Proptech Company Pivots To Metaverse Development

Swivel co-founder and CEO, Scott Harmon (iStock, LinkedIn)

True to its name, Austin-based proptech company Swivel is poised to pull off a grand eighty.

The company, which creates digital twins of offices for remote viewing and floor planning, laid off an undisclosed number of staff this week as it shifts operations to focus on designing commercial spaces for the metaverse, said co-founder and CEO Scott Harmon. The real Agreement.

Swivel will “help customers build and deploy” digital office and retail buildings in popular “public” virtual worlds like Decentraland and in the myriad of private “walled gardens” that companies like Facebook and Microsoft are building for their own employees and customers.

“We believe this potentially represents the biggest generational shift in the commercial real estate asset category in 50 years,” Harmon said. “Fundamentally, we think this is a new asset class. People might say I’m hyperbolic, but I really don’t mean it.

The company laid off sales and marketing staff associated with the legacy business earlier this week, and it has started hiring for Metaverse development. Harmon declined to share details, but said the number of layoffs and new hires would be roughly equal. No executives were fired.

The company’s website lists 24 employees, including four “architectural designers” and two “technical artists.” The company will expand its new sales and marketing team later this year, Harmon said.

Swivel’s pivot is significant as a tech firm rooted fundamentally in physical real estate is moving fully into virtual real estate. The digital twins produced by the company have usually had a counterpart in the real world. Next June, he will design virtual spaces in an emerging economic sphere with unproven commercial prospects.

While companies have had success building virtual offices for their own employees, no one has made money renting them, and it’s unclear what products retailers will be able to sell from virtual storefronts.

Swivel’s move could signal the arrival of other players into the brick-and-mortar world. His clients include Brookfield, Tishman Speyer, Colliers, JLL and numerous public REITs.

The company, which was founded in 2017, will continue to offer digital twin services to existing customers, but all new hires and customer acquisitions will be on the metaverse side. “Our efforts for our new customers, our growth initiatives and our employees will focus on these new opportunities,” Harmon said.

The company has raised an undisclosed sum to make the change and is currently beta testing its new services, with plans to roll them out fully in June, Harmon said.

Swivel’s backers include Floodgate Fund, Breyer Capital and First Round Capital, leading Silicon Valley-based tech funds that have invested in Lyft, Warby Parker and Spotify.

Serhant, the New York-based tech-focused brokerage firm, said this week that it would create its own exclusive metaverse for employees and agents called UNIVERS, following in the footsteps of eXp Realty, a brokerage that handles all agent training and back-office functions. in its own virtual seat.

Laura J. Boyer