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Sunday PropTech Review; 19th November 2017

POSTED BY   james
November 19, 2017

It was the WhatHouse Awards (the HouseBuilding oscars so they say!) this week here in the UK – what I always see as the beginning of a countdown to Christmas. Crazy how fast it has come around.

Before we get into the nitty and gritty of PropTech, I wanted to share three articles I have written recently, along with my partner in crime on the writing stakes Will Darbyshire, a very talented writer at TDMB, my marketing agency.

These are important as they lay out my thoughts in the PropTech sector at the minute around consolidating the industry and avoiding the egos of entreprenuership to come together. We have so many talented individuals amongst us and so many great companies doing cool things. Just think what could happen if they could merge. Anyway – take a look at these three:

1. The PropTech Hype Cycle; avoiding the trough of disillusionment

2. Why collaboration and consolidation are badly needed in PropTech

3. Differentiate or Die; The messy AirBnB ecosystem

Hopefully you get the theme……anyway……onwards…….

The first, an interesting insight into the world of Brandon Weber of VTS; not often you get people who are almost universally like. Brandon is one of them and has a great handle on the market – this is a great podcast to listen to this Sunday.

Secondly, our latest discussions around the world of PropTech. We had a cancellation and Gabrielle and Laura from Equiem stepped in with under 24hrs notice. Despite us giving them an easy time we still felt compelled to ask the ultimate start up question “how do you actually make money?” – really interesting insight here. Worth a listen


1. This week’s most shared PropTech article: Self-Driving Trucks May Be Closer Than They Appear

Some of you will know; I like this area for many reasons.

The financial incentive for trucking companies to invest in autonomous technology is far greater than that or normal cars. The man-hours, not to mention incredibly strict driving hour regulations, mean that if long-haul trucking companies can eliminate drivers, the potential for returns increases by a huge amount. Trucks will drive themselves into warehouses, be loaded up and then drive themselves to their destination. There is a predictable backlash from the drivers themselves, but the increased returns along with the tech industry’s determination to make this happen (it’s a good testing ground for cars because trucks drive in straight lines for an awfully long time) may make it hard for companies to resist.

Linked to this story is the razzmatazz around Tesla latest launches – electric trucks, not to mention the super car capable of going from 0-60 in 1.9 seconds. Worth a watch if nothing else.

2. Amazon on the cusp of opening cashier-less store

The retail property sector is underpressure from many areas, not least Amazon. They are set to open the doors of its first supermarket under the name Amazon Go. Notably, nobody will work there.

Amazon will use cameras and advanced shelf sensors to track what customers pick up, and accurately charge them for what they buy.

Apparently, they’re confident in their abilities to track individual shoppers but are still struggling with groups, like families. Technical difficulties have delayed the opening of the pilot store in Seattle, but Amazon has now reportedly started hiring construction workers to start the ball rolling.

3. Uber: Flying cars by 2020

This is a great article, as all Wired articles are. Uber has doubled down on previous announcements by stating that it will have ‘at least a few’ flying cars operating in L.A by 2020. Even the experts say that’s not unreasonable. Watch the 5-minute video below to have it all explained. It really is amazing innovation and proof that, sometimes, taking a moon shot pays off.

What I find interesting is why LA is being chosen for the test bed – before a complete roll out before the 2028 Olympics in the same city. I wrote an article about exactly where here.

4. 6 Ways VR Will Change The Workplace

Forbes bloody loves a listicle, heck, so do I, and this one raises some interesting points.

First, there’s the idea of empathy – VR has long been known for its ability to make people feel empathy, but in this case, it’s about empathising with clients.

Marketing teams, for example, can use VR to truly experience life inside the brand they are working with. Thus, they better understand the environment, the industry and the ethos. And then there’s a comment about young men dropping out of work. It seems that young men who play video games tend to work less in order to play more. As such, more and more are dropping out of the workplace. It is possible that the rise of VR gaming will only act to exasperate this issue. I can’t work out whether this is an astute observation or a tenuous attempt to turn a list of 5 into a list of 6?

5. Featured Article: Sprift: Unlocking data to address the Unacceptable 28% fall-through rate in hoUse sales

Within the property industry in England & Wales, it has long been accepted that there are inherent problems with the house buying and selling processes. The most recent review of these issues, announced by the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid (October 2017), looks to target certain key flaws – this 11 page whitepaper covers it all. And while main focus was given to the practice of Gazumping, a practice already outlawed in many other developed countries, including Scotland, there was also a side mention given to “examining digital solutions, involving putting more data online to speed up the home-buying process.” It is this idea of readily available data which will be discussed in this paper.

6. WeWork invests in Man-Made Waves

WeWork, the $20 billion office space giant, has made a somewhat leftfield investment in Wavegarden, a Spanish company developing technology to help surfers practice riding waves, away from any natural body of water.

It’s not the first bit of ultra-diversification we’ve seen from WeWork, recently they bought a private school as part of their WeGrow scheme to help teach kids the skills of entrepreneurship, and they also recently unveiled a shared housing brand called WeLive and a fitness brand called Rise by We.

As the article says, “WeWork’s Chief Executive Adam Neumann has explicitly said the company wants to expand beyond real estate.” Turns out that Mr Neumann is an enthusiastic surfer. This is incredibly worrying to me – not the surfing but the joined up Real Estate and Societal planning. Expect to hear much more on this from me soon.

7. Free E-book: 17 Thought Leadership Essays on The Future of Property

I really recommend downloading this ebook from Property Moose. By no means am I saying you should take what you read as gospel, these are opinion pieces, but there is some essential reading in here. Collaborative ebooks like this are so important for our industry because they make people stop and listen, for a moment, to the views and opinions of their peers.

8. Another tech company claims to be speeding up conveyancing

BPD, another new conveyancing platform, has been co-founded by former Apple employee, Lorenzo Tejada-Orrell, and Nick Miller, a solicitor and entrepreneur.

The search platform claims to have gathered over three hundred million data points which can be accessed in under 60 seconds, delivered straight to your inbox. I love innovation, efficiency, and speed, but the mnemonic I have to use to remember all of these company names is getting so long as to render itself counterproductive. There is no way that all of these companies can survive, they should be looking honestly at their chances and perhaps, as I’ve said before, consider teaming up with others to really push for success.

9. Microsoft HoloLens: RIBA Stirling Prize 2017 Finalists

Microsoft has really trumped the competition by teaming up with the prestigious RIBA Stirling Architecture Prize to create mixed reality renderings of the finalists’ designs. The architects were able to pull of holographic scaled downs renderings of their buildings, and even step inside and experience life within their designs before the buildings are any more than lines on paper.

10. Purplebricks chief executive now involved in AllAgents peace talks

What’s a Sunday Review without a little Purplebricks news? They just can’t stay out of the headlines. This time though, they’re showing some humility by entering into ‘peace talks’ with

The online agency giant has been in the process of suing AllAgents for publishing a plague of negative reviews from Purplebricks customers. AllAgents argue that they simply publish what the customers say, but Purplebricks say the reviews are inaccurate.

The Purplebricks page on is currently suspended after “repeated threats of legal action forcing the removal of negative reviews from our website”.

There is hope that an agreement will be met, but these talks have been going on, in Scotland, since September, so it’s clearly not going that smoothly.

With that now done, I am off to sort out a Sunday – have a good one yourself

James PS. One final article for you to get through. Antony Slumbers states “There really is no progress without innovation” and then prompts you to see if you can answer these 20 questions. Go on. Give it a go…….some good ones in there….

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