The FORT Podcast: Michael Levy – CEO @ Crow Holdings – 2008 GFC Stories, Restructuring, View on 2024 RE Market, Life at Crow, A Man of Commerce

Today’s episode is full of incredible career stories and deep market insights as we enter the second half of 2024.

Michael Levy is the Chief Executive Officer of Crow Holdings where he is responsible for leading and overseeing the Company’s overall business strategy and activities. The firm’s operations include real estate investment management, real estate development, renewable and traditional energy exploration, and securities management.

Before joining Crow Holdings in 2016, Michael had a longstanding career in real estate finance and investment management at Morgan Stanley. He was a member of the Firm’s Management Committee and held a number of leadership positions including COO and Head of Distribution for the Investment Management Division, Head of Traditional Asset Management, COO and CFO for Real Estate Investment Management, and co-head for Real Estate Investment Banking.

We discuss:

  • Michael’s career at Morgan Stanley during the DotCom crash and GFC
  • The experience working for Crow Holdings
  • Analyzing the state of the market, asset classes, and looking to the future of real estate

Listen on:
Apple Podcasts


(00:00:00) – Intro

(00:03:10) – Days on Wall St.

(00:05:47) – Experiences during the DotCom Crash and the GFC

(00:21:02) – Advice for someone going into a restructuring

(00:24:49) – The worst assets to be in during the GFC and Michael’s time with Morgan Stanley

(00:30:44) – Being a man of commerce

(00:31:57) – Joining Crow Holdings

(00:38:38) – Texas Vs. New York

(00:42:25) – Crow Holdings business units & development structures

(00:53:57) – Thoughts on the market

(00:57:16) – 2008 vs. 2024

(00:59:20) – Interest rates

(01:03:58) – Oil and Gas

(01:06:05) – Office

(01:14:10) – Data centers

(01:17:51) – MF & Industrial

(01:23:23) – Acquisitions

(01:25:00) – Development challenges

(01:27:10) – Capital markets

(01:31:26) – What are you most proud of from your time with Crow?

(01:33:50) – Solar

(01:36:48) – Looking at the future of RE

Episode Summary

In a compelling episode of the podcast hosted by Chris Powers, Michael Levy, a seasoned investment banker with a rich history in real estate finance, shares invaluable insights from his extensive career journey and current role. Michael Levy, who began his career on Wall Street, ultimately moved to a prominent position at Morgan Stanley, and now holds a pivotal role at Crow Holdings, dives deep into the nuances of real estate investment, crisis management, and strategic financial restructuring.

The conversation kicks off with Levy recounting his serendipitous entry into the world of investment banking, despite initially working in a legal capacity. He explains how his early exposure to the bustling environment of Wall Street at Prudential Securities paved the way for his future roles. His transition to Morgan Stanley marked a significant phase, where he delved deeply into real estate, contributing during a booming era for REITs.

A major part of the discussion focuses on the transformative periods of the early 2000s and the 2008 financial crisis. Levy provides a detailed account of how the real estate sector had to rapidly adapt during the dot-com bubble and subsequent burst, highlighting the temporary pivot to ‘real estate dot com’ initiatives. More crucially, he shares his firsthand experiences with the 2008 financial downturn, detailing the challenges and strategic decisions involved in managing multi-billion dollar restructurings and bankruptcies. This period, as Levy notes, was particularly formative, providing him with profound lessons in navigating financial upheavals.

Levy also touches on the post-crisis landscape, discussing the changes in investment strategies that emerged as a response to the economic turmoil. He emphasizes the shift towards more sustainable and value-driven investment practices, reflecting a maturation in the sector influenced by past crises. His narrative underscores the importance of adaptability and foresight in managing real estate investments.

The podcast further explores Levy’s move to Crow Holdings, where he was tasked with leading the firm into new strategic directions. He describes this transition as both a cultural and professional shift, considering his deep roots in New York finance moving to a Texas-based firm. Levy outlines his strategic vision for Crow Holdings, focusing on leveraging the firm’s storied history in real estate while expanding its footprint and diversifying its portfolio.

Throughout the conversation, Levy shares several key takeaways for professionals in the real estate and finance sectors. One of the primary lessons is the critical importance of understanding the institutional landscape and the nuances of various investment frameworks, especially in times of economic stress. He also discusses the evolving dynamics of the real estate market, emphasizing the need to anticipate and adapt to changes in market demand and financial climates.

This episode offers a deep dive into the strategies that define successful real estate investment and management, particularly in navigating through and beyond crises. Michael Levy’s extensive experience and strategic acumen make this podcast a valuable resource for professionals in the finance and real estate sectors, providing a detailed exploration of both challenges and opportunities in the industry.

The FORT is produced by Johnny Podcasts

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