Avenue 8 CEO On End Of Brokerage: “We’re Going All-In On Sidekick”

Avenue 8 CEO On End Of Brokerage: “We’re Going All-In On Sidekick”

San Francisco’s Avenue 8, long a tech-minded independent brokerage, will stop working as a real estate company to focus on its AI brokerage productivity solution, Sidekick.

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San Francisco-based Avenue 8 is ceasing operations as a brokerage and becoming a software company, Inman has learned in an exclusive press release. It has offices across the Bay Area, Greater Los Angeles, New York City and Palm Springs.

The company made the decision in order to focus on scaling Sidekick, its artificial intelligence-based brokerage productivity solution. Agents are being provided more details on the move today, according to co-CEO and co-founder Michael Martin, who spoke to Inman about the shift.

Avenue 8’s Michael Martin

“Avenue 8 as a company will remain; we’re going all-in on Sidekick,” Martin said. “We told our team and most of our agents last week, and we’ll be talking again today to walk them through the transition.”

The call will be difficult, Martin said, but the company is bullish on how Sidekick can help the industry.

For $25 per month, the AI allows users to request help with a number of common real estate business tasks using a minimal interface. As it goes, it learns each user’s preferences to ensure it responds to, say, a person’s specific location or workflow habits.

Sidekick can pull MLS data to generate market reports and use listing images to generate property descriptions, as well as execute client communications and marketing campaigns, retrieve mortgage product information and local sales data, and generally create in moments what many agents would traditionally take hours to produce for a client or pitch meeting.

Martin said upon Sidekick’s debut in November 2023 that business speed has become crucial for agents and that a measurable impact of AI will come in its role as a catalyst. He also made clear plans to roll it out as a standalone product.

“Even if you’ve been working in the industry 20-30 years, the ability to quickly generate, analyze, and assemble information across a variety of modalities is incredibly challenging,” Martin said in a November email to Inman. “It’s not about having a personality or a face or a name — it’s about functionality and speed.”

Martin and Avenue 8 co-founder Justin Fichelson are not the only real estate brokers or agents to develop and spin out in-house technology, but the move carries more weight in the context of the market, AI’s role in it, and the vagaries surrounding the final fallout of the commission settlements.

“We’ve always believed technology can have an outsized impact on the industry and we wanted to create a platform that can support agents; that continues,” Martin told Inman on a phone call. “This is such a competitive industry and I think that with changes that will be coming on the commission side, it’s like, ‘Let’s all stop fighting with each other and figure out how we can do best by the folks in the industry.’”

Martin said that Sidekick will allow his team and technology to best benefit the industry. The software has already been selected by Miami Association of Realtors and Beaches MLS, and the San Francisco Association of Realtors.

“Focusing on Sidekick allows us to seize this unique moment of change to better serve our industry,” said Fichelson in the press release. “We started Avenue 8 convinced of a better way to support agents and brokerages, and we’ve developed an innovative technology that does exactly that. We are, of course, sensitive to the impact this strategic shift will have on our employees and agents, and we are committed to supporting them through this period and as they pursue new opportunities. We’re grateful for their commitment and dedication to the company’s success over the past five years.”

Sidekick was recognized at the 28th Annual Webby Awards as “Best AI App” in the “Product & Service” and “Work & Productivity” categories across all industries that submitted products.

Email Craig C. Rowe

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