Most hotels still make you wait at the front desk to check in, receive your key card and confirm your payment by verifying with an ID. Los Angeles-based hospitality startup Jurny wants to make that process faster and easier -- for both the traveler and hotel .
"The idea of Jurny was to really consolidate this very fragmented space into a one-stop solution from both the guest standpoint and the operator's standpoint, because it's fragmented from both sides," Jurny CEO and co-founder Luca Zambello said, adding he sees the hospitality industry as one of the last to automate.
The startup provides software and services to hotel and short-term rental operators in an effort to streamline their operations and make guest service available from a single dashboard. Travelers can do everything from change the temperature in their room to unlock their door from their app.
Hotel and rental operators -- many of whom were hard hit by the pandemic -- can automate pricing, cleaning services and monitoring systems from Jurny's dashboard.
On Monday, the startup announced it raised $9.5 million in funding, led by the Santa Monica venture firm Mucker Capital, in addition to Okapi Venture Capital and SaaS Ventures.
Jurny CEO Luca Zambello
Zambello said he created the company because he wanted to provide travelers with an "Uber type of experience." It's currently available only in Apple's App Store and Google Play.
The 33-year-old Zambello is regarded as one of the early pioneers of Airbnb's platform, building a house-renting business on the app. He said the experience helped him see the need for a more streamlined, on-demand hospitality service that could make staying in hotels easier for guests and operators.
Jurny works on a revenue-share model. The company receives a percentage of the hotel's earnings, based on the package an operator chooses and the services it needs.
Zambello said the company will use the new funds to expand, develop more features and make integration easier for independent property owners and hotels.
So far, the app hosts New York City's Blue Moon Hotel, Mexico's Casa De La O and Nashville's 121 Hotel, among others.
Fifth Wall, the fast-growing real estate tech venture firm, revealed Monday that it has scored $140 million for its Early-Stage Climate Technology Fund. That's up from $116.8 million earlier this month, when the firm last disclosed its fundraising efforts for the climate investment vehicle in an amended SEC filing.
In December, Fifth Wall announced it had brought in prolific clean-tech investor Greg Smithies to head its efforts to "decarbonize the built world." That's when the firm went public about its plan to raise at least $200 million to invest in climate tech. The firm said today that it has brought in another partner to co-lead its climate team: Peter Gajdoš, the San Francisco-based former head of venture investments for wealth management group IPM.
Last year, Fifth Wall co-founder Brendan Wallace predicted that the real estate industry would one day become "the biggest spender on climate tech for no other reason than its contribution to the carbon problem."
Fifth Wall declined to comment publicly on the fund when reached for comment last week by dot.LA.
With backing from Montreal-based Ivanhoé Cambridge, which holds tens of billions of dollars in real-estate assets, Fifth Wall's climate fund led a $16 million investment in Sealed earlier this year alongside actor Robert Downey Jr's climate fund. Other real estate investors in Fifth Wall's climate fund include Equity Residential, Hudson Pacific Properties, Invitation Homes and Kimco Realty Corporation, Fifth Wall announced Monday.
New York-based Sealed is on "a quest to retrofit the U.S.' existing residential building stock and help them run more efficiently," Smithies wrote in June. Part of that equation involves getting homeowners aboard the heat pump train.
The technology could help American households considerably slash carbon emissions by 142 million metric tons annually, according to research released by Carbon Switch.Sealed is one of at least three startups backed by Smithies in recent months, per the investor's LinkedIn. Others include Austin-based 3D-printed buildings startup Icon, which announced a $207 million late-August raise, and Emeryville-based pea milk company Ripple Foods. It disclosed a more than $57 million raise around the same time.
This story has been updated to include the latest fundraising figures from Fifth Wall.
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The startup, founded by former Zillow executives Austin Allison and Spencer Rascoff, turns luxurious homes such as this vast, seaside Malibu estate into limited liability companies. It then splits them into fractional shares, selling to up to eight different buyers apiece. Pacaso takes a 12% cut of the purchase price and charges members $99 per month each to handle everything from furnishing to lawn care. Partial homeowners can divvy the time they spend on the property using the startup's apps and website.
The latest round values Pacaso at $1.5 billion, up from the $1 billion valuation the real estate tech startup hit in March. Softbank led the deal, with participation from other firms including Greycroft, Crosscut, Fifth Wall, Global Founders Capital, LGBTQ-focused syndicate Gaingels, and Rascoff's fund, 75 and Sunny. Rascoff also co-founded this very website, along with Hotwire.com.
Since it launched just shy of a year ago, Pacaso has raised more than $215 million. The funds have fueled its expansion into 25 destinations, such as Miami and Aspen. Next up, the firm is charting a path into Europe, starting with Spain later this year.
"In January, we were about 30 people. Today we're well over 120 people," Allison told dot.LA, adding that in the last quarter 2 million people visited the company's website. "Our annualized revenue run rate is now north of $330 million, and that's from zero one year ago." Allison declined to share the number of homes Pacaso has sold to date and estimates Pacaso's customer base is "in the hundreds."
Pacaso's debut coincided with a second-home market boom, as white-collar workers seized on pandemic-era remote work policies and friendly mortgage rates. But amid its growth, the startup has drawn ire from many newfound neighbors, who argue the company is building a "glorified timeshare" business in their community.
A petition against Pacaso's presence in Sonoma neighborhoods, known for their elaborate vineyards, has garnered 2,969 signatures. Its organizers, Stop Pacaso Now, call the startup "the newest way for Silicon Valley bros and venture capital vultures to make a quick buck at your expense." The group warns, "You may not realize the house next door sold to Pacaso until you see a revolving cast of guests pulling up every couple of days or weeks."
Stop Pacaso Now did not respond to dot.LA's request for comment.
Pacaso says it offers "anything but" timeshares, and it's currently waging a legal fight over local timeshare rules in California's wine country. St. Helena City Attorney Ethan Walsh cautioned Pacaso in February that "it appears to be operating, facilitating, and selling timeshares under state law and the City's code." He added, "Simply calling them co-ownership arrangements does not change that fact."
Allison says that Pacaso empowers "more people to realize their second-home dream," while filling properties that would otherwise sit unoccupied for most of the year.
"We're consolidating demand. We're taking second-home owners who would otherwise be competing in the median tier and we're moving them into the luxury tier, right? It's better to have six or eight families owning one luxury second home than to have those same six or eight families buying up six or eight separate median-priced homes."
Allison says Pacaso will be good for neighborhoods and local businesses. Startups catering to vacationers such as Airbnb have driven up local rent prices and contributed to housing shortages, according to researchers at the University of Cologne. The neighbors fighting back argue their communities will experience a similar outcome.
Pacaso's founders, however, are so convinced their service is innovative that they baked the essence right into the name, evoking the legacy of experimental painter Pablo Picasso.
Pacaso is just one of many companies that have been launched by former Zillow staffers in recent years. They include Mill Valley-based Glassdoor, a site for posting employee reviews and candid assessments of current and former employers, and San Francisco-based Divvy Homes, which aims to convert renters into homeowners.
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