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Electronics Veteran Wants to Bring Tech Velocity to Housing Construction

Several startups have tried to take a bite of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent annually on the construction of residential buildings in the United States. Few have succeeded. The latest to try, and perhaps the most ambitious, is Katerra. Led by several veterans of electronics and supply chain management, Katerra is now trying to put $130 million in recently raised venture capital to work.

That’s in the hands of CEO Michael Marks, who led contract manufacturing giant and Apple supplier Flextronics Inc. for 13 years before moving into private equity and now prefabricated construction. In an interview, he says he expects Katerra to complete $1.5 billion to $2 billion in bookings this year for projects that will be constructed at its Arizona factory. The Menlo Park company, which was founded in 2015 and has more than 550 employees, is valued on paper at about $1 billion.

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We’ll lose $30 million to $40 million this year. I’d expect $10 million to $20 million in losses or $0 in losses next year. From there, as all this backlog gets into production and margins get better, we get to be very profitable.

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“Stick-built construction is going away in America, you watch this. In short order.”