The Betrayal. The 30 piece of silver. The Accusations of Insider Knowledge going to a direct competitor. The Zillow vs Move, NOW it’s personal spin. The computer that was not (allegedly) returned. The lawsuit filing that was distributed to the blogosphere and press. Ahh…the drama…the drama indeed.
What does Errol-gate REALLY say about who the players are and more importantly their character? Here are 10 observations of mine that I offer for your consideration. Before we begin, let’s start with Exhibit A. The Court Filing. Bailiff, if you will provide that? Thanks. Here it is. If you are in our industry, PLEASE read this.
Observation 1: Errol Samuelson (if Move Inc is correct in their view of how this went down) is a poor excuse for an ethical business person. That is putting it as mildly as possible. If this is NOT the way things transpired, then Errol needs to defend himself and quick. Accusing Errol of meeting with ALL of Zillow’s top brass is strong stuff. Accusing him of wiping the data off of the company laptop is strong stuff. Remember that we are talking about a person in the C-Suite of Move for over a decade, with knowledge to the inner workings.
Observation 2: Move Inc, under anybody’s definition is not being run correctly. We are seeing executives leave en masse. Not a good thing at all. There is a reason that they are more profitable and yet Wall Street values Zillow at 10x their value. I think BOTH are overvalued, but I am just sayin. What kind of an outfit are they running there when their core folks are heading to the exits?
Observation 3: For Zillow, buying executives appears to be cheaper of a gambit than trying to buy competitors out entirely. Trulia = Overvalued. Move? Too tied to REALTORS. Errol Samuelson’s soul? Dirt cheap.
Observation 4: For Zillow, buying Samuelson comes at more of a price than first blush would show. They hired Samuelson to screw over R.com. They CANNOT have been doing it to honestly use him as an industry liason…otherwise they would have made this a lot cleaner and kept the relationships intact. And they had EVERY opportunity.
Observation 5: For Zillow, this DOES prove that they have a well thought out scheme in mind to eradicate R.com by buying executives. Good thing Judas Goats are on sale cheap these days.
Observation 6: For REALTORS, if you think that Zillow is NOT here to take over the industry and supplant as much of the brokerage / realtor / MLS space as technology will allow and then jack up the price to support their valuation, you are smoking something from Colorado. If you are a team or brokerage paying for leads and you think that Zillow is a PARTNER… you are about to find out that this partner relationship is temporary, parasitic, and expensive.
Observation 7: These lawsuits, and there will be more, are going to be the soap opera of the year for 2014. And it does not matter who wins. We know who the loser is already. Who do you think will end up paying the legal bills? REALTORS or SHAREHOLDERS. Those are the only two options. Both are correct potentially.
Final Observations: This pretty much illustrates that Zillow and Move are arguing over the right to ravage the REALTOR. While I cannot blame Zillow for trying to hire competitors, I feel totally justified in saying that it was slimy the way that they did it. Further, if you are hiring Errol as an industry outreach person, you do not go about it this way. If you are hiring them to dig a ditch for a competitor, then this is TEXTbook.
This smacks of a lack of leadership at Move on a scale that I cannot imagine. It means that the emperors leading the people who own the rights to use the term REALTOR basically have no clothes, and they are not managing their people well at all.
And it illustrates that the rats who are jumping ship are just that. Rats. They are looking for a liferaft to support their lifestyles. I cannot fault them for that. But as I said with Zillow. I can fault them for HOW they do that. It seems that this high drama in our industry really speaks the most about THEIR character.
Just my two cents.