Jenny Wong: Technology & Real Estate

TS Ventures (Proptech)|05 Feb 2024


Senior Managing Director Jenny Wong shares how Tishman Speyer’s cross-departmental collaboration generates innovative solutions with AI and machine learning in proptech. Our vertically integrated platform allows for close collaboration between the venture capital team and real estate business, leading to innovative solutions and partnerships with startups like OpenSpace.

Real estate is an immense industry that, until recent years, hasn’t always been known for innovation. Tech in real estate is a relatively new concept and one that Tishman Speyer is continually working to push forward and innovate. Property technology (proptech) has been used for decades, but the trend of integrating technology into real estate investing practices has seen explosive growth in the last 20 years. As a global real estate company, Tishman Speyer is leading the shift in identifying, adopting and investing in companies that are integrating AI and machine learning in proptech while continuously seeking opportunities to decarbonize real estate. In this interview, Senior Managing Director Jenny Wong shares how early adoption, tech integration, and focused sustainability initiatives are reshaping the real estate landscape.

Tishman Speyer Proptech Venture Fund

Tishman Speyer’s Proptech Venture Fund platform is an end-to-end investment platform that allows us to invest early and back innovative companies in the real estate technology and information technology sectors. Our dedicated proptech capital investment fund makes it possible to back early-stage companies with proven technologies and disruptive business models, creating value for product stakeholders, start to finish. To date, we’ve backed 26 diverse, fast-growth companies in the technology space.

Revolutionizing proptech

Jenny Wong shares how Tishman Speyer’s commitment to proptech investments helps bring innovative solutions to market for eager investors ready to try something new.

“I think one of the things that entrepreneurs really find interesting about proptech and real estate is that real estate is a huge market, and it’s historically been underpenetrated by technology,” shares Wong. “We’re excited about the use of AI and machine learning as it’s applied to proptech.”

Proptech encompasses all of the software and technological tools used to optimize all aspects of buying, selling, managing, constructing, researching and marketing a property. Wong explains that Tishman Speyer takes a cross-functional approach to innovation, combining our in-house venture capital team, sustainability team and real estate business.

Integrating venture capital and sustainability

“One of the things that I think is really special about the Tishman Speyer platform is that we are vertically integrated,” says Wong. “We have our sustainability team that works closely with all of our regions and functions on sustainability, and those are our partners in the business when it comes to looking at climate-oriented technologies.”

This vertical integration is what sets Tishman Speyer apart in proptech, allowing us to explore new technology adoption and sustainable practices simultaneously. Wong emphasizes the practical aspects of this integration, sharing that we can take early-stage ideas from entrepreneurs and pilot them internally, allowing us to test the potential of new technologies. Wong describes this synergistic strategy as the “special sauce” that sets Tishman Speyer apart in its approach to proptech and sustainability.

OpenSpace: a real-life example

Wong shares how Tishman Speyer’s cross-functional teams partner to test new technologies in ongoing projects. OpenSpace, a cutting-edge, machine vision AI software for construction, is an excellent example of Tishman Speyer’s ability to tap into innovative proptech and pilot new technologies in sustainable ways. OpenSpace harnesses the power of AI for smarter building by taking real-life imagery and piecing it together to inform construction projects.

With OpenSpace, contractor teams affix cameras to their hard hats to capture images on site walk-throughs. OpenSpace software pulls all of the imagery of the construction site and stitches it together to create a comprehensive, 360-degree view of the site throughout its progress. This information is easily shared with all project stakeholders, from the general contractor to the architect, so all parties are working with the same data in real time.

Tishman Speyer first piloted OpenSpace for a project in San Francisco, and the results were groundbreaking. When our development team met with the project’s general contracting team to discuss the pilot, the initial response was, “Please don’t take this away!” Not only did the contractor’s team embrace the technology, but they found that it saved them time from manually capturing site data, which impacted their day-to-day in positive ways.

The successful San Francisco pilot wasn’t a stand-alone project. From there, we invested in OpenSpace and partnered with them to apply their technology across regions. We brought them to The Spiral in New York and have continued to partner on projects across all regions as they scaled.

Innovation embedded in projects

With Tishman Speyer, innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum—it’s a collaborative undertaking. Wong highlights the Mission Rock Project in San Francisco, a large-scale mixed-use project with the San Francisco Giants. The design and construction teams used the opportunity to explore new and innovative technologies throughout construction. From robotics to automation, virtual reality and multiple software solutions, the project has been an incredible testing ground for exploring new technologies.

Tishman Speyer’s approach to investing at the intersection of tech and real estate puts us at the forefront of our industry. Our engagement with technology, paired with our efforts to decarbonize real estate, set a precedent for other companies embracing AI and machine learning in proptech. With our in-house venture capital team, we’re able to invest early, supporting other leading proptech companies and creating solutions that continue to move our industry forward.

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