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NAR’s investment arm launches real estate technology incubator, REach

NAR now seeks the diamonds in the rough when it comes to real estate technology, using the Second Century Ventures to incubate real estate startups of tomorrow.

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104 year old trade group launches tech incubator

The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) investment arm, Second Century Ventures was officially launched, branded, and began partnering with technology companies that serve the real estate industry, operating exclusively on returns, and not member dues. The goal of innovation has been lauded by other industries, but the organization was only partnering with established companies like DocuSign, rather than the budding ideas and bootstrap startups that could dominate the space with the right money and connections.

Enter REach™, the new real estate technology incubator which accepts companies at all stages of growth, noting that the accelerator program “will be particularly useful to those just now turning a focus to the real estate ecosystem,” hinting that it will not necessarily operate like the traditional startup accelerators most imagine where 20 somethings sit around in hoodies dreaming up iPhone apps.

The program will accept six to 10 companies per year, and is accepting applications through January 10, 2013. The REach™ program is nine months long and will begin in March 2013.

REach compared to other programs

In a statement, the newly formed organization explains that participating companies “will interact with some of the most highly regarded executives, digital entrepreneurs, and practitioners in the industry who run, manage or have sold companies with a combined multi-billion dollars of revenues in real estate alone.”

NAR emphasizes that “while other Accelerator programs provide some similar functions and many significant benefits, REach™’s differentiating factor is a focus on education, mentorship and market exposure around access to the trillion-dollar real estate market and the strategic expertise NAR can bring. In the process, NAR will also bring added value to its membership and continue to fulfill its core mission by identifying those technologies, resources and companies that will most benefit the industry.”

“This venture truly represents a win for all parties,” said NAR CEO Dale Stinton. “It provides our members with cutting-edge resources that have already been vetted by their association; it creates solutions for the industry, consumers and investors that will improve all stages of the home-buying and selling process; and gives these companies an unprecedented opportunity. And it’s the first time an organization like NAR is behind an accelerator like REach™, which makes it that much more powerful.”

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. beachtowne

    November 9, 2012 at 10:37 am

    April Fool! Hilarious.

  2. Joshua Dorkin

    November 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    According to the NARreach website, “Participants will be responsible for providing a nominal marketing fee and small percentage of common stock.  Contact us for more details.”  
     
    Can you guys provide details on that?  
     
    Seems like an important detail not to make public . . . are we talking a few hundred bucks here or are they asking companies that enter the incubator program to pony up serious cash?

    • AGBeat

      November 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      @Joshua Dorkin we’ve reached out to them and plan a potential follow up story – good catch!

      • Joshua Dorkin

        November 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm

        @AGBeat Until then, were you able to get a number?

        • AGBeat

          November 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm

          @Joshua Dorkin We’re in touch with them, obtaining it now. We’ll post it here before we run a story so you have it. 🙂

        • AGBeat

          November 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm

          @Joshua Dorkin (aka, we’ll post it when we get it) 🙂

        • Joshua Dorkin

          November 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm

          @AGBeat I thought you were just holding out on me. 😉

        • AGBeat

          November 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm

          @Joshua Dorkin never!

        • ConstanceFreedman

          November 13, 2012 at 10:32 am

          @Joshua Dorkin  @AGBeat Joshua – we LOVE Bigger Pockets!  Please give us a call if you are interested in exploring whether there is a fit for the REach(TM) accelerator.  We would love to hear from you.  
          …Constance Freedman, Managing Director of REach(TM)

        • Joshua Dorkin

          November 13, 2012 at 5:59 pm

          Hey  @ConstanceFreedman   I appreciate the message and I’m glad you’re a fan of BiggerPockets!  We do our best to run a great website.  Thanks for taking notice!
           
          That said, I’m not certain that we’re looking for an accelerator at the moment, but I’d certainly be up to connect with you, as we all know the importance of knowing your colleagues.  Feel free to reach me on the usual networks (including ours) or by email – josh at biggerpockets.
           
          Regards.

  3. TBoard

    November 10, 2012 at 8:19 am

    NAR has a spectacular bad record with all things technological.  I am probably the only member who feels this way but I would be less trusting of a product recommended by NAR than a product that was recommended by my friends or clients.

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Tech News

Degree holders are shifting tech hubs and affordability

(TECH NEWS) Tech hubs are shifting as degree holders move, but it’s causing some other issues and raising some interesting questions about the future of jobs.

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degree city

Bloomberg recently announced their annual “Brain” Indexes. The indexes are an annual reckoning of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) jobs and degree holders. The “Brain Concentration Index” approximates the number of people working full time in computer, engineering, and science jobs (including math and architecture.) It measures the median earnings for people in those jobs. It also counts how many people have a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field, or an advanced degree of any kind. It blends those things together to determine how “brainy” a city is.

Since they started in 2016, Boulder, CO has been at the top of the list. This year it’s followed by San Jose, CA, which many people might expect to be at the top. Many of the more surprising cities, like Ann Arbor, MI, Ithaca, NY, and even Lawrence, KS, are bolstered by the presence of a strong university.

It’s an interesting methodology. It’s worth noting that anyone with an advanced degree, whether it’s an MBA, a law degree, or a Ph.D. in literature, contributes to which city is a “tech hub.” It’s also worth noting how expensive many of these places are to live.

If you follow this kind of national data collection at all, you may also know that Boulder is one of the least-affordable cities in the country. So is the San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara metro area, with a median home price of 1.25 million dollars and a median household income of $117,474. (That means that the average mortgage is more than half of the average paycheck). However many people tech hubs like San Jose and San Francisco attract, they’re also hemorrhaging talent. Every day, 8 Californians move to Austin. Of the people who stay, more than half are thinking of moving.

