Longtime Ford Motor exec sells Venetian Islands estate for $18M

Longtime Ford Motor exec sells Venetian Islands estate for $18M

Jacques Nasser and 445-441 East Rivo Alto Miami Beach (Courtesy of Dora Puig / Luxe Living Realty)

Jacques Nasser and 445-441 East Rivo Alto Miami Beach (Courtesy of Dora Puig / Luxe Living Realty)

Lebanese-Australian business executive and philanthropist Jacques Nasser sold his waterfront Venetian Islands property for $18 million.

Nasser, former Ford Motor Company president and CEO, and former chairman of mining company BHP Billiton, sold the double-home at 445 to 441 East Rivo Alto Drive in Miami Beach, according to the Multiple Listing Service. The buyer is undisclosed and the property has yet to clear records.

The sale is one of the most expensive to close on the Venetian Islands in recent years.

The property includes two houses, each with a pool, with a total of nine bedrooms, seven bathrooms and one half-bath. Nasser paid $5 million for the 0.6-acre property in 2005. The homes were originally built in 1947 and 1956, records show.

The property hit the market in July for $19.9 million with Dora Puig of Luxe Living Realty. Douglas Kinsley of Fortune International Realty represented the buyer. Puig and Kinsley could not immediately be reached for comment.

Nasser worked for Ford for the majority of his career, from 1968 to 2001. He was chairman of BHP from 2010 to 2017, and serves on the boards of 21st Century Fox and Turkish conglomerate KOC Holdings, according to the Financial Review.

High-end waterfront homes have been selling throughout the pandemic. Earlier this month, spec home developers Eduardo Otaola, Rodrigo Diaz and Eduardo Lucca sold the waterfront mansion at 941 North Venetian Drive for $13.6 million.

In June, the former CEO of Bolthouse Farms listed his newly built Venetian Islands estate for $34 million.


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Firms dangle big bucks to lure employees out of big cities

Firms dangle big bucks to lure employees out of big cities

Stripe CEO Patrick Collison (JD Lasica via Wikipedia; Unsplash)

Stripe CEO Patrick Collison (JD Lasica via Wikipedia; Unsplash)

In an increasingly work-from-home world, those with the means have also been moving out of big cities in favor of roomier, perhaps more suburban confines.

Now, electronic payment company Stripe is offering employees $20,000 if they move out of cities including San Francisco, New York and Seattle, according to Bloomberg.

But even that comes at a price.

Employees who take the offer will see their base salaries cut by as much as 10 percent, according to the report. Other companies have tried to lure workers with similar deals.

Like Stripe, workspace technology company VMware has offered workers big money upfront — followed by a pay cut — to move while Facebook, Twitter, and software firm ServiceNow have considered doing so. Stripe has more than 2,500 employees working at 14 offices worldwide.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced much of the office workforce to operate from home. Some companies have told their employees they can work remotely for the foreseeable future; the latest entrant being Deutsche Bank. With no need to live in expensive cities near their offices, some people have considered — or already are — moving to cheaper parts of the country.

That trend is already having an impact on some real estate markets, including notoriously expensive San Francisco, where Stripe is headquartered. Rents were down 9.2 percent year-over-year in May.

Manhattan rental inventory jumped 11.9 percent from July to August. Just two submarkets there, Chinatown and Midtown West, saw inventory drop during that period. Rents also fell in many Manhattan neighborhoods during that period as well.

But office workers appear split when it comes to efforts like the one Stripe is trying. Around half of the 5,900 people who responded to a survey on the professional network Blind said that a relocation shouldn’t warrant a pay cut if an employee was doing the same work. Around 44 percent said they would take the offer of a big payday then a pay cut. [Bloomberg] — Dennis Lynch 

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Stay at the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” mansion for $30/night

Stay at the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” mansion for $30/night

WIll Smith as the Fresh Prince and the Los Angeles mansion (Getty, Airbnb)

WIll Smith as the Fresh Prince and the Los Angeles mansion (Getty, Airbnb)

If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to sit on a throne as the Prince of Bel Air, you’re in luck: The “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” house is officially welcoming visitors — but there’s a catch.

