Andrew Benioff, MBA ’04 visited with the students of Cornell University’s Baker Program in Real Estate for the program’s Distinguished Speaker Series on Thursday, April 13th. During his presentation, Andrew touched on a broad range of topics including his primary business lines as Founder and Managing Partner of Llenrock Group, LLC, a real estate investment banking and advisory firm, and Principal at Linden Lane Advisors, LLC, a value-added real estate investment firm. The group also discussed a wide range of topics that will directly impact Cornell real estate students following graduation, including leveraging the Cornell real estate network, advantages and disadvantages of different types of employers, and ongoing career advice.
Andrew began his presentation with an overview of Llenrock Group’s core business and recent transactions. Llenrock Group (named for “Cornell” spelled backwards) is a commercial real estate intermediary that advises and places capital throughout the capital stack across all major property types and markets. Andrew walked through recent capital placements that Llenrock has facilitated, including a mezzanine note on the W Hotel in Atlanta and preferred equity on a loft apartment redevelopment known as the Fairmount at Brewerytown in Philadelphia. While construction lenders have become more selective over the past year, Andrew indicated that there is still a significant amount of capital sitting on the sidelines that is willing to provide construction debt if the sponsor and transaction fit their requirements.
Andrew also provided background on Linden Lane Capital Partners, the principal business formed by Benioff and his partners. LLCP focuses on value add investments including new development and redevelopment within a three hour drive of Philadelphia. LLCP is currently working on a wide range of transactions, including a $40+ million transit-oriented multifamily residential project in suburban Philadelphia and a small value add self storage facility that LLCP recently acquired for approximately $1 million. Linden Lane pursued the self storage facility as a way to enter and test the self storage market, with the potential to add additional self storage units to LLCP’s portfolio. Andrew also spoke to the need to brand LLCP separately from Llenrock Group and maintain a clear separation of businesses so that clients are comfortable with the quality of advising provided by Llenrock Group.
The second half of Andrew’s discussion with Baker Program students was oriented toward career advice, including the power of the Cornell real estate network. Andrew facilitated a lively discussion centered on the advantages and disadvantages of larger and smaller firms, as well as the risks and rewards of entrepreneurial real estate investment. As the founder of multiple real estate companies, Benioff offered a candid assessment of real estate entrepreneurship and shared tales of sleepless nights with his own investments on the line. In addition, Andrew offered his most important advice to young professionals in the real estate industry: continue to network.
“If people would spend some of their time on a daily basis connecting with others and networking more regularly, they wouldn’t have to look for a job because a job will find them,” said Benioff. “You should spend about 60% or 70% of your work week working hard, busting your butt, doing a great job wherever you’re working; 20% to 30% should be spent either if you have family or just in free time or relaxing and trying to blow off some steam because you won’t do anybody any good if all you do is work, you just become less and less effective; and about 5% to 10% of your time constantly networking, going out and meeting folks and meeting with people you’ve interviewed with before, or connecting with people at other real estate companies.”
Benioff is the founder and chairman of the Cornell Real Estate Council’s Philadelphia Chapter, which hosts monthly lunches and also welcomes current Cornell real estate students for industry career treks in the city of Philadelphia. The Cornell Real Estate Council continues to encourage the growth of its regional chapters in major cities across the United States and internationally.
Andrew Benioff’s interview with the Cornell Real Estate Review is embedded below: