Workplace experience platform provider Lane has acquired longtime tenant engagement services provider eServus, adding 25 clients, 300 properties and 70 million square feet of floorspace to its own growing business.
“They are veterans of the industry. Probably most people haven’t heard of them outside commercial real estate, because they really focus on providing tenant engagement services to property managers who manage buildings,” said Lane co-founder and CEO Clinton Robinson in an interview with RENX.
“They’ve got a fantastic product for managing concierge services.
“They’ve been doing it for 21 years now, which is pretty incredible. What we really like about them is that they understand, at the ground level, onsite, how to offer things to people in a commercial real estate building to keep them interested, offer them something fun or interesting to do to make their work day a little better.”
Both companies are based in Toronto.
Robinson declined to offer financial details of the transaction. However, back in February eServus was set to be acquired by GOLO Mobile for $6.5 million. The deal fell apart in April when GOLO pulled out of the process.
“We think there’s a deep knowledge there of this industry and some really deep relationships. We thought that’s an interesting addition to bring on to Lane, which is a purely tech platform,” Robinson said.
“We had these kind of concierge services in our future roadmap. It’s something we were thinking about doing in the future to augment the technology, but we saw this opportunity with eServus and thought, ‘Let’s accelerate this roadmap’.”
What eServus provides for clients
eServus combines online ordering with discounts on location-specific items such as movie tickets, hotels, car rentals, gym memberships, restaurants and more. It has helped property owners and managers engage and retain tenants since 1999.
Through its tenant engagement services arm, eServus allows building teams to plan and run everything from events and social media programs to tenant surveys and newsletters.
The company services buildings and clients in cities across North America, including Atlanta, Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver.
Lane has doubled its workforce during the past year to about 50 and opened offices in Australia, Brazil and Germany. eServus’ existing full-time staff of about 15 will be integrated into Lane’s operations as it also integrates the services into Lane’s platform.
“We’re the technology platform, we’re the provider of the tech that makes all of this stuff work. We felt a lot of synergy in that a lot of what eServus does can be powered by our platform,” Robinson said.
“We want to bring them off their existing commerce platform and integrate everything they do directly into our technology.”
Consolidation coming to proptech
Robinson said the acquisition also keeps Lane in the forefront of consolidation which is likely coming within the sector. A relatively new market with numerous smaller players, proptech seems ripe for successful companies to begin scaling up via acquisitions.
“What’s interesting is consolidation, the fact there are a lot of service providers out there,” said Robinson. “This is a new industry and you see that in every industry, eventually things start to consolidate.
“You go from 20 players to five really good ones and we’re kind of watching that happen right now.”
Lane raised $10 million in a Series A equity offering in June and Robinson said it is planning for a Series B equity raise, though there’s no timeline yet. He said the company plans to take the next three to six months to absorb eServus, but didn’t rule out possible new transactions.
“There’s lots of opportunity now within the industry for consolidation and I think with coronavirus, COVID, which is distressing some businesses, I think there is opportunity there,” Robinson said. “We are going to keep our eyes open but we don’t have anything at the moment. This is enough for us to work on over the next quarter.”
Pandemic accelerates tech adoption
Far from hurting its operations, the pandemic has actually helped move Lane’s business forward.
“We all knew office buildings needed this updated technology, it’s been a long time coming,” Robinson said. “We knew long-term every building would need a platform like this eventually.
“COVID is accelerating that. What we thought was going to take five years we’ll say probably just got crunched down to a couple of years.”
Having two-way access with employees who might be working in multiple locations, requiring increased co-ordination and scheduling of office time and resources, is going to be a growing challenge. These are the types of issues Lane’s platform is designed to address.
“We’re going to need intelligent technology to help business and commercial real estate manage all this,” Robinson said. “We don’t think there is going to be less office, what we think is that the office needs to change to be more accommodating, to these kind of flexible scenarios.”