BY DAN ORLANDO DECEMBER 17, 2015
Tal Kerret, president of Silverstein Properties, entered the real estate world after a dinner with both his father-in-law and the company’s chairman, Larry Silverstein, in 2011.
“It’s hard to say no to Larry, repeatedly,” joked Kerret, who is married to Silverstein’s daughter, Lisa. “He’s a terrific man.”
Since coming onboard as executive vice president, Kerret has launched Silver Suites Offices at 7 World Trade Center, and taken on the task of overseeing Silver Suites Residences at Silver Towers.
By January of 2013, the former chairman and co-founder of Oberon Media, Inc., a casual games platform and solution provider, was promoted to chief investment officer. Not long after, he had earned his current role of president.
“Every year I progressed,” Kerret told Real Estate Weekly while applauding Silverstein’s workplace culture. “This is a family-run business,” he added.
But family run businesses are not the only types of ventures that Kerret supports. Earlier this month, American Friends of Tel Aviv University, a national non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Israel’s largest institution of higher learning, recognized the school’s alumnus at its annual gala.
“We are delighted to recognize Tal Kerret’s remarkable achievements as we host the first major celebration of Tel Aviv University’s 60th anniversary,” said Gail Reiss, president & CEO of American Friends of TAU.
“Tal is an outstanding leader and innovator in the real estate industry, and a shining example of Tel Aviv University’s alumni over the last 60 years.”
The award was due in large part for his work in the traditional aspects of real estate, including managing and monitoring Silverstein’s portfolio of assets, devising strategies for growth and communicating with investors.
Kerret’s tireless efforts geared towards helping other entrepreneurial-minded professionals in New York also garnered his former school’s attention.
Recently, Kerret launched SilverTech Ventures, a collaboration with Silverstein Properties that fosters a community of successful technology entrepreneurs in New York City.
Kerret described the program as a platform on which young companies can grow and eventually become large, successful entities.
“Those that are supported by the right people win,” said Kerret. “We’re trying to help the startups, if we can, to become more successful. It’s a part of building a community.”
However, he was quick to add that aiding fledgling ventures is about more than just potential financial gains, it’s also about helping entrepreneurs create “a better place for people to live, work, and spend their life.”
Four of the startup initiatives that took part in the SilverTech program were sold last year, a stat that caught Tel Aviv University’s eye.
The school prides itself on its dedication to entrepreneurial ventures. It is ranked as one of the ten best institutions of its kind for nurturing startups, sitting beside schools such as Stanford, MIT, and Harvard.
Kerret said that many entrepreneurs in Israel are drawn to the U.S. because of the health of the markets for their particular venture.
After spending significant amounts of time in five U.S. cities, he feels that New York is the “best suited city” when it comes to fostering tech growth.
“New York is very entrepreneurial to start with,” said Kerret, who feels that the access to talent and capital are hard to find elsewhere. “It’s also geographically — in terms of time zones — easier for companies out of Europe and Israel to work with.”
The access to a qualified workforce is especially strong in the lower areas of the city, according to Kerret, who points out that Brooklyn, lower Manhattan, and the Jersey side of the Hudson each house a substantial number of young professionals.
He credits this reservoir of quality talent as a major driver for Midtown South and Downtown’s success.
“Silverstein not only expected (the commercial growth in these areas) we were driving a lot of it. We believe that downtown is the most accessible place in the nation, and definitely in this area,” said Kerret.
He credits the accessibility of the area in large part for helping lure new tenants such as one-time Midtown fixture, Conde Nast, south.
But the more reasonable prices are also sweetening the deal for incoming tenants.
“Downtown you can get a much better value than you can anywhere else in the city,” said Kerret.
Among those pursuing that value will likely be companies that benefited from Kerret’s guidance.
“It’s a very important piece of my life,” said Kerret. “It’s a passion of mine. I take it very seriously. I spend most of my free time — other than with my family — focusing on how can we help entrepreneurs and startups succeed.
“I am delighted to support Tel Aviv University on its 60th anniversary. I spent four happy years there studying math and computer science and met many friends and colleagues. TAU was a great foundation for my career as an entrepreneur.”
Now a fixture in New York’s commercial real estate market, Kerret hopes to give others the same boost that his alma matter did for him.