Biden gets family policy half right.
America as we have come to know it is most likely a thing of the past.
In recent years, the U.S. has seen more renters than at any point since at least 1965, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau housing data.
Competition for renters is fierce and property managers are turning to technology to get a leg up.
To meet that demand, Seattle-based Knock – one startup that has developed tools to give property management companies a competitive edge – has raised $20 million in a growth funding round led by Fifth Wall Ventures.
Existing backers Madrona Venture Group, Lead Edge Capital, Second Avenue Partners and Seven Peaks Ventures also participated in the financing, which brings the company’s total capital raised to $47 million.
Demetri Themelis and Tom Petry co-founded Knock in 2014 after renting “in super competitive markets” such as New York City, San Francisco and Seattle.
“After meeting with property management companies, it was eye-opening to learn about the total gap across their tech stacks,” Themelis recalled.
Knock’s goal is to provide CRM tools to modernize front office operations for these companies so they can do things like offer virtual tours and communicate with renters via text, email or social media from “a single conversation screen.” For renters, it offers an easier way to communicate and engage with landlords.
“Apartment buildings, like almost every customer-driven business, compete with each other by attracting, converting and retaining customers,” Themelis said. “For property management companies, these customers are renters.”
The startup — which operates as a SaaS business — has seen an uptick in growth, quadrupling its revenue over the past two years. Its software is used by hundreds of the largest property management companies across the United States and Canada and has more than 1.5 million apartment units using the platform. Starwood Capital Group, ZRS, FPI and Cushman & Wakefield (formerly Pinnacle) are among its users.
As Petry explains it, Knock serves as the sales inbox (chat, SMS, phone, email), sales calendar and CRM systems, all in one.
“We also automate certain sales tasks like outreach and appointment scheduling, while also surfacing which sales opportunities need the most attention at any given time, for both new leases as well as renewals,” he said.
The company, Themelis said, was well-prepared for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our software supports property management companies, which operate high-density apartment buildings that people live and work in,” he told TechCrunch. “You can’t just ‘shut them down,’ which has made multifamily resilient and even grow in comparison to retail and industrial real estate.”
For example, when lockdowns went into effect, in-person property tours declined by an estimated 80% in a matter of weeks.
Knock did things like help property managers transition to a centralized and remote leasing model so remote agents could work across a large portfolio of properties rather than in a single on-site leasing office, noted Petry.
It also helped them adopt self-guided, virtual and live video-based leasing tools, so prospective renters could tour properties in person on their own or virtually.
“This transformation and modernization became a huge tailwind for our business in 2020,” Petry said. “Not only did we have a record year in terms of new customers, revenue growth and revenue retention, but our customers outperformed market averages for occupancy and rent growth as well.”
Looking ahead, the company says it will be using its new capital to (naturally!) hire across product, engineering, sales, marketing, customer success, finance and human resources divisions. It expects to grow headcount by 40% to 50% before year-end. It also plans to expand its product portfolio to include AI communications, fraud prevention, applicant screening and leasing, and intelligent forecasting.
Fifth Wall partner Vik Chawla, who is joining Knock’s board of directors, pointed out that the macroeconomic environment is driving institutional capital into multifamily real estate at an accelerated pace. This makes Knock’s offering even more timely in its importance, in the firm’s view.
The startup, he believes, outshines its competitors in terms of quality of product, technical prowess and functionality.
“The Knock team has accomplished so much in just a short period of time by attracting very high quality product design and engineering talent to ameliorate a nuanced pain point in the tenant acquisition process,” Chawla told TechCrunch.
In terms of fitting with its investment thesis, Chawla said companies like Knock can both benefit from Fifth Wall’s global corporate strategic partners “and simultaneously serve as a key offering which we can share with real estate industry leaders in different countries as a potential solution for their local markets.”
Population shifts mean more political might for relatively fewer people.
Polls show that pervasive skepticism is melting, partly because of the high efficacy rates in trials and the images of real people getting the shot.
A new study from Pew Research Center, released today, digs into the different ways that U.S. Democrats and Republicans use Twitter. Based on data collected between Nov. 11, 2019 and Sept. 14, 2020, the study finds that members of both parties tweet fairly infrequently, but a majority of Twitter’s most prolific users tend to swing left.
The report updates Pew’s 2019 study with similar findings. At that time, Pew found that 10% of U.S. adults on Twitter were responsible for 80% of all tweets from U.S. adults.
Today, those figures have changed. During the study period, the most active 10% of users produced 92% of all tweets by U.S. adults.
And of these highly active users, 69% identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents.
In addition, the 10% most active Democrats typically produce roughly twice the number of tweets per month (157) compared with the most active Republicans (79).
These highly-active users don’t represent how most Twitter users tweet, however.
Regardless of party affiliation, the majority of Twitter users post very infrequently, Pew found.
The median U.S. adult Twitter user posted just once per month during the time of the study. The median Democrat posts just once per month, while the median Republican posts even less often than that.
The typical adult also has very few followers, with the median
Democrat having 32 followers while the median Republican has 21. Democrats, however, tend to follow more accounts than Republicans do, at 126 vs. 71, respectively.
The new study additionally examined other differences in how members of the two parties use the platforms, beyond frequency of tweeting.
For starters, it found 60% of the Democrats on Twitter would describe themselves as very or somewhat liberal, compared with 43% of Democrats who don’t use Twitter. Self-identified conservatives on Twitter vs. conservatives not on the platform had closer shares, at 60% and 62%, respectively.
