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Real estate giant JLL is buying Boston property software firm Building Engines for $300M

Deal follows Boston-based HqO’s acquisition of a rival firm in Europe

Tim Curran will stay with JLL after the real estate giant buys the Boston firm he leads, Building Engines.Photo courtesy of Building Engines

It has been a busy week for two of Boston’s best known property-software firms, with Building Engines agreeing to be sold to Chicago-based real estate giant Jones Lang LaSalle and HqO announcing the acquisition of a rival from Europe.

JLL on Thursday said it will buy Building Engines, a maker of property-management software, for $300 million. The current executive team at the 150-person company, led by chief executive Tim Curran, is expected to join JLL’s roughly 3,000-person software arm, JLL Technologies, after the deal closes later this year. Building Engines, which was founded about two decades ago, serves more than 1,000 clients and more than 35,000 properties.


The firm’s software helps landlords manage and coordinate everything from visitor check-ins to equipment replacement. JLL is one of its biggest customers, and many JLL clients use its software, too.

Curran said Building Engines has more than tripled in size, as measured by staff and revenue, since 2016 when private equity firm Wavecrest Growth Partners invested in it. Other investors that are being cashed out include River Cities Capital, MassMutual Ventures, and Camber Creek. He said a number of private equity firms and real estate companies took a look at Building Engines when it hit the market earlier this year.

“We wanted a bigger partner, either a private equity partner or a strategic partner to take us the next five years, the next 20 years,” Curran said. “We had many to choose from. JLL was just the perfect home for us.”

Jay Koster, president of investor services at JLL, said Building Engines stands out in part because of its global reach, across 50 countries. He said Building Engines will also provide JLL with a treasure trove of data about building operations.

Landlords are increasingly turning to these “proptech” firms to improve the tenant experience and to gain efficiencies.


“We’re seeing buildings become more like a computer, more automated,” said Sharad Rastogi, who leads JLL Technologies.

HqO chief executive Chase Garbarino said many of his clients also use Building Engines software; HqO’s app is designed to be tenant-facing, with features such as food-ordering and booking fitness classes, while Building Engines is more focused on “back-of-the-house” infrastructure.

HqO didn’t disclose how much it is paying for the European business, Office App. However, the Boston-based company did say it is now valued at more than $500 million, a sum that includes both the Office App deal price and the valuation from its most recent investment round. With Amsterdam-based Office App on board, HqO now has about 200 employees. While HqO has clients in the United Kingdom and France, it has been trying to expand significantly in Europe, Garbarino said. Office App’s presence in 24 countries will enable HqO to do exactly that.

HqO’s new investors in the $60 million funding round in April included global real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield and Boston construction titan Suffolk. JLL is also among HqO’s investors.

“COVID has accelerated technology adoption,” Garbarino said. “If you’re going to go into an office, it had better be a damn good experience, and a lot of that needs to be powered through technology. ... Landlords and managers are just going to have to step up their game.”

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.