Beginning Sept. 29, Airbnb is letting guests book one night at the Bel Air mansion where the iconic 1990s sitcom was filmed. Bookings will be available on Oct. 2, 5, 8, 11 and October 14, and will go for just $30/night (because it’s the show’s 30th anniversary).

What’s the catch? The promotion is available only for residents of Los Angeles county. Airbnb enforced similar rules for its bookings at the last remaining Blockbuster store in Bend, Oregon.

Those who actually snag one of the sure-to-be-coveted spots will have access to a list of perks curated by the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith, who’s been hyping the promotion on his Instagram account. Those include “[l]acing up a fresh pair of Jordans before shooting some b-ball in the bedroom” and “[d]onning a fly look from my closet, from argyle prepster to all-star athlete.”

The house has also been decked out with plenty of “Fresh Prince” memorabilia, including photos from the set and Smith’s Bel Air Academy jersey from the TV show. Guests will stay in a “wing” that includes a king-size bedroom, bathroom, pool and dining room (though meals, including Philly cheesesteaks, are apparently provided).

There’s been a flurry of activity surrounding the show’s 30th anniversary. Earlier this month, the original cast and crew got together for an unscripted reunion special, a dramatic reboot of the series was announced, and all of the original episodes of the series were released on the Peacock streaming platform. [LADN] — Dennis Lynch 

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What you need to know about Zumper, a $400M startup accused of renter bias

What you need to know about Zumper, a $400M startup accused of renter bias

Zumper CEO Anthemos Georgiades (Getty; iStock)

Zumper CEO Anthemos Georgiades (Getty; iStock)

On September 1, Zumper published a set of core principles it said defined its brand: inclusivity, safety and respect.

“We believe that everyone deserves a fair shot and a safe place to call home,” Anthemos Georgiades, CEO of the rental platform, wrote on the company blog. “We do not tolerate any form of discrimination with regard to race, color, nationality, age, gender identity, marital status, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.”

Just two weeks later, Zumper is dealing with the fallout from a damning report that found it
systematically weeded out low-income renters. Citing interviews with current and past employees, Business Insider reported Sept. 15 that Zumper managers instructed employees to categorize some renters as “unserviceable.” Further, internal data revealed the company’s engineering team installed filters that screened out renters with Section 8 housing vouchers.

Zumper has categorically denied the allegations. Still, the report is a black eye for an eight-year-old firm that’s become both a Silicon Valley and real estate industry darling, raising $150 million to date from the likes of Greylock, Kleiner Perkins and Andreessen Horowitz, as well as Blackstone Group, Marcus & Millichap and DivcoWest.

Early on, the company caught the attention of Silicon Valley after appearing at a startup competition and nabbed $1 million in funding. It was most recently valued at $400 million, after closing a $60 million Series D in March 2020 led by e.ventures, according to Pitchbook. That valuation was a big jump from its 2018 figure of $215 million, which it achieved after raising $45 million.

Like other fast-growing startups, Zumper has been on an M&A tear. In 2016, it paid $10 million for New York City-based PadMapper. Last year, it snapped up NowRenting, a platform that automates the rental process for landlords. It also reportedly acquired MySpace NYC, a residential brokerage in Brooklyn, and partnered with Chicago-based brokerage Spaces Real Estate.

Its growth has caused anxiety among some in the industry, who’ve expressed concern that Zumper would seek to replace agents. In 2017, Zumper launched a residential brokerage arm in New York, prompting brokerage chiefs to lash out.

Compared to listing portals like Zillow and Apartments.com, Zumper is still a bit player. Its website and mobile app had 10.3 million visitors in August 2020, according to SimilarWeb. By comparison, Apartments.com, which is owned by CoStar, had 40.4 million visitors last month. Zillow, which has for-sale and rental listings, had 289 million.

