JLL Spark Forms $100M Global Venture Fund

The new vehicle will focus on tech startups that help JLL investor and occupier clients or that invent new technology-enabled business models in the company’s traditional service areas.
Mihir Shah, co-CEO of JLL Spark
Mihir Shah, co-CEO of JLL Spark

JLL Spark, a JLL division launched last year to expand the firm’s proptech capabilities, plans to invest up to $100 million in companies that aim to transform the commercial real estate industry through technology. JLL Spark Global Venture Fund will also help entrepreneurs and their companies by connecting them with JLL’s business lines and clients for feedback and distribution of products.

“Having been entrepreneurs ourselves, we know how hard it is to bring a new product to market, especially in an industry that has been slow to adopt new technology. That’s why our goal is to partner with entrepreneurs and help them tap into the resources of JLL’s business lines so they can succeed in rapidly growing their companies while we also create value for JLL’s clients,” Mihir Shah, co-CEO of JLL Spark, said in a prepared statement.

Last July, JLL introduced the San Francisco-based JLL Spark as a global business that will identify and deliver new technology-driven real estate offerings. Shah and JLL Spark’s Co-CEO Yishai Lerner both have successful track records of founding, managing and investing in profitable technology businesses.

JLL CEO Christian Ulbrich
JLL CEO Christian Ulbrich

The new fund will focus on seed and Series A investments, as well as select later stage rounds. Investment size will range from a few hundred thousand to several million dollars, with JLL Spark focusing on tech startups that have products to help JLL investor and occupier clients or that can be used by JLL businesses to improve delivery of services. It will also consider companies that are inventing new technology-enabled business models in traditional JLL service areas or those reaching new client segments.

“Creating this $100 million venture fund through JLL Spark allows us to continue to lead the real estate industry in bringing the best proptech ideas to reality. It complements and expands our substantial ongoing investments in innovative, cutting-edge digital solutions, which is a core part of our Beyond strategic vision and commitment to achieve ambitions for our clients,” JLL CEO Christian Ulbrich said in a prepared statement.

Technology Company Acquisitions

JLL Spark has been expanding its business. In March, the division made its first strategic acquisition since its inception and purchased Stessa, a software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based real estate technology platform. Stessa, “assets” spelled backwards, is also headquartered in San Francisco and lets income property investors track, manage and communicate the performance of their portfolios. 

Shah said JLL Spark chose Stessa as its first acquisition because it offers a platform that fills a gap in the market for small-to-medium investors by giving property owners real-time information on their holdings and also streamlines paperwork and reporting requirements.

Even before creating JLL Spark, JLL had been focusing on increasing its technology offerings and services. In June 2016, the firm agreed to acquire BRG, a Dallas-based leader in workplace technology consulting, implementation and space management services. BRG became part of JLL’s new Technology Solutions group, which was created to offer standalone and integrated solutions with JLL’s other core services including facility management, project management and capital works, integrated portfolio management and brokerage services.

Images courtesy of JLL