They aren’t doing that for fun. As much flak as Californians get for gentrifying places like Austin, they’re being megagentrified out of their own homes. As salaries rise and CEO gigs attract the wealthy (and turn them into the Uberwealthy), the people who wait on tables or teach their children can’t afford to stay there anymore.

Speaking of people leaving, Bloomberg also measured what they call “brain drain,” the flow of advanced degree holders out of cities. They pair that with a decline in white-collar jobs and a decline in STEM pay to come up with their annual list. It includes places like Lebanon, PA and Kahului, HI.

All in all, it’s interesting information. But there are other factors at work that it can’t speak to. What does wage stagnation in the U.S. mean for the flow of education workers? If San Jose and San Francisco can be tech hubs based on the number of people with degrees, but people are still fleeing, what does that say about rankings like these? What human stories get lost in the shuffle? And is “tech hub” even something a city wants to be if that means running out of teachers (or making them sleep in garages)? Where does the next generation of tech hub workers come from?

Knowing the people behind the numbers makes it clear just what a mixed bag this is. Maybe we need more tech hubs like Lawrence, Kansas. Or maybe we need rent control. Or maybe we need to embrace remote work. Maybe there are no answers. As interesting as data like this is, there’s something sort of wistful about it, too.

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Tech News

New Apple Watch is awesome, but past watches could be just as good for cheaper

(TECH NEWS) The Apple Watch Series 6 is a ridiculous display of self-flattery—but that doesn’t mean people won’t line up to buy it in droves.

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Apple Watch being worn on wrist showing weather for Montreal.

The Apple Watch has been the subject of everything from speculation to ridicule during its relatively short tenure on this planet. While most have nothing but praise for the most recent iteration, that praise comes at a cost: The Apple Watch’s ghost of Christmas past.

Or, to put it more literally, the fact that the Apple Watch’s prior version and accompanying variations are too good—and, at this point, too comparatively cheap—to warrant buying the most recent (and expensive) option.

Sure, the Apple Watch Series 6 has a bevy of health features—a sensor that can take an ECG and a blood oxygen test, to name a couple—but the Series 5 has almost everything else that makes the Apple Watch Series 6 “notable.” According to Gear Patrol, even the Series 4 is comparable if you don’t mind forgoing the option to have the Apple Watch’s screen on all of the time.

More pressingly, Gear Patrol points out, is the availability of discount options from Apple. The Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple Watch SE are, at this point, budget options that still do the job for smart watch enthusiasts.

Not to mention any Apple Watch can run updates can utilize Apple’s Fitness Plus subscription—another selling point that, despite its lucrative potential, doesn’t justify buying a $400 watch when a cheaper option is present.

It’s worth noting that Apple is no stranger to outdoing themselves retroactively. Every year, Apple’s “new” MacBook, iPhone, and iPad models are subjected to extensive benchmarking by every tech goatee around. And the conclusion is usually that buying a generation or two behind is fine—and, from a financial perspective, smart.

And yet, as the holidays roll around or the initial drop date of a new product arrives, Apple invariably goes through inventory like a tabby cat through unattended butter.

The Apple Watch is already a parody of itself, yet its immense popularity and subtle innovation has promoted it through several generations and a few spin-off iterations. And that’s not even including the massive Apple-specific watch band market that appears to have popped up as a result.

Say what you will about the Series 6; when the chips are on the table, my money’s on the consumers making the same decisions they always make.

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Tech News

Microsoft acquires powerful AI language processor GPT-3, to what end?

(TECH NEWS) This powerful AI language processor sounds surprisingly human, and Microsoft has acquired rights to the code. How much should we worry?

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Code on screen, powering AI technology

The newly-released GPT-3 is the most insane language model in the NLP (natural language processor) field of machine learning. Developed by OpenAI, GPT-3 can generate strikingly human-like text for a vast range of purposes like bots and advertising, to poetry and creative writing.

While GPT-3 is accessible to everyone, OpenAI has expressed concerns over using this AI tech for insidious purposes. For this reason, Microsoft’s new exclusive license on the GPT-3 language model may be a tad worrisome.

First of all, for those unfamiliar with the NPL field, software engineer, and Youtuber, Aaron Jack, provides a detailed overview of GPT-3’s capabilities and why everyone should be paying attention.

Microsoft’s deal with OpenAI should come as little surprise since OpenAI uses the Azure cloud platform to access enough information to train their models.

Microsoft chief technology officer Kevin Scott announced the deal on the company blog this week: “We see this as an incredible opportunity to expand our Azure-powered AI platform in a way that democratizes AI technology, enables new products, services and experiences, and increases the positive impact of AI at Scale,” said Scott.

“Our mission at Microsoft is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, so we want to make sure that this AI platform is available to everyone – researchers, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, businesses – to empower their ambitions to create something new and interesting.”

OpenAI has assured that Microsoft’s exclusive license does not affect the general public’s access to the GPT-3 model. The difference is Microsoft will be able to use the source code to combine with their products.

While OpenAI needs Azure to train these models, handing over the source code to another party is, to put it mildly, tricky. With the earlier GPT-2 model, OpenAI initially refused publishing the research out of fear it could be used to generate fake news and propaganda.

Though the company found there was no evidence to suggest the GPT-2 was utilized this way and later released the information, handing the key of the exponentially more powerful iteration to one company will undoubtedly hold ramifications in the tech world.

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