Pew also found that the two Twitter accounts followed by the largest share of U.S. adults were those belonging to former President Barack Obama (@BarackObama) and President Donald Trump
Not surprisingly, more Democrats followed Obama — 42% of Democrats did, vs. just 12% of Republicans. Trump, meanwhile, was followed by 35% of Republicans and just 13% of Democrats.
Other top political accounts saw similar trends. For instance, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) is followed by 16% of Democrats and 3% of Republicans. Fox News personalities Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) and Sean Hannity (@seanhannity), meanwhile, are both followed by 12% of Republicans but just 1% of Democrats.
This is perhaps a more important point than Pew’s study indicates, as it demonstrates that even though Twitter’s original goal was to build a “public town square” of sorts, where conversations could take place in the open, Twitter users have built the same isolated bubbles around themselves as they have elsewhere on social media.
Because Twitter’s main timeline only shows tweets and retweets from people you follow, users are only hearing their side of the conversation amplified back to them.
This problem is not unique to Twitter, of course. Facebook, for years, has been heavily criticized for delivering two different versions of reality to its users. An article from The WSJ in 2016 demonstrated how stark this contrast could be, when it showed a “blue” feed and “red” feed, side-by-side.
The problem is being exacerbated even more in recent months, as users from both parties are now exiting mainstream platforms, like Twitter, an isolating themselves even more. On the conservative side, users fled to free speech-favoring and fact check-eschewing platforms like Gab and Parler. The new social network Telepath, on the other hand, favors left-leaning users by aggressively blocking misinformation — often that from conservative news outlets — and banning identity-based attacks.
One other area Pew’s new study examined was the two parties’ use of hashtags on Twitter.
It found that no one hashtag was used by more than 5% of U.S. adults on Twitter during the study period. But there was a bigger difference when it came to the use of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, which was tweeted by 4% of Democrats on Twitter and just 1% of Republicans.
It’s somewhat concerning, too, that hashtags were used in such a small percentage of tweets.
While their use has fallen out of favor somewhat — using a hashtag can seem “uncool” — the idea with hashtags was to allow users a quick way to tap into the global conversation around a given topic. But this decline in user adoption indicates there are now fewer tweets that can connect users to an expanded array of views.
Twitter today somewhat addresses this problem through its “Explore” section, highlighting trends, and users can investigate tweets using its keyword search tools. But if Twitter really wants to burst users’ bubbles, it may need to develop a new product — one that offers a different way to connect users to the variety a conversations taking place around a term, whether hashtagged or not.
The Czech Republic, with the highest transmission rate in Europe, closed schools, bars and restaurants. In some countries in Central Europe, there is a critical shortage of doctors and nurses.
Unanticipated electoral developments are affecting both presidential campaigns in surprising ways.
The Trump administration’s moves to decouple the two economies means less leverage over Beijing’s green policies.
Old and ailing, they see exercising their fundamental right to vote as a way to have a say in a future they will probably never see.
The sharpest rise in negative views was in Australia, while unfavorable opinions jumped in the United States and Europe, a Pew survey found.
Some of what we saw was people cosplaying consciousness — symbolism that cost nothing and shifted no power.
Robert Unanue said the country was “blessed” to have the president’s leadership. Now, amid calls for a boycott, the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the U.S. is facing dismay from chefs and home cooks.
Young people are more likely to pack their bags — often for fear of infection — than other age groups, a Pew Research Center survey finds.
In the United States, the public has long had a divided opinion on the science of climate change—a divide that’s the product of an all-consuming culture war. As such, asking people whether thermometers have measured warming or whether research shows human activities caused that warming has more or less really been a question about someone’s preferred political party.
But that’s been gradually changing, and the latest Pew Research Center poll shows that support for actions to address climate change continues to grow. And there are clear majorities in favor of many of them.
The poll results are based on a survey of nearly 11,000 US adults in late April and early May.
Americans without retirement savings are increasingly moving in with their millennial children.
Many factors make blacks, especially black men, particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus.
A new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center shows a COVID-19 information divide between people who mostly get their news from social networks and those who rely on more traditional news sources.
Pew surveyed 8,914 adults in the U.S. during the week of March 10, dividing survey respondents by the main means they use to consume political and election news. In the group of users that reports getting most of their news from social media, only 37% of respondents said that they expected the COVID-19 vaccine to be available in a year or more — an answer aligned with the current scientific consensus. In every other sample with the exception of the local TV group, at least 50% of those surveyed answered the question correctly. A third of social media news consumers also reported that they weren’t sure about the vaccine availability.
Among people who get most of their news from social media, 57% reported that they had seen at least some COVID-19 information that “seemed completely made up.” For people who consume most of their news via print media, that number was 37%.
Most alarmingly, people who primarily get their news via social media perceived the threat of COVID-19 to be exaggerated. Of the social media news consumers surveyed, 45% answered that the media “greatly exaggerated the risks” posed by the novel coronavirus. Radio news consumers were close behind, with 44% believing the media greatly exaggerated the threat of the virus, while only 26% of print consumers — those more likely to be paying for their news — believed the same.
The full results were part of Pew’s Election News Pathways project, which explores how people in the U.S. consume election news.
One family laid off its nanny but wondered if she would video chat with the children for free. Across the country, undocumented household workers are being cast out with little help.