resurgence or reinvention, you need a leader. You need a leader who understands all of the really tough stuff. That’s happening on the one hand, um, who was an entrepreneurial out of the box thinker, but who was a rational person?
Uh, and that’s Andrew Yang.
MPD: [00:35:03] That’s fantastic. Are there particular policies that you think are mission critical in the short term? You mentioned UBI, universal, basic income for folks listening. Are there things that you think we really need? And I ask that I would ask the question from two lenses, one from broader resurgence of New York.
And then secondly, selfishly from the development of the tech ecosystem, are there policies you’re looking to.
David Rose: [00:35:25] So the tech ecosystem is fascinating. It is remarkably resilient. Um, so, you know, you had under Mike Bloomberg, a techie, a tech entrepreneur who did a lot to spur the development of the tech ecosystem in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Um, so it was for example, under Mike Bloomberg, that we conceived of the concept of digital.nyc, which is an online hub. For the whole tech and startup community over here. So we actually, I actually designed that for Bloomberg and we built this under initially a contract, um, for, from the EDC under Bloomberg.
Uh, it took a long time to build that whole platform. And then, you know, after he was out of office, you have DeBlasio committed and DeBlasio. Who means well, but it’s neither a techie nor an entrepreneur, um, nor particularly business friendly, um, had no tech policy and he was however, smart enough and politically astute enough to realize that this thing we developed for Bloomberg was actually a logical thing to help enhance the tech community.
So, um, it was under, uh, de Blasio has watched the. Um, digital.nyc actually got launched and, you know, a year later, um, uh, you know, your city was named the most advanced tech city in the world in terms of what the city was, was doing to help develop the, the whole tech universe here. But as you and I both know, being VCs and investing in this space and not very old types, the hope, what is starting the tech industry, what starts to take energy and powers it, our entrepreneurs, our founders, our private sector money.
Nobody has ever been able in any country anywhere to say, oh, hi, I’m here from the government. And I’m here to create a tech ecosystem, right? It doesn’t work. You can’t create entrepreneurs and you can’t, you can only so much you can do in terms of funding them. Um, you know, governor Cuomo tried to do something with startup New York on a, on a statewide scale with, um, uh, the whole opportunity zone question and, uh, zones, where they were trying to get people to come into.
It was an interesting effort. It was well-intentioned there were some good things about it, but in practical terms, it really wasn’t very effective at getting jobs and new jobs into those areas. So I think you will find that the, the startup university or the tech community that we have in New York is remarkably resilient and is, is built up by for, and with entrepreneurs, founders, founders, and founding teams, angels VCs, and as long as government doesn’t proactively get in the way of doing it.
It’s going to flourish. So I think that as far as the tech community is concerned, we know on the one hand we’ll do just fine. Thank you. If you get out of our way and don’t do crazy things. On the other hand, the city itself absolutely positively needs to do something about tech because tech and. In the city government itself has a long been neglected.
You had a good start under Bloomberg, but it wasn’t enough. Nothing’s happened over the last eight years here in the city. I was talking to Andrew Rochet recently, who, you know, from, from civic hall is right in the middle of these, these things. Um, and you know, there, there is an absolute need for the next mayor, whoever it is.
And of course it would be a no brainer under, under a young mayor mayoralty, um, is to effectively establish whether you call it a tech czar or a functioning, you know, deputy mayor level CTO, or something to really apply technology to all the workings of the city government on the one hand and use it to enfranchise a much larger.
Part of the New York city population. We now there is a digital divide and New York is better than most places about coming over it, but we’re certainly not there yet. Whether just looking at what’s happening with school kids in the public school system who are in homes without broadband internet, without iPads and everything else, it’s been a debacle.
And so we need to apply the next mayor, whoever the mayor is, needs to absolutely apply technology a to the city and B to the city as population itself.
MPD: [00:39:09] And do you think that’s like, uh, more or less a giveaway? And I know that that’s a loaded phrase, but it’s making sure people have access to broadband or low cost iPads.
And what is the actual thing that needs to be done outside of applying the techno the software to the city itself?
David Rose: [00:39:24] Well, I think, I think those are the two, right? The two things are one applying to the city, which is a whole other kettle of fish. And you’re not looking for a city time, make a giant, you know, back end installation.
