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Peek announces new CTO

Straub previously held leadership roles at Amazon and numerous startup ventures

Peek, a leasing-enablement platform that aims to simplify home searching, today announced appointing James Straub as Chief Technology Officer, according to a press release shared with FinLedger.

The company says Straub’s appointment follows its recent $2.5 million seed funding round, and will support the company’s growth as it enters its next phase of development.

Prior to joining Peek, Straub spent six years at Amazon where he led a team of over 25 to launch AWS App Mash at re:Invent 2018. This time at Amazon followed and preceded time spent pursuing entrepreneurial ventures, including a recent startup aimed at using spatial data to map out event spaces.

Straub says it was this experience that led him to Peek, where he plans to continue using data to showcase spaces, via virtual tours, in order to further build trust between real estate professionals and prospective renters.

“We’re trying to make it easier for people to to view apartments and really find their next home online from the comfort of their couch versus driving around everyplace,” Straub told FinLedger. “It’s the simple idea of wasting people’s time less. We’re wasting less gas too, and there’s an ecology aspect there that I think most people don’t catch on to.”

Austin Lo and Chris Kostoulas co-founded Peek after meeting on Craiglist during their apartment search in New York City, and set out to make an easier way for tenants and owners to rent spaces.

Fast forward through the pandemic to now, and the company has focused on providing virtual leasing tours that give people the ability to view potential rental units from their own homes. It is currently used in more than 150,000 units and has partnered with Greystar, Toll Brothers and Brookfield, according to Commercial Observer.

“When we talk about this, we talk about how we want this to be the new e-commerce of real estate. We want this to be something where you can go find your property and check out, and we’re seeing evidence that this is the case. Even as everything opens back up, people don’t want to drive around to 10 different properties to find their next home,” Straub said, explaining how demand for virtual tours has continued following the pandemic.

“They want to get more than just static photos. They want that virtual tour. Context is so important in understanding the space, and you just don’t get the context from a flat photo,” he said.

Looking forward Straub says that his first and foremost goals are maintaining the success that Peek has acquired until now, and ensuring customer satisfaction while working to scale the company and product.

“We need to be that workforce multiplier, and allow one person to do the three or four people’s jobs that it would have taken before. It’d be great to be the 10x, so that’s a matter of scale and that’s important. And then quality. I think quality means more than just no bugs. Good APIs. Good documentation. I think we’re probably in an area where we need to double down on that and really focus more. I think the industry as a whole, and I’m not trying to trash other people, hasn’t really thought of multifamily,” he said.

“We are so fortunate to have James join our executive team,” stated Peek co-founder & CEO Austin Lo, in the release. “James’ extensive experience launching startups and delivering products for Amazon will be leveraged to efficiently build out Peek’s advanced technology, all with the goal of optimizing the discovery phase of the home search.”

In other recent proptech news, Juno announced the appointment of its first Chief Product Officer and Chief Business Officer. Thirty Capital also launched a new academy to train commercial real estate professionals.

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