Since last year, Zumper has been bulking up its C-suite. In October 2019, it tapped Vishal Makhijani, ex-COO at Zynga, as its COO and president, followed by Patty Crawford, a former CoStar executive, as vice president of strategic sales. Last month, Darren Goode, a former Apple exec, joined Zumper as chief marketing officer, and just this week Zumper hired former Uber design executive Shalin Amin as chief experience officer.

Last month, the company rolled out Instarent, a product that allows renters to fully sign leases digitally. It was that launch that led Zumper to publish the core values statement. “Although the principle of fairness has always been central to our ethos,” Georgiades wrote, “we never formally set standards about the eway our company should work together.”


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Venture capital firm founder buys Palm Beach condo for $6M

Venture capital firm founder buys Palm Beach condo for $6M

Yongmee Michele Kang and 101 Worth Avenue in Palm Beach

Yongmee Michele Kang and 101 Worth Avenue in Palm Beach

Yongmee Michele Kang, founder and CEO of Cognosante Ventures, bought a Palm Beach condo for $5.5 million.

Records show Kang bought the four-bedroom, four-bath condo at 101 Worth Avenue from the Kevin J. Collins 2002 Revocable Trust. Robert W. Sheehan is named as a trustee.

Cognosante Ventures is a Falls Church, Virginia-based venture capital firm that provides seed money to technology startups. Kang founded the company in 2008.

The Kevin J. Collins Trust had paid $2.3 million for the 4,130-square-foot Kirkland House unit 0031 in 1999, according to records.

The 20-unit condo building, which is across the street from the ocean, was built in 1974. Kang’s purchase equates to $1,332 per square foot.

Palm Beach has seen a number of high-priced sales this month. Billionaire real estate and casino magnate Neil Bluhm bought a Palm Beach townhouse for $7.4 million. A spec house sold for $5.7 million, and the family of Andy Warhol muse Jane Holzer bought a Palm Beach home for $8 million.


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Rilea Group scores $46M construction loan for Sunrise apartments

Rilea Group scores $46M construction loan for Sunrise apartments

Alan Ojeda and 8894 NW 44 Street in Sunrise (Google Maps)

Alan Ojeda and 8894 NW 44 Street in Sunrise (Google Maps)

The Rilea Group closed on a construction loan for a multifamily development in Sunrise.

Property records show an affiliate of Alan Ojeda’s Rilea Group secured the $45.8 million loan from Abanca USA for Vista Verda at Sunrise, a 288-unit project at 8894 Northwest 44th Street.

Rilea paid $10.4 million for the property in 2019, which was previously home to Pine Plaza, a 135,732-square-foot shopping center that was built in 1986. Tenants included Winn-Dixie.

Tony Rey, director of construction at Rilea Group, said via email that the developer plans to break ground in October and deliver the project by the summer of 2022. Vista Verde at Sunrise will include a swimming pool and sundeck, racquetball court, and other amenities.

MSA Architects is designing the project, according to the developer’s website.

In Sunrise, a western Broward County city, developer Joseph Kavana recently completed the first tower in a major master-planned development called Metropica.

Rilea Group’s previous projects include the Bond on Brickell condo tower, completed in 2017, and the office tower at 1450 Brickell Avenue.


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Compass aims to cut down any Avi Dorfman windfall

Compass aims to cut down any Avi Dorfman windfall

Avi Dorfman and Compass' Robert Reffkin and Ori Allon (Getty; iStock)

Avi Dorfman and Compass’ Robert Reffkin and Ori Allon (Getty; iStock)

With a jury trial looming, Compass is trying to lessen the windfall Avi Dorfman could reap if he proves he co-founded the firm.

The brokerage has asked the court to restrict Dorfman’s damages to cash instead of stock. Further, it urged the court to base Dorfman’s damages on Compass’ value in 2012, when he claimed to have worked with CEO Robert Reffkin.

“Dorfman’s recovery should not vary based on fluctuations in the value of Compass stock during the nearly eight years since his claim accrued,” the company, last valued at $6.4 billion, argued in an Aug. 31 motion.

Dorfman sued Compass in 2014, claiming Reffkin used a concept they worked on together in 2012 as the foundation for the brokerage. Dorfman said Reffkin reneged on an early job offer and 2.5 percent stake in the company; Compass maintains that Dorfman turned down the offer only to seek a “do-over.”

This summer, the case took a turn when Judge Andrea Masley said valuation questions would not be part of the trial. Rather, she said, the jury would decide whether Dorfman is entitled to “present … shares” of Compass stock.

The brokerage has raised more than $1.5 billion from investors, including SoftBank. The New York-based firm has more than 15,000 agents nationwide and claimed to have sold $88 billion in real estate last year.

When it comes to Dorfman, the brokerage says equity should be off the table. “He has consistently sought money damages — and only money damages — in this case,” its Aug. 31 motion said.

But Dorfman’s legal team claims that is simply not true. “We believe a jury will find that Avi Dorfman was a founder of Compass, and as a founder he’s entitled to equity in the company,” said Jonathan Harris.

A spokesperson for Compass said the firm looks forward to its chance to “disprove Mr. Dorfman’s false claims that he should receive any compensation for the limited hours of work he alleged to have performed in 2012.”

In the tech world, founder disputes are not new.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg fought off several, including one from Eduardo Saverin and another from brothers Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss, who settled for just $65 million. Martin Eberhard, a former CEO of Tesla, threatened a defamation suit over CEO Elon Musk’s founder title.

In general, such suits allege breach of contract and the plaintiff, if successful, is compensated with monetary damages.

But in situations where cash is deemed insufficient, the court may award other forms of damages, said Jonathan Gworek, a startup attorney at Morse, Barnes-Brown & Pendleton in Waltham, Mass.
An impending IPO could be one reason a monetary award is deemed insufficient, Gworek said.

“I can see the plaintiff saying, ‘If you give me cash, I won’t be able to turn around and buy the stock. So I’m not going to benefit from the run-up in value when it goes public,’” he said.

For Compass, the financial stakes are high either way. Randall Baron, a partner at Robbins Geller Rudman & Down, surmised the firm is probably “trying to deny him the appreciation” of its shares over the past few years. Sources said the firm may be betting that a jury will have a harder time awarding a staggering sum than mere shares, even if they are just as valuable.

But there are other drawbacks to Compass awarding new shares.

After six years of litigation, the brokerage likely wants to avoid a fiduciary relationship with Dorman. With shares, Dorfman would be empowered to request financial information, and it’s possible his vote would also be needed to approve a company sale. “If the court awards him cash, their relationship is contractual and short-lived. They rip the Band-Aid off,” said Ed Zimmerman, chair of the tech group at Lowenstein Sandler.

What’s more, issuing new equity could have a “cascading effect” by diluting the ownership of other shareholders, Gworek noted. In all likelihood, the company would have to issue additional shares to investors to preserve their position. “That could wreak havoc on the company’s capitalization table,” he said.

In an Aug. 24 letter to the judge, Compass’ attorneys said as much. “While Defendants disagree that Dorfman can recover ‘the current valuation’ of Compass stock as opposed to its 2012 value, the point remains that Dorfman was clearly seeking the value of the shares as money damages, not the shares themselves,” they wrote.

The original complaint, however, says Dorfman was denied a piece of the company and seeks compensatory damages.

In the original suit, Dorfman didn’t specify the value of his damages, only that he originally believed he was owed 5 percent to 10 percent of a founder’s stake. Compass offered 2.5 percent, then 1.8 percent, which Dorfman turned down because they were insulting. Experts hired by Dorfman said in 2019 he could be entitled to 2.5 million shares.

According to court documents, Reffkin paid only $335.50 for 3.355 million shares in 2012. The value of his shares today isn’t clear given that they were likely diluted over time. Compass’ $370 million Series G priced shares at $154.27 apiece, according to Pitchbook.

