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Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With Lyric Co-Founder And President Joe Fraiman

This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles.

Joe Fraiman is the president and co-founder of Lyric, a real estate and hospitality startup that provides lodging to business travelers through partnerships with multifamily developers. Fraiman founded Lyric in 2014 with CEO Andrew Kitchell.

In April, the company announced a Series B round of $160M led by Airbnb, RXR Realty and Tishman Speyer, bringing its total funding to about $180M.

The son and grandson of real estate entrepreneurs, Fraiman began in software before joining the Ray Dalio-founded behemoth Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, as its 200th employee.

Fraiman, who relishes Lyric's intersection of technology and real estate, is a frequent speaker at real estate conferences around the country. He studied computer science and philosophy at Dartmouth and New York University.

Joe Fraiman and his family

Bisnow: What is your favorite part of your job? 

Fraiman: Bringing all-new ideas into the world. I’m fortunate to get to do this both with our real estate partners, where Lyric represents a meaningful innovation in their portfolio, and also internally with our team, when we build out new solutions to help our partners and guests.

Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?

Fraiman: I moved to San Diego because it was beautiful, and soon found that the only software engineering jobs were at big defense companies. I joined one, and it was a real-life version of the movie Office Space, but without the comedy.

Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do? 

Fraiman: The marrying of real estate, technology and finance has been what I’ve always been drawn to throughout my career, and I’m truly living my dream job right now at Lyric creating an entirely new category of accommodations, where we get to create delightful experiences for our guests, and in turn, be the best-in-class option for real estate professionals looking to understand how they can amplify their portfolios. If I wasn’t in commercial real estate, I’d likely be looking for other ways to leverage technology to solve problems in the real world. 

Bisnow: What deal are you proudest of? 

Fraiman: Our Series B fundraise, which we closed early in 2019. We were able to bring together Airbnb, the top hospitality company in the world and the very first to see the trend of experience-rich travel coming into play, along with top real estate investors like Tishman Speyer, RXR Realty and Barry Sternlicht, and deeply respected venture capital partners like NEA, Fifth Wall and Obvious Ventures. It was a huge team effort, but there’s no syndicate I’d rather have on our team. 

Lyric President and co-founder Joe Fraiman and Lyric CEO and co-founder Andrew Kitchell

Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?

Fraiman: My first startup, Tastemaker. I was the CEO, and many of my friends and family asked to invest. We ran it for a few years and it ultimately paved the way for Lyric, but as a business it wasn’t successful. I had to lay off the team and have a lot of hard conversations with friends, family and investors. I learned a lot along the way, but it was pretty tough personally.

Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?

Fraiman: Long, recurring meetings!

Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?

Fraiman: As a startup founder with two kids under the age of 2, I don't have too many extravagances these days. But when I do, it’s mountain biking trips. I made it out to Spain last year for 10 days of mountain biking in the Pyrenees, which was absolutely amazing. Other trips have included Moab, Sedona, Central California, Alaska, Washington state, Tahoe and Whistler. Hope to get another one in soon.

Bisnow: What motivates you? 

Fraiman: Building the future. So many of my friends are in fields where they’re doing the same things that have been done forever. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I love pushing the envelope and trying to do something new. 

Bisnow: What advice do you wish you got when you started in CRE? 

Fraiman: This is a relationship business. Find mentors and build your network.

Bisnow: What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?

Fraiman:  Quitting my hedge fund job in 2011 and moving west to San Francisco. I didn’t know anyone out here and didn’t have a job lined up, but I knew I wanted to start a technology-driven, innovation-oriented business, and this was where that was happening.

Lyric CEO and co-founder Andrew Kitchell and Lyric President and co-founder Joe Fraiman

Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?

Fraiman: Our new baby girl, Ayla Sol. She just turned five months and is starting to sleep through the night, but definitely not every night. Also, the challenges and opportunities of scaling a business by hundreds of percents a year.

Bisnow: What is your favorite place to visit?

Fraiman: Hard to pick just one. Italy, Croatia and South Africa have all been pretty amazing. Honestly though, my wife and I always love coming home to Marin County, just about 30 minutes outside of Lyric’s offices in downtown San Francisco.

Bisnow: Outside of work, what are you most passionate about?

Fraiman: Food. I love to cook (and eat), and have a particular fondness for making Texas barbecue at home.

Bisnow: What CRE trend do you think will have the most impact over the next few years?

Fraiman: The hospitality layer of society coming to affect all forms of real estate. We’re riding that wave at Lyric with residential, but it’s also pervasive in office, industrial, self-storage, etc.

Bisnow: What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Fraiman: I grew up in a small fishing town in rural Alaska.

Bisnow: What do you want your legacy to be?

Fraiman: I’d hope to have Lyric grow into the company that lives up to our mission of empowering a more creative and connected world through the spaces we build, the way we thoughtfully engage communities in the neighborhoods and buildings where we operate, and the care in which we treat our guests and our real estate partners. We’ll have done our jobs when we’ve built Lyric into a beloved brand the defines this new category of flexible accommodations. I see us playing a significant role in supporting the ways people everywhere live, work and travel in the future. We’re well on our way!