St. Louis Park-based WolfNet Technologies is joining forces with OJO Labs, an artificial-intelligence company that wants to transform the homebuying process with an interactive tool.
Austin, Texas-based OJO announced the merger Wednesday morning. Terms were not disclosed.
WolfNet is the biggest real estate data manager in the country, managing more than 100 million property records that account for 99 percent of all active Multiple Listing Services (MLS) property listings in the United States and Canada. Its clients include real estate franchises, brokerages, agents and real estate technology providers, including nearly a half million real estate agents and brokers that use WolfNet data services on proprietary apps and/or websites.
OJO Labs is a tech company that’s focused on developing a consumer-focused, conversational artificial intelligence [AI] software called “OJO,” which will function like a digital assistant for home buyers and sellers via mobile messaging and web experiences.
OJO will use volumes of public records data, school information and other relevant data to train its robots, or “bots,” to help consumers quickly make buying and selling decisions. One of the goals is helping home buyers narrow their search more quickly than a random Google or real estate website search.
John Berkowitz, CEO of OJO Labs, said in a statement that partnering with WolfNet — which manages what’s considered the most complete, accurate and current real estate database — makes strategic sense for the company.
“The MLS has the best property data there is, and with WolfNet, the speed and quality of those feeds will be key components of the data powering OJO,” he said.
Kenneth Jenny, a California-based expert on the residential real estate brokerage industry, said the merger will help create a completely different buying and selling experience that will become a model for other industries.
“But it will not eliminate the [real estate] industry,” he said. “It enjoins the industry in that it empowers the agents and those in their sphere to better serve the consumer.”
WolfNet was founded 22 years ago by Joel MacIntosh, who calls the deal a “next level collaboration” for his business and the real estate industry.
“The OJO AI assistant is in its infancy but is already the most personalized approach to real estate ever created,” he said.
OJO Labs was founded in 2015 by Berkowitz and David Rubin. The company recently raised more than $28 million in capital and has investors that include Realogy Holdings Corp., Royal Bank of Canada, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures and ServiceMaster.
The combined companies will have more than 290 employees and will be based in Austin, Texas. OJO does its AI training at an office in Vieux Fort, St. Lucia. WolfNet will continue to be based at its new offices in St. Louis Park, where MacIntosh will remain in charge of its 43 employees.