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Hungry for cash, Opendoor eyes IPO

Hungry for cash, Opendoor eyes IPO

Opendoor CEO Eric Wu (iStock)

Opendoor CEO Eric Wu (iStock)

Five months after laying off 800 staffers — or 35 percent of its workforce — iBuying startup Opendoor is eyeing a $5 billion IPO with a blank-check company.

Welcome to 2020, the year of unending surprises.

Founded in 2014, the San Francisco startup is the undisputed market leader in a nascent but burgeoning sector, which accounted for $8 billion worth of home sales in 2019. The general idea behind iBuying is to make a cash offer in exchange for a fee, then resell at a profit after making modest repairs.

But iBuying accounts for just 0.5 percent of U.S. home sales, and it is largely untested. And iBuyers paused home-buying in March due to economic and housing uncertainty. In fact, home-buying by the top four players — including Opendoor, Zillow, Offerpad and Redfin — plunged 88 percent during the second quarter, according to a Redfin analysis.

“It’s not clear these guys are going to survive,” Gilles Duranton, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, told The Real Deal in April.

To fully recover, Opendoor needs cash.

“These real estate tech companies with massive valuations and massive amounts of investment raised … need exits; their investors need a return on their investment,” said industry analyst Mike DelPrete. Taking the company public is likely the “most attractive” path forward, he said. “Opendoor needs to raise more capital — it’s losing money.”

To date, Opendoor has raised $1.3 billion in equity from investors including SoftBank, Khosla Ventures, Lennar, General Atlantic and Access Technology Ventures. The company was most recently valued at $3.8 billion — but its last funding round — a $300 million Series E — came in March 2019. Opendoor charges a fee for buying homes, and it froze that revenue line in March. The San Francisco company was the first to resume buying in May.

But Zillow is hot on its trail.

In 2018, Opendoor cornered 70 percent of the iBuying market compared to Zillow’s 3 percent, according to DelPrete. In 2019, Opendoor’s stake dropped to 64 percent compared to Zillow’s 18 percent. (Opendoor sold 19,000 homes in 2019, up from 7,200 in 2018.)

Surprisingly, the housing market has seen a better-than-expected rebound from its low point in March and April. In July, home sales rose 24.7 percent, up 8.7 percent year over year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

But DelPrete noted that iBuyers have a lot riding on the recovery. In general, it is a low-margin business. Zillow lost $312 million on iBuying last year, according to the company’s financials. “The iBuyers need to prove their model is relevant in an uncertain, post-pandemic world,” DelPrete wrote in a May report.

Against that backdrop, however, the IPO and special-purpose acquisition corporation markets are on fire. A slew of tech startups have gone public, including Lemonade, an insurance tech company, and Vroom, an online used-car seller. Others are on deck, including Airbnb. (The IPO market is on track to reach a six-year high with 170 IPOs raising $50 billion, according to Renaissance Capital.)

Notwithstanding a three-day selloff last week, tech stocks have led the overall economic recovery, with Apple hitting a $2 trillion market cap in August. Shares of real estate “disruptors” like Zillow, Redfin and virtual brokerage eXp Realty have also surged. (Zillow is up 155 percent year-over-year, Redfin is up 168 percent and eXp is up 349.9 percent.)

Tom White, an analyst at D.A. Davidson, surmised that Opendoor may want to “capitalize” on that. “The iBuying market is still relatively nascent but could benefit from [the] pandemic accelerating the trend of digitization,” he said.

Opendoor is also jumping on the SPAC bandwagon.

It is in late-stage talks with Chamaath Palihaapitiya’s Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. II, Bloomberg reported Thursday. Social Capital is one of 75 SPACs that have raised more than $30 billion, according to SPACInsider.

“You have a situation now where there’s more money than ever,” said Jarred Kessler, who spent a dozen years in finance before launching EasyKnock, a startup that buys homes and rents them back to the seller.

He speculated that some startups may be looking to exploit that dynamic, particularly if they circumvent a public prospectus and roadshow. (WeWork’s S-1 filing disclosed massive losses and raised a host of governance issues.)

