Another Texas connection to Internet-based commercial real estate services will launch a transaction platform site in January, an e-business resulting from the departure of four key executives from Houston-based Hines Interests.

Zethus Inc., a web-initiative created by Goldman Sachs, is headed by Jim Hime, cofounder and CEO, who had served as Hines’ senior vice president in central finance. Tom Bacon, Hines’ former senior vice president, is Zethus’ cofounder and COO. In the past 10-12 months, former Hines executives also jumping ship are Chris Hughes, a former vice president in Washington, D.C., and Ann Kifer, former vice president of corporate communications. Hughes serves as Zethus’ senior vice president in the sales division and Kifer is senior vice president of marketing communications.

Zethus’ senior management team, announced yesterday, also includes Jeffrey Scott, cofounder and president of the sales division; Frank Sullivan, principal of the sales division; and Jeffrey Walker, senior vice president of business development and general counsel. Scott previously worked as a managing director and partner of the Real Estate Capital Markets Group at Arthur Andersen LLP. Sullivan was a managing director for Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.’s investment sales and finance group and co-head of its investment banking group and Walker, a partner with the law firm of Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn, PLLC.

The management team reflects more than a century of experience in commercial real estate, financing and law. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, says Hime, whose firm plans to beef up its management staff in the next few weeks. “We’ve assembled an exceptional group of talented individuals who understand the real estate industry,” says Hime.

Zethus joins a growing corps of real estate providers who just this year started to capitalize on the Internet’s capabilities. Accessibility, heightened comfort levels and the Internet’s increased acceptance in B2B transactions are the motivating factors for Zethus’ birth.

A Hines executive told his company is “just as curious as they (Zethus’ management) are as to what this will mean to the real estate business.” Hines too has been researching cutting edge technology to deliver online services to its clients, according to the Hines source.

The source says the impact on Hines by the four departures was lessened because they occurred over a period of time. Hines opted to spread their duties among its corps of 130 officers rather than hire replacements. “That’s not a signal that Hines is cutting back in its development efforts,” he emphasizes.

Zethus, which has a temporary web site up and running, has offices in Washington, D.C., New York City and its home base, Houston. The site will be designed to handle leasing, buying and selling and provide a property database for all sectors of the commercial real estate profession.

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