The $3 trillion U.S. agriculture industry sits on the fringes of the commercial real estate industry. From the obvious facts that farms cover 922 million acres of land and directly impact many retail locations’ business, to more tertiary effects like the fact that 70% of fresh water is being used for agriculture. The immediate impact I see from Ag Tech, is the increased efficiency in crop production which could reduce the need for as much farm land. This could create an increase of available land on the market and/or drop the cost of land in the U.S. Will this create more incentives for companies to build their headquarters/warehouses/data centers in these secondary markets, or just create a cycle of hypersupply?
Another way Ag Tech may impact commercial real estate is by moving farm land from the rural countryside, to a climate and nutrient controlled pod that can be located anywhere. Imagine going into a Whole-Amazons (see what I did there) for basil, and being able to choose your plant straight from a mini basil farm. With the whole retail industry espousing the need for “experiences” this prototype technology likely isn’t far from mass adoption. Or, imagine you’re a property owner with an unused 320 square feet (the footprint of a standard shipping container), now you can pack two acres of farmland into that space and be growing and selling crops year-round.
The feud between CoStar and Xceligent, which is expected to cost CoStar $20 million this year, has become old news. But, Xceligent isn’t going to go down without a fight. This week, Bisnow published the exclusive news that Xceligent is going after CoStar on the grounds of anticompetitive behavior. This counterclaim to CoStar’s lawsuit for intellectual property theft, states that the Commercial Real Estate giant is engaged in anticompetitive behavior, including employing internet blocks and data alteration practices to prevent users from sharing their property information with its competitors and violating restriction from the FTC to keep CoStar from becoming a monopoly. No matter how this lawsuit shake out, the ripples from the outcome will be felt across commercial real estate technology.
This week Google evened the self-driving car playing field by signing an agreement with Avis rental cars to manage their autonomous fleet (in Phoenix) – Waymo. While Google leads the pack in autonomous technology, the company had one big disadvantage compared to competitors like Uber or major automakers – a sprawling network of traditional cars and customers that could be transformed into an autonomous transport service customers. Along with a big boost in Avis’ stock price, this partnership marks a big step forward in how America views our transportation infrastructure.
The 114-year-old Ford Motor Company used to be one of America’s great innovators, but since losing 40% of their stock value in the last three years the company has struggled to distinguish itself in the 21st century. And, in the most recent blow, America’s second biggest car manufacturer is now suddenly worth less than 14-year-old Tesla. But, Ford’s new CEO, Jim Hackett, has plans to show that Ford is a company of the future. Hackett was previously the chairman of Ford Smart Mobility, which focuses on self-driving cars. His view of future transportation goes past the design of autonomous cars to fully integrated cities, saying, “The design of how that city wants to behave cannot be done in the analog system of painted lines on streets and stop signs. It’s not smart enough to regulate the equilibrium of what the city needs. Ford Motor Company has got a bright future in this because we build vehicles that will work in that system.”