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eXp Realty, a publicly-traded real estate brokerage firm, is establishing itself as one of the brightest rising companies in its industry by operating entirely in the digital world, says Aaron Frank for SingularityHub. Its stock has grown more than 300% since October, and employs over 12,000 brokers working in more than 300 markets across the US and Canada.

Incredibly, this growth is largely the result of eXp Realty’s use of an online virtual world similar to Second Life. That means every employee, contractor, and the thousands of agents who work at the company show up to work—team meetings, training seminars, onboarding sessions—all inside a virtual reality campus. To be clear, this is a traditional real estate brokerage helping people buy and sell physical homes—but they use a virtual world as their corporate offices. Except for a small leased space in Bellingham, Washington, which acts as a de facto storage closet with filing cabinets and an official address (technically their headquarters), and a few empty locations where a physical address is mandated, there’s not a single office building associated with the business.

“The virtual campus is a big part of our growth engine. If we were to have the constraints of physical offices, the growth we’ve had simply wouldn’t be possible,” Scott Petronis, chief technology officer of eXp Realty, told Singularity Hub. One benefit the VR campus provides eXp Realty is that they can grow by hiring almost anyone they want; employees just need access to the internet. The executive management team, for example, operate the business from remote corners of the US: the CEO is in Washington, the COO is in Scottsdale, Arizona, the CFO is in Reno, Nevada, and Petronis, the CTO, is in upstate New York. Petronis himself manages a team of employees and contractors throughout the US, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and India.

“Our people can collaborate and feel like they are really there together. They can have this experience like they are at an office, standing at a whiteboard, and can really have what is almost like a face-to-face conversation,” he said. Today, almost no one at eXp Realty is using VR hardware due to the cost, though the campus does function with the use of the latest headsets. Even on a 2D computer screen, though, you can walk around, stand next to people, and replicate the sensation of occupying physical space with other people.

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