Enters VC Realm with a $141M First Round

Continuing the recent game “come big or don’t come at all” when it comes to Internet infrastructure plays, commercial real estate industry enabler Inc. recently raised a whopping $141 million in its first round of institutional funding. The deal is believed to be the largest-ever Series A round for a real estate-related Internet company.

Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst led the transaction with a $45 million investment. Additional participants include TH Lee.Putnam Internet Partners, CMGI @Ventures’ B2B Fund, Gleacher Capital Partners, Goldman Sachs & Co., Bear Stearns & Co., Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Lehman Brothers and World Bank of Canada Private Equity.

Although the offering is officially closed, the New York-based issuer is still awaiting its $22.8 million check from CMGI @Ventures pending approval of the fund’s Hart-Scott-Rodino filing., which soon plans to change its name to The Realm, originally entered the venture market seeking $70 million, then bumped the number up to $100 million and ultimately settled on $140 million despite approximately $400 million of investor interest.

“We were glad that the market was so receptive, but we decided that we just couldn’t take any more dilution,” said Alfred Apps, chief executive with RealPulse. He added that the firm chose Hicks Muse as the lead due to its affiliation with Olympus Real Estate and chose the large assortment of investment banks on the basis of capital markets expertise and experience as commercial mortgage lenders.

“This is right down our fairway,” said Dan Blanks, managing director with Hicks Muse. “This is exactly the type of bricks-and-mortar transformation company that we want to get involved with.” plans to have its Web site up and running by June. When completed, the interactive site will act as a gateway to a suite of proprietary software and hardware that will enable all segments of the commercial real estate industry to conduct much of its day-to-day business online.

“In the world of the Internet where everyone’s looking for the gold infrastructure play, we see ourselves as the picks and shovels,” Apps said.

Proceeds from the transaction will primarily be used for acquisitions. Last week, the company announced that it had completed four such deals with commercial real estate companies ARGUS Financial Software, B.J. Murray, CTI Limited and Newstar Solutions.