SMS Assist raises $150M, reaching for unicorn status

by Andreas Rekdal
June 7, 2016

It's been a huge morning for Chicago tech. In addition to the news that Signal just raised $30 million, the city just became home to another unicorn.

SMS Assist — whose cloud-based software lets property owners and real estate professionals manage properties on the go — raised a $150 million Series D round from Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, bringing its funding total just north of $250 million. According to Crain’s, the deal values SMS at $1 billion, making the real estate tech company the latest entrant to Chicago's unicorn stable.

“SMS Assist’s continued, rapid growth into new markets proves how our technology is bringing savings and profitability to our customers and affiliates. Partnering with Goldman Sachs Investment Partners at this stage opens up extensive possibilities for our technology and fully-managed business solution,” said Chairman and CEO Michael Rothman in a statement. “This investment allows SMS Assist to continue developing our technology and capabilities as we move closer towards our goal of servicing one million unique locations.”

To date, SMS Assist's solution is used to manage 120,000 locations, connecting real estate professionals with 500,000 maintenance technicians across the country to keep their facilities clean and functional. By streamlining the process of service procurement, the company’s software aims to reduce the cost of managing properties while improving service quality and customer satisfaction.

The company’s customers include a number of Fortune 500 companies including JPMorgan Chase, Family Dollar and O’Reilly Automotive.

“This is a huge market opportunity, yet historically the sector has lacked innovation and customer needs were largely unmet,” said Christopher Dawe, co-head of the venture capital and growth equity team at Goldman Sachs Investment Partners in a statement. “SMS Assist stands out to us as the only player delivering a scalable solution that improves both quality and transparency to its customer base while at the same time reducing costs.”

Dawe's team at Goldman Sachs Investment Partners has made previous investments in tech standards like Uber, Facebook, Pinterest and Spotify.

“This investment is consistent with our philosophy of seeking exceptional teams that are applying technology to make industries more efficient,” he added. “SMS Assist’s ability to deliver tangible savings to both customers and service providers is a testament to its technology platform and operational expertise, and fits with our broader view that ‘managed’ marketplaces are disrupting incumbent players.”

Founded in 1995, SMS Assist’s rise to unicorn status is a testament to the old adage that slow and steady wins the race. In 2011 and 2013, SMS raised $15 million and $45 million, each from Pritzker Group Venture Capital. In 2015, the company raised another $45 million Series C from Insight Venture Partners. And unlike many of its coastal unicorn peers, SMS is already profitable.

According to Crain’s, SMS Assist hired 175 people last year, bringing its employee total to 550. We can expect to see similar hiring numbers for the company this year.

Image via SMS Assist.

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