AppFolio has doubled down on its core property management service with its first-ever real estate software acquisition, a San Diego-based startup called RentLinx.
The Santa Barbara Web-based software firm already offers a platform for landlords with 150 to 8,000 units to manage accounting, billing and vacancies. With the RentLinx acquisition, the company hopes to help its clients better market vacancies.
With the deal, AppFolio has also secured rights to the website ShowMeTheRent.com, owned by RentLinx, immediately giving its clients greater listing presence and expanding its client sphere.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Although AppFolio hasn’t been particularly acquisitive to date, company CEO Brian Donahoo said RentLinx provided a solution to problems clients had brought forth.
“It has to be right. We don’t go out to seek to acquire, but in this case we had partnered with RentLink, we loved their technology and how they ran their business, and it made perfect sense,” Donahoo said. “If we found more like that, we’d probably corner them.”
The deal will add 10 employees to App-Folio’s workforce. Since the firm already has facilities in San Diego, it will not relocate RentLinx employees and plans to combine the two offices into a larger one sometime next year.
Donahoo said the company’s expansion of its real estate services should not be seen as a challenge to South Coast property management neighbor Yardi, which services accounts at the higher end of the market, as opposed to AppFolio’s small- to mid-sized clients.
“We really just want to bring more value to our customers,” Donahoo said. “[Our software] needs to be priced and packaged in a way they can consume it. It needs to be out-of-the-box easy to use, and I think that’s where we are significantly different [from Yardi].”
AppFolio makes Web-based software that targets business niches. The Santa Barbara-based startup was co-founded in 2007 by the minds behind Citrix Online and Versora. Though it has focused on building online business software for small and mid-sized property managers, it also has a product called SecureDocs, a “virtual data room.”
“Our customers buy this base software that helps them manage their business, and then they can also add a lot of other value-plus services, like for processing payments,” Donahoo said. “In the long run, RentLinx will have a portal like that where customers who need assistance will add the RentLinx platform to their AppFolio purchase.”
Adding RentLinx to the suite streamlines the platform’s capabilities. The service syndicates listings to well-known real estate sites like Zillow and Trulia and will allow property managers to post available vacancies in a number of places at once, then manage any inbound leads they receive.
The RentLinx extension filters leads through a single management system, whether they come via phone, email or otherwise, Donahoo said. “Once we have [a listing] out there, instead of having a zillion random emails coming to you, you want them all to come into one central place,” he said.
Donahoo said the new service will also help property managers better understand their marketing dollars.
“RentLinx helps property managers buy marketing, so in this case it is giving their listing more presence, and it allows them to buy it from a central place for a fixed price, and then manage the efficiency of that and find out what the return was,” he said.
Donahoo said RentLinx’s customer support capabilities are what drew AppFolio’s attention, and an analogous company culture sealed the deal.
“Our customers struggle with some of the marketing aspect of trying to attract tenants,” he said. “RentLinx solves those problems really beautifully in an interesting way, and it also was a company that I thought developed technology in a great way and was made up of smart people.”