Locals Revive Failed Webdigs After Buying Its Assets

Fiontrai II, an investment company that was started earlier this year by Brenton Hayden and Ryan Marvin of Renters Warehouse, bought the trademarks, website, and proprietary software of Webdigs, Inc., a publicly-held online real estate brokerage that has ceased operations.

Golden Valley-based Fiontrai II, which was founded in January by local entrepreneurs Brenton Hayden and Ryan Marvin, has purchased the assets of Webdigs, Inc., a Minneapolis-based public company that operated an online residential real estate brokerage.

Hayden, 26, is the CEO and founder of Golden Valley-based Renters Warehouse, a residential property management and rental company. Marvin, 28, is a co-owner of Renters Warehouse and a member of the family that owns Marvin Windows and Doors.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. The deal included all of Webdigs' assets, including its trademarks and proprietary software. Webdigs was in the process of ceasing operations at the time of the sale and is now a shell company, one that has shareholders but no assets or earnings. Hayden told Twin Cities Business that such companies are typically bought out by private companies that want to go public, but do not want to go through the expensive process of making an initial public offering.

Hayden and Marvin started Fiontrai II in order to acquire local property management and real estate companies. The two are also investors in several other local companies.

Webdigs primarily operated the website Webdigs.com, which launched in July 2007 and is no longer operational. It allowed buyers to search any home listed in the Northstar Multiple Listing Service (MLS), an extensive database of home sales and listings. After buyers chose homes they'd like to see in person, a Webdigs agent or broker took them on a tour of the homes, and if a deal was struck, Webdigs would handle negotiations and paperwork. The company also allowed sellers to list their properties on its own site, as well as on the MLS database, for a fee-which it claimed was lower than traditional brokerage fees.

Hayden said that his plan is to re-launch the website in June and introduce some new features, such as allowing sellers to list their property for $1 for the first month.

Fiontrai II, which will oversee Webdigs.com, currently has three employees-Hayden, Marvin, and a computer programmer. Hayden said in the next three months, the company will hire for an administrative position. He added that there will also be “a heavy recruitment phase for new licensed agents,” but did not specify when or how many.