Why did Realtor dot com President Errol Samuelson jump ship to Zillow?

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Frederick Griffin, Licensed Real Estate Broker

     "Where can you innovate more quickly?" asks former Realtor.com President Errol Samuelson.  He answers his own question:  "Zillow.  Mobile is a big interest of mine.  Mobile is where Zillow is the strongest.  If you want to innovate with Mobile...  Zillow is where it's going to happen."

 

    

     Errol Samuelson, who is now chief industry development officer for Zillow, left his position as president of Realtor.com on March 5. 

     In response, Move, Inc. has filed a lawsuit against Zillow and Samuelson in the Superior Court of Washington State.   The lawsuit charges breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets.

 

Zillow press release on hiring Errol Samuelson

 

     What does this mean for Real Estate Brokers and Agents, especially for  those Real Estate Agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR)? 

     Zillow is pulling far ahead of the once dominant Realtor.com.   Internet and Mobile traffic analyses show that consumers prefer Zillow, along with the real estate website Trulia, to Realtor.com.  Key Industry Players like Errol Samuelson see this consumer preference, and are acting accordingly.  

     If Realtor dot com becomes a 2nd or 3rd tier website, if its Search Results fall to page 2 or 3 of Google and Bing Search, Realtor dot com may become irrelevant.  

 

 Realtor.com sues Zillow

 

 

     Zillow's hiring of former Realtor.com president Errol Samuelson - along with the additional "poaching" of Realtor.com Vice President Curt Beardsley - has ignited a firestorm in the Real Estate Community.    Where will it all lead?

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Disclaimer:  Nothing in this blog article is to be construed as legal advice, tax advice, or financial advice.  For legal advice see an attorney.   For tax advice or financial advice see a tax attorney, certified public accountant, or other qualified professional.

 

Frederick Griffin, Licensed Real Estate Broker       Tallahassee, Florida       850-339-4861

 

 ActiveRain Top Contributor Fred Griffin Tallahassee, Florida Real Estate Blog

 

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Ambassador
1,082,217
Bryan Robertson
Broker, Author, Speaker
Catarra Real Estate, Inc

When Realtor.com comes up with a slick UI and compelling marketing like Zillow then they'll recapture the market share they lost.  The whole "data integrity" argument is great but consumers ignored that a flocked to Zillow because it gave them things they wanted (slick UI, Zestimate, etc).  How about putting the RPR AVM on R.Com?

March 24, 2014 02:21 PM
Rainmaker
807,614
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg Homes
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg IL Real Estate - Northwest Suburbs of Chicago

Love the cartoon with Spence! This has been rehashed in a few FB groups & personally I don't think the guy had a place to go. He was really bashed over Agent Match & was facing the guillotine so jumping ship was the most practical. Did he take 'state secrets' with him - you bet!  Is it dangerous to r.com - you bet! You think we were in 3rd place before, just wait, it will get worse if they don't wise up.

 

March 24, 2014 02:52 PM
Rainmaker
738,896
Jon Kolsky
REALTOR® Long Beach, CA
Kolsky Group/Spellens Realty

~ watching that video makes me see how out of touch some folks are...Everything is skewed and nothing is what it seems to be on the aggregate websites.... Innman has it right when he says "I don't know how you measure who's #1, (ruthlessness)

 

March 24, 2014 02:54 PM
Ambassador
775,226
Fred Griffin, Tallahassee Real Estate Broker. Buyer Brokerage and Flat Fee MLS
Tallahassee Florida Real Estate: Call 850-339-4861
Frederick Griffin, Licensed Real Estate Broker

More great comments from EVERYONE!
 
  I cannot respond to all of the comments; I may miss a couple of the better ones. Please forgive me if I fail to reply to your comment.



Jon  #46   That applies to R, T and Z!       Great Images, BTW



Utah Hassle Free #48 good point.  If this gentleman was PRESIDENT of Realtor.com, why didn't he push them for Mobile?

 


Darrell comment #50    Well said!  

     To others who read your comment about the Zillow badge, please get an understanding of "No Follow" Back Links to understand my own remarks in comment #40.




Marvin  #53  I just fed my cats - 49 cents a can plus tax.   I don't think I made that much from Zillow Leads in 2013 either.




Dwight comment #55     I am looking for a way out of NAR.  It has become a self-serving racket that is completely out of touch with its members.  But that is fodder for another blog...  More on that later!