You’re looking for, you know, applying technology the way all of us would consider applying technology rationally in the private sector to business. But the, you know, the, the two biggest things for the population are, you know, one broadband, a total. Universal broadband access to everybody everywhere. So that shouldn’t be in because in the 21st century, if you are not online, you are not, you you’re like a Dr.
Seuss animal that doesn’t exist. Right? I mean, you, you have to be there. Cause everything we do is good. This, whether it’s called public utility now, W we’re connected on, on a, on a podcast we’re connected on club. I simultaneously, right? I mean, so, and so everything that’s happening is happening online. So you cannot disenfranchise people by not having them do that.
Number one, right? Number two, you need something to access that having broadband doesn’t do any good. If you don’t have a terminal device, whether it’s a computer or an iPad or an iPhone or something that would let you go to school, go to work, you know, participate in the remote economy and the like. So, and again, I don’t know whether this is grants or whether it is enabling.
I mean, what we, what, uh, Google and sidewalk did with, with link NYC, right? Which is a very, that’s a private sector, totally private sector funded operation. We’re advertising revenues from these digital kiosks on, on this street is paying for the distribution of if not universal, at least very widespread broadband and great utility.
Okay. The streets, I think you have to think out of the box, things like that. I think the city can do a lot to encourage the private sector. One of the things I would hope to see under the next mayor and I think will be really great if it’s under a yang and that a few of the other candidates, uh, is making use of the private sector.
I mean, you know, the bill de Blasio, who, again, I assigned good motives that of Osceola. I am much less of a detractor of his than most people I know are. I think he has tried his hardest. I think he’s misguided. And I think he’s inefficient and I think it really hasn’t worked, but that being said, he’s trying, but the one thing he really hasn’t tried that much to do, which I think is one of the biggest failures of the administration is that engaging the private sector because New York has a vibrant private sector.
And I think the private sector is going to have to be a part of this. And whether that means the next mayor spurring the development of small businesses, right. But day goes and, um, uh, newsstands and nail salons and. Things that are historically, you know, immigrant from businesses that provide street level services and, and a path up, or whether they are the startup economy that you and I and operate in and Silicon alley here in New York, or whether they are keeping middle-class businesses that are operating that want to operate here that are storefront retail and the like, but can’t economically do it providing some way to help them.
I think that’s all required. And I think that’s going to be an important part of the agenda for the next mayor.
MPD: [00:42:14] A lot of the stuff that Yang’s initial platform. Was based on to me when I, when he ran his presidential campaign and a lot of the stuff you’re referencing seems to root in the concepts that were really brought to market by singularity university.
And I know, uh, you were involved in the early days of getting that set up. Would you give a quick overview of what singularity university is?
David Rose: [00:42:38] Oh, that’s a straight line and I love you for it. Yes. Um, and, and, and you’re, you’re absolutely right. And then Andrew has been effectively the singularity candidate.
He’s actually spoken at singularity U events. We’ve had them out there for various things. So singularity university, and hold on, I’ll try to keep this relatively brief, cause this is one of my, my hot button issues, um, was founded over a decade ago by a guy named, um, Uh, Peter Diamandis who founded the X prize foundation and Ray Kurzweil, who is probably the closest thing our generation has to Thomas Edison.
And so Kurtzweil had written a book called the singularity is near, and his premise was everybody familiar relation. Everybody literally is familiar with Moore’s law. And what is Moore’s law? Moore’s law, Gordon Moore, the former CEO Intel made an observation that the number of transistor equivalents that Intel could fit on a chip.
Was doubling every 18 months and he made this, I don’t know, 30 or 23 years ago. Um, and it kept going and he said, as far as we can see this doubling is going to happen. And so that got taken as a shorthand for oh wow. Technology is advancing because Intel can fit as many chips on my, you know, transistors on a chip.
So Carswell looked at this and said, okay, um, I wonder if we normalize it. So instead of just transistors on a chip, you try and you apply it to technology generally. So for a lot of thinking around, he normalized the, the definition or the, the metric to millions of computer ins, millions of instructions.
