Israeli-led Firm Raises $75 Million at $1 Billion Valuation

New York-based Compass becomes 'unicorn' just three years after it was founded.

Courtesy photo

Just three years after he cofounded the New York-based online real estate platform Compass, Israeli Ori Allon this week turned it into a unicorn – a startup with a $1 billion valuation.

The company, which aims to make residential property transactions more transparent and convenient through an online service, said Wednesday it had raised $75 million in an investment led by mutual fund operator Wellington Management. Venture capital firms Institutional Venture Partners and Thrive Capital joined the round.

Compass declined to say at what valuation the money was raised, but it was reported to be $1 billion — which would make it an increasingly rare case of a new unicorn. Bloomberg News said the number of startups commanding a sky-high valuation has dropped from about 25 at the end of last year to a single-digit total.

The company, which is based in New York, has 24 offices across the United States and plans to open soon in San Francisco and other cities. It was formed in 2013 by Allon, who is now executive chairman, and CEO Robert Reffkin, a former Goldman Sachs executive and White House aide.

Unlike many overseas startups with Israeli founders, Compass doesn’t have a research and development office in Israel. However, Jerusalem-born Allon retains a personal connection as chairman of the ownership group that controls the basketball team Hapoel Jerusalem.

Allon completed his military service in a combat unit, and undergraduate and master’s degrees in computer science from Monash University, in Melbourne, before going on to do his PhD at the University of New South Wales.

While pursuing his doctorate, Allon developed an algorithm to improve search engine functions, which Google bought in 2006 and hired him to work at the company’s headquarters. Before forming Compass, Allon was director of engineering at Twitter’s New York office, after selling his startup, Julpan, to the company in 2011.