Denver-based REIT UDR lost a prime information technology (IT) asset this month with the departure of senior vice president and chief information officer (CIO) Dhrubo Sircar. Instrumental in developing UDR’s mobile technology platform and increasing automated rent payments for the REIT’s portfolio above the 65 percent threshold, Sircar has joined Bell Partners, where he will again man the CIO helm, a new position at the Greensboro, N.C.-based owner/operator of 55,000 apartments and 2,500 senior living units.
“It was a family move,” says Sircar, who has two sons currently enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “We did a lot of great things at UDR, and they are clearly the best in class right now when it comes to multifamily technology.” Sircar plans to again attack automated clearing house (ACH) adoption, lead management, and business analytics generation at Bell Partners, where he also plans to deploy a mobile computing platform.
“Nontethered computing is a concept that was widespread in the banking world when I came over to multifamily,” Sircar says. “You cannot use mobile for everything, but for topical point-in-time communications, mobile is the right way. In that space, I think I brought UDR along, and I am going to do the same thing at Bell."
For apartment firms unable to land a marquee CIO like Sircar, the ILS space is beginning to enter the mobile computing arena in a big way. Norfolk, Va.-based ForRent.com launched an augmented reality Layar mobile application on Dec. 1, joining UDR in the point-and-find apartment search arena that allows smart phone users to view available apartment information as an overlay to the display from a phone’s camera component.
ForRent.com’s application for iPhones and Google Android phones shows apartments available on ForRent.com within a 10-mile radius. “The Layar application has been well-received worldwide,” says For Rent Media Solutions president Terry Slattery. “We are proud to be connected to the next step in mobile technology and look forward to the future of mobile media.”
One company that’s not looking forward to the future of multifamily technology is Mountain View, Calif.-based Intuit, which announced Dec. 1 that it will sell its Intuit Real Estate Solutions (IRES) platform to San Francisco-based private equity firm Vista Equity Partners for $128 million. “Intuit Real Estate Solutions is a great business with a bright future,” said Inuit president and CEO Brad Smith. “As we’ve focused our strategy on providing connected services that help consumers and small businesses, the IRES business model and the customers it serves are no longer a strategic, long-term fit for Intuit.” The transaction is subject to regulatory review and is expected to close by Jan. 31.