Editor’s note: Get this weekly recap of TechCrunch news that any startup can use by email every Saturday morning (7am PT), just subscribe here.
Commercial real estate, the traditional heart of most cities, may have lost its reason to exist in the last few months. The world is about to find out what the situation is as more locations start to reopen.
Get your Free Digital Adoption Certificate
First up in our ongoing coverage of the topic, Connie Loizos caught up with a couple proptech investors this week for TechCrunch, who saw existing trends accelerating — with many medically focused additions.
Brendan Wallace of Fifth Wall is looking for more aggressive pickup of smart tech in general, along the lines of what you already see in some other countries. “He notes sensors that can determine how many people are in a room or pass through a turnstile. He points to facial recognition tech that can help keep points of physical contact to a minimum. He imagines that more companies might embrace robots to patrol buildings and, possibly, to clean them, too.”
Darren Bechtel of Brick and Mortar saw tech remaking the construction site, with growing practices like using large-scale pre-fabricated components: “If you’re limited by how many people can work in the field, and you have to put in controls for people not working on top of each other, the question becomes: how can you do the work in a more controlled environment, with a next-gen HVAC system [to purify the air] and markings on the floor?…. People are now saying, ‘How much can we prepare off-site?’”
Buildings are also going to be focused on health features, Connie wrote. “[B]oth Wallace and Bechtel mentioned advanced air purifiers and air handling units used to recondition and circulate air as part of a heating, ventilating and air-conditioning plan. Both say it will likely become a growing area of interest for building owners and developers.”
What about beyond the buildings? A few writers here put together some thoughts in a post for Extra Crunch. Here’s Danny Crichton’s view from Brooklyn:
Few of us can live in the dreary confines of a suburban enclave our entire workweek. And so I expect to see a revitalization of the classic Main Street clusters that once dotted towns across America as people appreciate the close proximity of amenities that they need throughout their day and remote work makes it possible to skip the commute to the central business district.
It’s not going to be a simple transition, of course. The built environment alone will probably take decades to fully transition. But the spirit of Jane Jacobs lives on and will move beyond the downtown core neighborhoods she observed to spread to medium and perhaps even small towns across the country and throughout the world.
If you want more on the topic, check out our recent investor survey with six other top proptech investors from late March (for subscribers).
Just want to settle down at home and get to work? Check out Darrell Etherington’s TechCrunch guide to setting up a pro-grade videoconference studio.
The $100M ARR club continues to grow, despite everything
When Alex Wilhelm rejoined TechCrunch late last year, he kicked things off with a list of companies that he called “the $100M ARR club” to signify unicorns that were also generating a lot of revenue. It was a clever way of organizing which of the hundreds of highly valued companies heading towards IPOs were most set up for success, and our readers agreed.
But, with entire market categories whipsawed by the pandemic, it has been hard to find companies willing to share numbers lately. He still found a few, as he wrote up for Extra Crunch this week: ActiveCampaign, Recorded Future and ON24. Here’s a vignette from the CEO of ActiveCampaign:
While we had the CEO’s attention, TechCrunch wanted to know if ActiveCampaign was taking incoming fire from COVID-19 and its related economic and labor disruptions. As some other SMB-focused software companies have told us, the answer is no. Here’s [Jason] VandeBoom:
We anticipate continued growth in 2020 and are already seeing further acceleration to support this. The past four months have been the best in company history and we’ve seen monthly trials double in that timeframe and new customer acquisition numbers at 4500, 5500, 6000 and 7000 respectively from January to April.
He did hedge those results a little, adding that while his firm has “seen some acceleration from COVID-19 and the digital transformation that it is inspiring,” the CEO is more convinced that “the need for customer experience is what is fueling the majority of this growth.”
This week in China trade news….
The already basic trade agreement between the Trump administration and the Chinese government from last year looks ready to blow up; the administration banned selling more tech to Huawei; TSMC plans to open a factory in Arizona following urging from the US government; Foxconn profits crashed… Danny Crichton has a clear takeaway on TechCrunch for startups about the latest headlines:
[T]he world of semiconductors, of internet infrastructure, of the tech ties that have bound the U.S. and China together for decades — they are frayed and are almost gone. It’s a new era in supply chains and trade, and an open world for new approaches to these huge existing industries.
If your company is not already planning for a more chaotic, multi-polar world than what most of us can remember living through, it may already be too late.