Gail comment #62   Ding Ding Ding!  We have a Winner!    "It's important for us to understand what sites consumers prefer, so that we can spend our time and money on the sites with the best ROI for our businesses."



Travis comment #63  When I first heard the word, "Zestimate", I thought it was a Sports Drink like Gatorade!   Then I learned that it means the same thing as the Military acronym, "WAG".



  Hi, Bryan comment #65   That is profound.  We have this great tool called RPR (and it is a great tool, seriously), but it is for "Agents Only".  It is a super-secure website that requires multiple passwords to get in.   Why hide that data?  That kind of information would bring eyeballs to Realtor.com. 


General Thought:

     To EVERYONE who says that they despise these websites:   

     Have you asked YOUR Board of Realtors or MLS why they are providing your MLS data to these websites?  Is it for the money?  Is it because of the DOJ ruling from several years ago?  Is it because they want YOU and your Listings to get more Web Exposure? 

     Do YOU have the option to exclude your Listings from the Web (we do, at Tallahassee Board of Realtors - it is on the Listing Contract, and on the MLS Data Entry Form).

     Are YOU posting Back Links to these sites that you say you hate?  If you are, you are giving them SEO/Google Juice with those links.   Check your Source Code, or ask your Web Person.

  Thanks EVERYBODY!

March 24, 2014 02:55 PM
Rainmaker
794,412
Marte Cliff
your real estate writer
Marte Cliff Copywriting

He says he left for the opportunity to be more innovative. What do you bet he left because they offered him more money?

March 24, 2014 03:36 PM
Anonymous #70
Anonymous
Dennis Erickson
"Friend or Foe?" Remember that Zillow was born out of the idea of putting the Realtor out of business, literally. They wanted to remove the third party (Realtors) from the transaction, check the history. Microsoft and Bill Gates were and are the same. They failed because we, through NAR and Realtor.com, still created and controlled our information. We will prevail again, but not without responding to this challenge. Yes, mobile is the future, for now. Why didn't this guy stick with Realtor.com and make it the forerunner in mobile? No loyalty. Money. Pick a reason. When Zillow rules the internet, Realtors lose big. Don't fall into the myth they are out to help us. Not true.
March 24, 2014 04:53 PM
Rainer
274,352
Kimo Jarrett
Kimo's Lifestyle Solutions
WikiWiki Realty

What's the fuss? An opportunity to earn more comes along and he's criticized for moving upward, wouldn't we all? I don't see Zillow improving with an ex leader of NAR and its afiliates joining their team.

NAR should require all listings posted from their MLS database by anyone other than the listing agent or MLS member pay the listing agent an advertising fee for each posting on a daily basis. How far would Zillow and the other website companies who exploit the agents listings without any fees fare? We need a change in leadership and perhaps this might be just the opportunity to initiate a change and reward the real estate agents. 

March 24, 2014 05:22 PM
Rainer
82,291
Anna Hatridge
Missouri Realtor with Goodson Realty
Goodson Realty

thank you for the information

March 24, 2014 06:26 PM
Rainmaker
1,102,731
Myrl Jeffcoat
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent
GreatWest Realty

The developments surrounding Samuelson, Move, and NAR, certainly have made rounds among real estate professionals the last several days.  It all makes for intriguing reading.  It will be interesting to see if NAR prevails on the trade secrets issue.  

March 24, 2014 08:05 PM
Rainmaker
328,295
Steven Nickens
R(S)GRI ABR, Maui Real Estate Hawaii
Island Sotheby's International Realty

Zillow is no friend to the Realtor on the street. We just have to deal with companies like this on-line.

March 24, 2014 09:13 PM
Rainmaker
672,148
Rob Arnold
Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F
Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc.

Realtor.com has been a dinosaur for years.  The only reason they even give you more than 1 photo is because Zillow and Trulia forced their hand.  You used to have to pay thousands of dollars per year to get more than 1 photo.  Realtor.com is an embarassment to Realtors everywhere.  That is a big reason why he jumped ship. 

