Did you know that the National Association of Realtors has a venture capital arm called Second Century Ventures? Me neither, until I met managing director Constance Freeman (formerly of Cue Ball) at the Chicago Shindig on Monday night.
Apparently the 1.2 million member organization first dabbled in VC by making one-off investments in companies like Move Inc. (online real estate), SentriLock (a realtor lockbox) and ZipLogix (real estate forms software). It then formed Second Century Ventures in 2007, and made an investment in commercial listings platform ePropertyData.
Unfortunately for SCV, the group’s lead managing director soon left to run ePropertyData, leaving the entire endeavor in a state of limbo. But it staffed back up last fall, and has $20 million with which to invest (plus another $30m implicitly promised if the right deals come along).
“The goal is to make investments in real estate-related technology companies that push forward innovation in the industry, and which can help our members,” Freeman explains.
Tangential side note: Am I the only one amused by how NAR radio ads emphasize the “o” in realtors (real-tours)? I just find it odd, and say so most every-time I hear such an ad while driving. My wife just rolls her eyes…