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A Year After Merger, VTS Discusses Future, New SoCal Clients

A year after its $300M merger with Hightower, VTS continues its upward trajectory. The company is growing in the Southern California commercial real estate market with new clients such as LBA Realty, Rexford Industrial, Griffin Capital and Worthe Real Estate Group.

Following the merger, the CRE technology and software company that provides a platform for brokers and landlords to better manage their portfolios has surpassed 7B SF of office, retail and industrial space being managed on the platform worldwide.

VTS co-founder Nick Romito discusses state of VTS a year after $300M merger with Hightower.
VTS co-founder and CEO Nick Romito

In Southern California, users are managing about 355M SF of commercial real estate and the number of clients has doubled, company officials said. 

Other milestones post-merger include the expansion into 28 countries, more than 180 new clients and an 87% global user base increase.

Bisnow spoke with VTS co-founder and CEO Nick Romito about how VTS is faring. 

How has the merger impacted the company?

We have a lot of really great people to work with from the managerial level to the junior folks. It is one really strong team now.  

I would say if you look at the gaps at either [company] VTS felt very strongly that we had a stronger sales team but we felt that Hightower had a really strong accounts management team. 

There was a gap that we were both filling in doing this merger and that existed all over the place to be candid. [Hightower] had certain features on their platform that we liked better and admired. And we had features that we know they admired. So bringing these two companies together and bringing all those features set in one platform is a really powerful thing for the user.

The market has reacted extremely well. You had a nice part of the market that was using two systems to do their job and they did not like it. So this is something they really pushed for.

How has it impacted the CRE industry? What kind of feedback did you receive? Was there any kind of backlash?

We didn’t see any backlash but there were pros and cons to both platforms. It gave us the ability to really take a step back and be honest with ourselves as to what part of either of these platforms would you improve if you could and go back to see if the user experience was really the best in the market.

By us putting our product and engineering teams [and] accounts management teams together, we were able to really deliver that customer experience that never really existed in a single platform. It really is the best of both worlds.

We were hearing all the time from customers and prospective customers, the ideal scenario for them would be if the two companies could come together as one so it would make our decision a lot easier.

And the result for us is now we have 7B SF being managed on VTS.

Founders of VTS and Hightower
VTS Chief Technology Officer Karl Baum, Hightower Chief Product Officer Donald DeSantis, VTS CEO Nick Romito, Hightower CEO Brandon Weber, VTS Chief Revenue Officer Ryan Masiello and Hightower Chief Technology Officer Niall Smart at the time of the merger.

Looking back at the beginning of the merger, is VTS on track to where you all want to be?

If you look at the speed at which we are still growing, after the merger, it’s been exponential growth. We are adding 300M SF to our platform every month. That is the result of these two companies coming together to develop a truly world-class product and team.

The market is seeing that clearly. The result is we are growing faster than we were. It’s been a huge success for the customer base and us.

Generally speaking, what is tech's role in CRE?

Our job is to ... look forward and not backward. We have to look at what market shifts are happening that we could prepare our customers for with technology. 

One of the biggest ones we are seeing the market shift from a property-centric model to a tenant-centric one. 

It used to be, “We have the shiniest lobby in the world so come to my building.” But now, it is all about the customer experience. How do I get my customers or tenants into my building in a way that is at a very low friction and costs for them?

There is no technology platform to help facilitate that. We’ve built a new product called Tenant Relationship Management, or TRM, that helps them do that.

So as an owner for the first time, they could really understand the health of their tenant and where they sit in their portfolio.

What is the future? Where do you see VTS in the short term and long term?

Our goal is to be the central operating system for commercial real estate. We are the place that you go to not only look at your deals but where deals happen. If it's not on VTS, it didn't happen. Which means you, your partners, your brokers, everyone logs on to VTS every day to understand what's happening in your building or your market. 

That's why we get up every single day and go to work. That is a world that doesn't exist today but we are getting closer every day.