Per second per dollar. And there’s, what does it cost you to do, you know, computer instructions or digital instructions in this timeframe for this amount of money? And so once you normalize it, you then look back in time and he said, you know, from the beginning of the 20th century, When you had Herman Hollerith invented punch cards with the founding of IBM in 1908, 1910 census.
Um, and then you move up to things like relays, which allow you to throw away a large load with a, with a small bit of energy. And then you got to vacuum tubes, which enable you to store one bit of data, and then you go to transistors and then, then you go to an integrated circus. Each of these paradigm shifts, um, change the way we did things.
And if you look at the, the time between them, When you look at the, you know, millions of instructions per second, per dollar, once you normalize it, you can take this the equivalent of Moore’s law back to the beginning of the 20th century. And you say for a hundred years or 110 years, it was growing at that same pace.
So then Kurzweil said, well, wait a minute, if that was true for a hundred years to five different paradigm shifts, I wonder if you can go farther back than that. So he pulled every list of paradigm shifts in technology that anybody had ever done the Smithsonian well and Ariel Duran, the British museum and so on and so forth.
Um, and you know, from the fire and the bronze age to the wheel to whatever is, and you plotted it all out. And so I’m a bitch. It turns out that this same doubling every 18 months has been true back to the beginning of recorded human history. And so he said, holy moly, once you look at that, and you say that effectively technology, once you normalize the definition has been doubled every 18 months for recorded history, more than first question.
Well, why didn’t, you know, cave men have I-phones and that it was on that fast. And the answer is if you start very, very small, you know, 0.0001, and you double it, you get the 0.002. And the incremental change is very, very small. And it’s only when you get up to, you know, 0.2 0.4 0.8, ha 1.6, 3.0, and all of a sudden you hit the knee of the curve.
And when you plot it on a, on a linear chart, it looks like whoop it skyrockets. And we hit the knee of that curve in the 20th century, right? With the development of everything, from computers to rockets, to whatever. And now. This is the point that Andrew Yang keeps making cause you’re right. He is the perfect singularity candidate that would this exponential growth of technology doubling every 18 months.
I mean, the, the current iPhone, 12 of the chip in the iPhone, 12 can do 13 trillion instructions per second, which is insane. That is mindbogglingly insane by any metric you want to put it in, right? And you think about doubling that every 18 months effectively for the foreseeable future. And so Kurtzweil said, well, wait a minute.
If this has been held in holding true for all of humanity and it’s continuing to double, well, what happens when you continue this, when you go forward and where do you go to the next paradigm shift? Well, the next paradigm shift, according to Kurzweil is, will happen when the next generation of computers begins to design the next generation of computers.
When you get effectively, when computers and humans merge. And at that point either where we’re all the $6 million man and the bionic woman, right? Because we’ve got computers throughout our entire body. Or else the other way around you clone your, your brain and put it in a box. And that box now can do a Mark Peter Davis podcast, as well as you can with the same history and the same, you know, everything else in that probably a lot better.
And, and, and, and a synthesized voice and everything else. Right. And it looks like Doris pony. Um, and so, yeah, so, you know, and so you have this box, so Kurtz was said, the next paradigm shift will be computers and humans merging. And so then he wrote this book, the singularity is near, when is that going to happen?
And so based on everything he knew of and everything he could figure out about developments in computing, power in gen general, artificial intelligence and miniaturization and robotics and nanotechnology and so on and so forth. You said, okay. He projects that that ship is going to happen by 2045. So that’s 24 years from now.
MPD: [00:47:55] The thing that, that I think bucks, a lot of the people who are following the exponential concept. Is where the line goes. I think it’s hard for people to even imagine or take it seriously that, that, that type of reality.
David Rose: [00:48:07] And that’s the point, but that’s exactly what singularity he was all about. So, so when this book came out, there were three reactions.
The first reaction was from, you know, people. Oh, that’s ridiculous. Human exceptionalism. It’ll stop it. Can’t go on forever. There’s a version of this that forget that, right. Forget those people, they don’t believe in technology. They don’t believe in vaccines. They don’t believe in a whole bunch of other things.
