Brandon Taubman is an investor with 15 years’ professional experience across various sectors including investment banking, derivative valuation, professional sports, and most recently commercial real estate.
He started his career at Ernst & Young in 2007 where he valuated exotic equity and credit derivatives and consulted for AIG FP, Lehman and the Fed during the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
Following EY, he moved to Barclays Investment Bank where he worked on the Equity Derivatives team valuating and risk-assessing assets. He spent three years there, rising from Analyst to Assistant Vice President.
Simultaneous with his career in the finance industry, Brandon engineered a successful system to wager in daily fantasy sports contests. His success in daily fantasy led him to a career change; accepting a job as a Baseball Operations Analyst for the Houston Astros in early 2013.
Brandon was a pivotal part of the architecture and rebuild of the Houston Astros from 2013 to late 2019, rising from Analyst to Assistant General Manager. He earned four promotions over his time at the Astros, and eventually oversaw the three player evaluation functions (pro, amateur and international scouting) and the research and development departments.
Following his time at the Astros, Brandon started his commercial real estate venture at Stablewood where he co-leads investment decisions and analytics.
Brandon also partnered with RIA, a sports analytics company that makes direct investments in professional athletes, to lead the team’s player evaluation process and to support the development of its world-class projection systems.
Brandon holds a B.S. from Cornell University. He is native to Long Island, New York, and currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Leah, and two children, Teddy and Millie.
Where did the idea for Stablewood come from?
In early 2020, Glenn Lowenstein, formerly CIO of Hines and CEO of Lionstone, recruited a world-class management team including half experienced institutional real estate investors and half data scientists, including myself. Our shared vision is to combine the best of traditional real estate with proprietary analytics to better integrate previously inefficient processes throughout the real estate investment life cycle. We are essentially an institutionally-backed real estate investment firm that is using technology to find undervalued investment opportunities in private equity real estate.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wear two hats at Stablewood. First, I co-lead the investments process, which includes acquisitions, dispositions and lease extensions. I also help to source debt and equity for our businesses. Second, as the head of data analytics, I identify and validate datasets that could give us an edge in investment, and I design tools and build models that help us make better investment decisions.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The response that comes to mind is “ by bringing evidence”. There is no shortage of great ideas, but to make them actionable, you need evidence to support their legitimacy. That requires a combination of qualitative research, hard data, and subject matter expertise. Sometimes the evidence doesn’t support the initial hypothesis. Sometimes it does, and that starts an expedition to further develop and raise capital for your idea.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One trend that really excites me is the pace of introduction of new technologies in commercial real estate. I saw an exponential growth in technology and data in both finance and in baseball. Now I am observing a similar trend in real estate. I am excited because I believe I have the experience and skills to help make the data actionable and insightful for Stablewood.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Notes. I am obsessive about note-taking. Whether an in-person meeting or a Zoom, I always take notes. Following meetings, I curate my notes to identify action items and follow-up questions. I find this habit enables me to prioritize my work and offer valuable feedback to my teammates.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would advise my younger self not to be as competitive and to focus more on the subtle day-to-day joys of working with great people. I am learning later in my career that being a good teammate and mentor is the greatest career accomplishment of all.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Turning to baseball, no one agrees that batters should adjust their positioning within the batter’s box intra plate appearance. Batters are creatures of habit and position themselves the same way no matter what pitcher they are facing and specifically no matter the pitcher’s handedness, repertoire and pitch location strategy. But that is wrong. I have completed analysis suggesting that batters could be 100 points better in OPS if they positioned themselves within the batter’s box more strategically. Effectively, a simple change in tactics could like to a 3-5 win bump for a team per season.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Entrepreneurs should take a scientific approach to decision-making so that their decisions are evidence-based. When things don’t go right, you have the data you need to admit you’re wrong learn along the way, and maximize your opportunity for success in the future.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
At Stablewood, we have a strategy to invest heavily in the career development of our people. That means formal training in hard skills as well as positioning people within the company to be responsible for projects that do not necessarily fit their resume. We want to be a ventures company that launches and grows new real estate strategies every year. Our plan for rapid growth means we need great people to grow into more senior roles along the way.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One failure I had when I was at the Astros, among so many, was trying to implement a new technology with players that tracked their swings. My goal was to gain better data on and knowledge of swing planes. My failure was that I completely misestimated the adoption rate among players because I did not do a good enough job marketing the potential benefits to players. This was a valuable learning experience for me. On subsequent technology implementation efforts, I knew to couple my need to collect data with the player’s needs to understand the prospective benefits of the technology to them.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Get involved in the “vertical farming” space. Traditional farming on huge swaths of land is inefficient in land use, water use, and transportation costs. Indoor vertical farming at scale is the way of the future. I think we will see a transformation in agriculture over the next 10-20 years like the one we have seen with EVs in the automotive space. Find a way to make money from vertical farming, as an operator or investor.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Easy. My wife and I went out to a great dinner on Friday. We are largely home bodies these days as we are anchored by two young children, including our newborn. So much of our time and effort goes towards running a functional household and so its priceless to me to have alone time with my wife. I loved every minute of our recent dinner.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Python and R are the two obvious ones. And probably Python over R. These are open-source programming language that can help you do just about anything, from statistics and machine learning to programming applications. These are the skills that hiring managers demand today. Proficiency in Excel and Word is no longer going to carry applicants and organizations forward.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Superforecasting: The Art of Science and Prediction. Fantastic book that is a great reminder of the limitations of data analytics, and more importantly the opportunity to combine subject matter experience and data into the best performing decision-making models of all.
What is your favorite quote?
Opportunity is where luck meets preparation.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.