Newer proptech continues to raid legacy real estate tech for talent as the border between the two recedes.
In the latest such hire, data analytics company Cherre announced that veteran real estate technology leader Raj Bhatti has joined the startup in its Manhattan office as a senior vice president of client services.
His newly established role at Cherre will be heavily client-facing, said Bhatti, who brings more than 20 years of tech experience to the company, most recently as the global chief information officer for Newmark.
“Most of it will be talking to our clients and our prospects, discussing with them what their issues are, where their pain points are, and working with them to build a strategy,” Bhatti said. “But then taking the outcomes of those meetings and talking to my internal engineering and product teams to build our roadmap so that it’s best in line with [the clients’ needs].”
Cherre CEO L.D. Salmanson and Bhatti began talking about the latter joining the company four months ago, Bhatti said. Eventually, they created a new role at the company for Bhatti, who sees himself as a kind of tech “utility player” for Cherre. Bhatti also envisions his role as talking with client CIOs, and then distilling that feedback for his team: “This is where the puck is going to go as far as what our clients need,” he said. “Sometimes we want to give advice to our clients as to what we think they need, but also we want to be the voice of the client within the chatter.”
Bhatti made the decision to switch from a corporate technology position to a proptech startup job for several reasons, he said.
“I’ve been doing [corporate work] for 25 years and a lot of the goals I had from a corporate success point of view were achieved,” Bhatti said. “Unique to Cherre’s situation, from a data analysis point of view, I saw a solution that, as a corporate leader, if I had a partner like this, how much easier and less risky my corporate IP engineering project would have been. That opportunity to me was the biggest driver.”
“Also, I looked at the recent hires at larger firms in real estate,” Bhatti added. “Two things are happening. Talent is coming from the outside. People from Silicon Valley are working for the large brokerages and the large prop funds.”
Much as Wall Street saw the line between investment bankers and hedge fund professionals blur, Bhatti said he sees a similar dynamic happening between traditional real estate and proptech.
While at Newmark, Bhatti led the build-out of a connected data platform and the creation of data products for internal and external customers. As CIO, he managed the design and development of a new data science platform utilizing machine learning on structured and unstructured data sources with Newmark.
However, Bhatti found that efforts to transform spreadsheet work into digital formats often fell short, something he hopes to rectify at Cherre.
“They always started with that goal,” Bhatti said of clients’ desire to move from analog to digital data. According to him, the clients’ thinking invariably went, “‘We’re gonna come up with these insights and decision-making analytics and we’re going to move away from spreadsheets. It will be a two-year project and it costs x.’
“But most of the time it would be a five-year project and cost 5x. And they were still using spreadsheets. The projects would fail mostly because of budget, because of upkeep and support, and not having the stamina to see them through to closure.”
Bhatti sees Cherre’s team of more than 100, most of them engineers and data scientists, along with its 200 data vendors, as having the ability to “wrangle the data” to get to that closure for clients. “I feel like — it’s going to sound a little exaggerated — but we will revolutionize data. It’s like what Amazon and [Amazon Web Services] did for servers and storage, we’re going to do for data connections.”
However, that goal is not an easy one for Cherre or the industry to achieve, Bhatti said. “I started in financial services in the middle 1990s and it took them 20 years to get where they are. I think real estate’s about 10 years into that 20-year cycle.”
In addition to Bhatti, Cherre announced that Paige Bachety has joined the company in a leading sales role after nearly a decade at Bloomberg LP, where she was responsible for selling enterprise technology to some of the largest investors and money managers in North America. Most recently, Bachety managed a team of sales directors, responsible for growing Bloomberg’s buy-side enterprise business across the U.S.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to have Raj and Paige join our team,” Steve Coutts, chief commercial officer at Cherre, who is responsible for the company’s strategic development, said in a statement. “Their incredible experience with both real estate and technology will increase our team’s capacity to help our customers with their data automation journey, while also enabling our team to reach more potential customers.”
Philip Russo can be reached at email@example.com.