Right. The second group said smart people said, okay. Yeah, you’re right. That’s where things would, it would end up. If we survive, but you know what? We are not that good. We’re already overheating our planet. Whether you have climate crisis, whether some crazy person’s going to have a suitcase. New can take out New York, whether you’re going to have a nano cloud and an EMP to bloke civilization, our civilization is not going to be able to stand that long.
So don’t worry about what happens in 2045, figured out how we get there. Right. That’s a little dyspeptic right. And so the third group of people were people who read, but a second group that is actually accurate and they, and the projections are really pretty close and that somehow we’ll manage to survive to get there.
And that third group said, okay, well now what do we do? And so that group consisting of people like Google and, um, NASA and, um, you know, uh, uh, Autodesk and, um, you know, it was all kinds of major players. Nokia got together and said, okay, let’s do something. And Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis created this thing called singularity university to act as a sort of a think tank and a post-graduate program.
To based on this thesis, bring together the world’s brightest, next generation of entrepreneurial leaders and thinkers out of the box thinkers, giving them a pole, put intense grounding on all these different areas. Technology is based on the network and so on and so forth, and then set them to solve humanity’s grand challenges and see how they can positively affect the lives of a billion people.
And that’s what singularity university was all about. And as has, has had done an amazing job. Not perfect, but it’s not a great job of at least spreading the word. And now people like Andrew were beginning to pick it up and implement.
MPD: [00:50:01] I think they really made some of these comp, uh, concepts far more mainstream, and there’s a 60 minutes on exponential change and how the, um, quality of life is, is evolving rapidly.
You’ve got Andrew Yang talking about UBI, right? It’s out there. And I think it’s almost a household concept, but my question for you is taking away the. The medium term, 2020, 45 projection. Right? Cause I think people have a hard time swallowing that whether it can bait the merits of it or not, there’s a path there.
And you had mentioned a few minutes ago that the, because of technology’s rapid accelerating change, it’s upending the social structure and we need to have a UBI. Will you fill in the blanks around that narrative for people listening? Sure. Why, why is accelerating technology going to make it so we need a universal, basic income.
David Rose: [00:50:49] Got it. Okay. So let me back up one second, in terms of, of kind of your, the one thing that singularity is best at doing single most important output, a singularity university deals with your first question, and that is people can’t grok the whole idea of what is this exponential change. And so going through.
Singularity you are getting immersed in that, in that universe. To me, I analogize it to getting a permanently affixed pair of old method, reality goggles, because once you, once you have gotten the idea of exponentials into your head and exponentials are the whole basis of singularity you, what that tells you is that we are so used to thinking of life in a linear fashion.
One, two, three, four, five. We are not used to thinking in terms of exponential two, four, eight, 16, 30, two, 54, you know, one gig to gig for good. Right. Um, and so once you actually get into your head, that technology is advancing that way. Right? I mean, if somebody has said the biggest story in America by an order of magnitude would, would not have existed 25 years ago.
And now, you know, the, the truck pulls up in the morning and Amazon delivers EV every apartment getting an Amazon delivery every day. Right. Um, so. These are the major impact of this, of this exponential change is outstrips our ability to understand, or even envision that as, as people. And so what you’re seeing is in, you know, with this exponential growth, a fundamental change of what business is, if somebody had told you, just like they told you, the pandemic will stop all the business in the world that all retail, the storefront, the local street retail would be effectively eviscerated because you can get Amazon prime real delivery.
Free of anything you want from a giant warehouse in long island, and we’ll come in and put that forward a year to four years, right? It will be delivered by grown right to your window. It’ll be cut. It will be coming in. If it’s a digital thing, beamed directly into your brain with nanotechnology tying into the matrix.
I mean, you know, once you start looking at where this technology goes, It fundamentally affects work. And one of the most telling and fascinating statistics that I’ve seen, and it’s the opposite. Paul Krugman wrote a, wrote an editorial in the times last week saying Yan can’t do the math. He doesn’t understand what’s going on.
And the problem is Paul Krugman is a very bright guy. Does not understand the exponentials and that’s the core challenge there. So he was saying, well, you’d expect it to technology was really going to be eliminating jobs, which is what Andrew was saying. You would have seen that appear in the economy when you know what you did.
