2018 State of Technology Luncheon Retrospective

On Friday June 1st we had the pleasure of both sponsoring and attending the 2018 State of Technology Luncheon featuring Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman, along with more than 750 regional executives and leaders from a variety of industries focused on innovation and technology.

The big theme that defined this Tech Alliance event was housing, technology and big data, and the interaction amongst all three. Speakers from Redfin, Washington State University, Loftium, Blokable and Quadrant, focused in on technology’s potential in shaping the future of the city of Seattle and urban housing in general.

As housing affordability and homelessness are issues that plague cities across the country, the Tech Alliance sought to create discourse around new solutions to solve this complex situation. As the issue of housing, homeless, and technology are far too complex to tackle in any one setting, here are three take-aways from the luncheon that stood out from the rest:

Tech companies have a responsibility to work with legislators

Redfin’s CEO, Glenn Kelman, discussed with Streem Chief Revenue Officer, Liz Pearce how tech companies can be involved in making sure that the city of Seattle remains affordable for everyone. They discussed how our large tech companies not only shape the region, but our society at large, and both agreed that Seattleites are eager to find solutions to not end up in the same situation as San Francisco, where the city has lost its personality as housing costs far have exceeded what anyone outside of the tech industry can afford. As the conversation got centered around whether big companies need to help address the problems their growth has helped to create, Kelman pointed out that tech companies have a responsibility to work with legislators to make sure that cities like Seattle will continue to be a city for everyone.

The sharing economy provides new ways of generating income

Trying to innovate in the tricky space of urban housing is not easy, but Yifan Zhang, CEO and founder of Loftium, explained how the venture-funded startup makes homeownership possible in expensive cities by working with first-time homebuyers to use income generated from Airbnb as down a payment. Essentially, Loftium is fronting home buyers’ down payment, by later collecting a share of their Airbnb rental income in return.

Utilizing cutting edge smart technology can significantly cut construction and living cost

The company Blokable is on a mission to make housing affordable for everyone. Aaron Holm, Co-CEO, talked about Blokable’s smart housing units that utilize smart technology and are modular and efficient, which shortens the building cycle for a range of housing options and can result in decreased living costs. This allows for more affordable units that can easily fit into varied environments.

In the same vein, Quadrant Homes President, Ken Krivanec, discussed how Quadrant’s homes will have new standards for including smart technology. Quadrant is adding a variety of energy saving, security improving, connected products, and cutting edge technology to their homes from many local companies to allow customers to reap the benefits.

The event highlighted the interconnectivity between housing and technology, and how that relationship can help turn the page for cities that are struggling to pace with their exceptional growth. The tech and entrepreneurial community will continue to play a critical role in finding innovative solutions that not only impact their business, but the overall communities they live and work in. We hope to see you at next year’s event.

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