“I’d suspect that, coming off an uncertain period of time, Opendoor would want to move into a SPAC to cash out,” Kessler said. “Given what happened with WeWork, it’s a Trojan horse way of going public without having the same scrutiny.”

Yousuf Hafuda, an analyst at Morningstar, said the flood of venture capital into the space hasn’t helped, since it’s fueled competition among iBuyers and pushed up offer prices. “This erodes the major advantage inherent to the model,” he said, “whereby consumers make a tradeoff between increased convenience in exchange for a lower than market offer on their home.”

In recent months, Opendoor’s left a trail of clues as to its next moves. This month it tapped board member Carrie Wheeler as CFO, replacing Gautam Gupta. And it’s been recruiting agents to a nascent brokerage, adding to ancillary services like title and escrow.


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High above sky, Burj Khalifa light show reveals baby’s gender

High above sky, Burj Khalifa light show reveals baby’s gender

The world’s tallest tower, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, became the centerpiece of an over-the-top gender reveal party for a local influencer couple. (Credit: Anas and Asala Marwah via YouTube)

The world’s tallest tower, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, became the centerpiece of an over-the-top gender reveal party for a local influencer couple. (Credit: Anas and Asala Marwah via YouTube)

A Dubai-based influencer couple wanted the world to see the gender of their unborn baby, and what better way to do that than on the side of the world’s tallest tower.

Anas and Asala Marwah learned the sex of their second child when “It’s a boy!” was projected on the side of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, according to the National.

The couple said they didn’t know the child’s gender before the big reveal, and said the doctor’s confirmation was handed directly to the people organizing the light show.

The video was posted on their YouTube channel on Tuesday and has been watched more than 13 million times.

It’s unclear who paid for the reveal, but the couple included the hashtags #MyDubai and #ThankYouEmaar in the description. The first hashtag was created by the city’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. The latter referenced the Burj Khalifa’s owner, Emaar Properties.

The timing of the video was somewhat awkward — Tuesday also brought reports that fireworks at a gender reveal party in California’s San Bernardino County sparked a fire that had burned at least 10,000 acres.

Jenna Karvunidis, a blogger credited with starting the gender reveal party trend, took to Facebook following reports of the California incident to implore people to stop hosting them, according to CNN.

“Stop having these stupid parties. For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid’s penis,” she wrote. “No one cares but you.” [The National] — Dennis Lynch 

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Shaq lists Shaq-sized Orlando estate for $20M

Shaq lists Shaq-sized Orlando estate for $20M

Shaquille O’Neal circa 1996 and the Orlando estate (Getty; Estate courtesy Sotheby's)

Shaquille O’Neal circa 1996 and the Orlando estate (Getty; Estate courtesy Sotheby’s)

NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal has listed his Shaq-sized mansion outside Orlando for $19.5 million.

It’s the second time the four-acre lakefront estate has been on the market since 2018, when O’Neal asked $28 million for the property, according to Variety. Later that year he cut the ask to $21.9 million.

Shaq bought the then-23,000-square-foot mansion in 1993 during his rookie year in the NBA with the Orlando Magic.
He expanded the Neo-colonial mansion to an even larger 35,000 square feet. It now has 12 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, a 6,000-square-foot indoor basketball court, and a garage with parking for 17 vehicles.

One of the family rooms is home to the front section of a big rig truck with O’Neal’s nickname, “Diesel,” painted across the bumper, according to Variety.

The oversized circular bed in the 1,000-square-foot suite features the Superman logo, which O’Neal has identified with over the years. The logo shows up plenty of other places around the house.

There’s also a smoking room with a walk-in humidor and an Egyptian-themed room with a triangular saltwater fish tank.
Out back there’s a 95-foot-long swimming pool and an outdoor kitchen. The property has 700 feet of lake frontage and a two-slip private boat dock.

In the last three years, O’Neal has purchased homes outside Atlanta and in Los Angeles’ Bell Canyon. The latter is also on the market, currently asking $2.3 million. [Variety] — Dennis Lynch

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