Back in 2016, executives at homebuilding giant Lennar Corp. sat down with the founders of Doma, which uses technology to speed the underwriting of title insurance. Worried that the startup didn’t have sufficient experience in either real estate or insurance, Lennar decided to pass on investing in the firm. “They said it was a disaster of an idea,” said Max Simkoff, CEO of Doma.
More than two years later, Lennar had a change of heart. With the real estate startup sector taking off, Lennar decided to invest $50 million for a stake in Doma and sold the startup its own title insurance underwriting division.
Helping to overcome Lennar’s earlier doubts and bring about the deal was a chance encounter between Lennar’s head of venture capital investing, Eric Feder, and former Uber executive Emil Michael, who was advising Doma. The two met on a beach in the Caribbean while both were vacationing there, giving Michael an opportunity to talk up the young firm. It was “a truly random set of circumstances,” Simkoff said.