And the only the way to make that totally stark is to look at a graph consisting of the GDP of the domestic output of what you’re doing and the average wage, the average worker wage, and what happens is. GDP goes up and the wage goes up straight line from the beginning of 20th century, it goes up, it goes up until the 1970s and in the 1970s, what happens?
Okay. GDP goes up and up and up continuing and work our wages, flatlined, literally line. And so what is that telling you? What does, why the seventies, because that’s when technology first came into play in any kind of scale. And so what has happened since then is that all of GDP are pertinent to the growth of technology has not been captured by people it’s been.
And so if you take a look at the jobs that are being eliminated, right, they’re the first jobs to go are resource extraction, jobs, mining, mining is not coming back for those, those mining jobs. Right. Then production manufacturing, going to robotics, transportation, going to autonomous vehicles, retail going to online stuff automatically.
And what you were seeing is, is going to be a systematic disassembling of the economy and all of these, these jobs that are either unskilled or semi-skilled jobs that are going to be literally gone. And so we are going to get to a point where when you rebuild the world, You know, from scratch in X number of years, pick a number five, 10, 25, 50, whatever number you want, you want to pick.
What does the world look like? It looks like you’ve got entrepreneurs. You’ve got the creative and engineering types who work with entrepreneurs to create these new companies. You’ve got another generation and another group that I call entrepreneurial personal producers. These are, you know, Airbnb hosts, Uber drivers, whatever Etsy sellers who are using an existing tech platform to create personal value.
And then after that you got nobody, you’ve got no employment. And I, and if you add up the numbers, I think what that ends up unfettered is a world in which, you know, 70, 80% of people are economically unemployable, which means that there is not anything they can do to pay for their existence on the planet, because all of this new tech and new value is being created by technology.
And what do you do in that sense? Unless you say 80% of the population should starve. Put my mountain top to die, which of course will happen cause of revolution. And then there’ll be the end of the world. Um, the only alternative is to take that new value that’s being created some way somehow by VAT or some other way and reallocated for the basic living needs of society.
Because as Peter Diamandis says, you eventually end up in a world of abundance where you will be able to have whether it’s effectively free energy or other kinds of things. And that’s, and that’s after this interregnum and our challenges to get there in one piece.
MPD: [00:55:57] Thank you. I think that’s a hugely valuable primer for a lot of people.
I think most people have heard the exponential change concept now, but have not connected all the dots for the longterm implications of it and the longterm with exponential changes in that far away. That’s, what’s so scary about it, but I want to take one last tangent before we sign off for the day. I’m a collector of gadgets.
I love drones. I have one wheels and segues. That’s kinda my thing. I like transportation type stuff. I’m going to float a rumor, take a little risk here. There’s a rumor that you’re a collector too. Can you confirm or deny the rumor that you collect trains?
David Rose: [00:56:33] Oh, I can confirm it. Uh, although I like you, I’m in transportation book.
Uh, so I have my segway and by the way, a segue is the perfect, you know, pandemic vehicle. I mean, I go to my bedroom all around. I’m sitting at my, at my segue, but yes, I do. I started out with model railroads and then. That’s a long story, but we don’t time for the remainder of this room. But suffice to say that I actually did a T it was a main stage Ted talk, by the way, on how I ended up with it.
Um, which can be seen if one looks long and hard in the floor, we’ll find it. I actually have caboose a full-size railroad caboose, um, up until New Hampshire, which lives in a commune with a dozen other cabooses. And when the moon is full on certain nights in the summer, we hook up an engine and you will see this caboose train going through the lake speech and then New Hampshire.
MPD: [00:57:18] That’s amazing. David, thank you for being on
David Rose: [00:57:21] today. It’s been my pleasure. It’s been a fascinating conversation. Absolutely.
MPD: [00:57:29] Wow. We covered a lot on this one. Huge. Thanks to David for joining us and sharing his wisdom. That was some awesome information and history about real estate and tech. I’m very excited to see what happens with us. REM I want to buy some buildings. If you liked what you heard, please look us up with a like, or a five-star review and feel free to share with a friend.
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The Real Estate Tech Revolution with David S. Rose, Founder & CEO of US Real Estate Market was originally published in @MPD on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.