Multifamily technology watchers have noted similarities between the lawsuit filed last month by Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Yardi against Carrollton, Texas-based RealPage and the litigation last year between Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle and Walldorf, Germany-based SAP. Not only do both cases concern themselves with questions over subsidiary access to competitive data in the name of client support, but the attorneys of record for Yardi are none other than Geoff Howard & Bree Hann of San Francisco-based lawfirm Bingham McCutchen. In November, Howard & Hann secured Oracle a $1.3 billion victory in its suit against SAP, which has since bolstered its own legal team in preparation for a possible appeal. While multifamily technology legal dramas continue to unfold, it’s still business as usual for the apartment tech sector. Here's a roundup of notable news items crossing the MFE technology desk in the past month.
At Your Service
It’s not all law and order down in Santa Barbara, Calif.: On Jan. 18, Yardi announced the public release of MilitaryHomesToday.com, a website intended to make it easier for those serving in the U.S. military to find new housing options following a transfer or PCS (permanent change of station). MilitaryHomesToday.com directs transferring service members to property websites that list all on-post housing options available at their new post or base. The website includes information for nearly every military installation in the United States. "Pulling up roots and redeploying is often a stressful event for our men and women in uniform. Yardi is proud to offer a resource that can help make the transition a bit easier for them," says Yardi's Spencer Stewart, who also serves on NAA's Privatized Military Housing Committee.
Norfolk, Va.-based ILS ForRent.com and Atlanta-based ILS RentWiki.com announced an exclusive partnership Jan. 24 whereby RentWiki will provide user-generated content to complement ForRent.com apartment listings. According to a release on the partnership, information from RentWiki’s Neighborhood Wiki will help increase visibility for listed properties associated with featured neighborhoods. “Consumers trust the unbiased opinion of other consumers,” said Brock MacLean, senior vice president of national sales and development. “According to a September 2010 study from the Pew Research Center, nearly one-fourth of U.S. adults say they have posted comments or reviews online about the products or services they buy. We embrace the opportunity this exclusive RentWiki partnership presents us to incorporate user-generated content into our site. This creates another platform for renters to communicate with each other. It also lets property managers monitor what is being said about the neighborhood around them.”
New Orleans-based multifamily technology and web services firm 365 Connect launched a Twitter and Facebook tool that integrates with the firm’s 365 Online Leasing Center and 365 Resident Services Portal, offering users the ability to make real-time posts to Twitter and Facebook via the 365 Connect Technology Platform. The service includes an application for a direct, authenticated social network connection using each social network service’s Application Programming Interface (API), offering users one-click, automated postings to Twitter and Facebook.
High Performance Tune-Up
San Francisco-based multifamily ILS MyNewPlace.com announced Jan. 11 revisions to its pricing model and a suite of additional reporting tools for the firm’s RentEngine integrated Craigslist posting and syndication service. Pricing options have been expanded and range between $29.95 and $54.95 per month, depending on different levels of service offerings while all RentEngine users will benefit from a new reporting suite offering 16 reports, including compliance reports, posting reports, lead reports, and a range of optimization reports. According to the firm, applying combined optimization insights to posting campaigns can lead to substantial increases in lead generation.
The Check is in Your E-mail
Oakland, Calif.-based PropertyBridge, a MoneyGram company, and provider of electronic payment services to the multifamily industry, announced Jan. 26 that the firm’s electronic payment volume exceeded $1 billion in 2010, with “Pay by Cash at MoneyGram” transactions increasing 2,967 percent and the use of scanned checks increasing 84 percent. One firm helping to fuel the growth in electronic payments has been Phoenix, Ariz.-based Alliance Residential Co., which has implemented a policy to no longer accept money orders in community offices across its 44,000-unit portfolio of 184 properties. “By using the PropertyBridge electronic Pay by Cash Solution, our company has reduced risk and exposure, and improved cash flow while increasing customer service,” says Alliance vice president of technology Scott Pechersky. For operators still new to e-payment trends, PropertyBridge will host a webinar on electronic payment best practices on February 16. Registration for the event is free online.
Time to Speak Up
The brains behind the 2011 Apartment Internet Marketing Conference, set for May 2-4 in Huntington Beach, Calif., have announced a call for presentations. Conference planners are encouraging industry executives, thought leaders, and marketing gurus to propose innovative session topics to reveal marketing opportunities for the identification and retention of residents. Presentation ideas can tackle topics across various facets of apartment internet marketing including: search marketing; social media channels; lead tracking and conversion rates; emerging technologies; revenue management; resident retention; local search; mobile search; online mapping; and the interactions between different technology channels. “The speed in which new ideas and technologies are being introduced and executed in today’s marketplace is unprecedented,” says AIM executive producer Steve Lefkovits. “Our goal is to present a wild two-and-a-half-day avalanche of ideas our attendees can implement to drive revenue, improve sales, and grab mindshare awareness among their target renters.” For more information about the conference or the Call for Presentations, visit www.aimconf.com.