March 25, 2014 12:11 AM
Rainmaker
12,181
Don Price
Advanced Real Estate Services & Staging

As REALTORS® - we cannot blame anyone other than ourselves for this situation. Currently we look at Errol Samuelson jumping a sinking ship as something unthinkable that further aggravates our wounds. Frankly, we must look at ourselves for handing off our name and control of our listings to a third party that cut a sweetheart deal with the heads of NAR at the time.  This third party has never played with us with any transparency – who here can post all their services they offer us or better yet a complete fee schedule that assures each of us that buys an ‘extra’ service is paying the same as others doing the same? That has been tolerated for some reason, but in my eyes, our biggest folly was when we gave control of our name to a for profit third party in the first place. Since the initial failed attempt of a national public website owned by us, when everyone was just learning the ropes of the internet,  we quickly sold our soul to a for profit company that has done very well for themselves, and for their stock holders. (Does anyone remember who all was offered stock from our leaders at the time?) Now we see and realize this third party for profit company was not minding the ‘store’ and did not take seriously the upstart companies with bad information and form, becoming many times more relevant than they are, or that we are as a matter of fact  – because we give away our hard earned information to them, so they can sell it back to us in the form of ‘leads’ 1 or 2 chunks at a time.


Errol Samuelson isn’t really the problem; he just wants to survive. Remember, Mr. Samuelson was an employee of a third party for profit company, so in essence he never did not have our best interests at heart, he had his and the company he worked for best interests in mind, and his source of revenue then, was ‘us’. Now the only thing that changes in his life is the company issuing his paycheck, his and the company he works for revenue stream is still based on us – and it is still given to him and the company he works - for free.


The irony of course that ties this up nicely is the forum this is written on, does anyone else remember when we could have signed in to Realtor.org and placed our questions and concerns away from prying eyes and ears, whereas now our major source of communication is one of those darn ‘upstarts’. J


The entire world is striving hard to eliminate inefficiencies – is there anything less efficient then the way we give our work away for free and then we pay the same companies we give it to for the leads our work generates – and we compete/pay for the buyers  that may show an interest. It just seems to me like we invite, and then roll out the red carpet, to middlemen and inefficiencies in our business.


Zillow - Errol Samuelson – congratulations for seeing opportunities and grasping them – better and more accurate data would have been more germane.


Trulia / Market Leader – thanks for keeping pace with Activerain – did you miss an opportunity with this one?


March 25, 2014 04:53 AM
Anonymous #77
Anonymous
Fred Van Allen
It may be a bandaid. But we can stop buying zillow and trulia. I once was a buyer and people I talk to say zillow and trulia to not give a good ROI. They didn't for me.
March 25, 2014 06:47 AM
Ambassador
775,226
Fred Griffin, Tallahassee Real Estate Broker. Buyer Brokerage and Flat Fee MLS
Tallahassee Florida Real Estate: Call 850-339-4861
Frederick Griffin, Licensed Real Estate Broker

Good morning, EVERYONE

    Thanks for your comments.

--------------------

  Don comment #76.  Very well said.

     When NAR sold lifetime rights to "Realtor.com" to the private company Move, Inc. NAR forfeited all control.   Defenders of that sale will say, "The Internet was young; NAR didn't realize what they were doing.  I say, "I wonder which NAR Leaders at the time profited financially from that sale?"  

     Also, you mention in comment #76 something about Trulia/AR missing this opportunity (to snag Samuelson).  I am thinking that Trulia got out-bid!  

------------------

 

  Thanks again to ALL of you for the Discussion!

 

March 25, 2014 07:23 AM
Rainer
49,488
Jim Harper
Atlanta Communities Real Estate

Rob Arnold says it best. Realtor.com has been a dinosaur for years.

March 25, 2014 09:01 AM
Rainer
11,306
David Stefan
Residential, Land, Commercial, Camps, Lakefront
Look Realty

Fellow Realtors, does it bother you that when you web search your name that Realtor.com comes up first?

March 25, 2014 02:03 PM
Rainmaker
22,298
Ernest Villafranca
Realtor, Real Estate Oakland CA
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate | Mason McDuffie

Why did he jump ship? For money. If Zillow offered me a shit load of money, I'd leave too and go say that Zillow is the greatest company ever. Wouldn't you?

Is Zillow friend or foe? Is a parasite a friend or a foe? It depends.

March 26, 2014 10:32 AM
Rainmaker
198,404
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Specializing in Brookside, Waldo, Prairie Village
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes

I didn't hear of this change, thanks for the information!

March 27, 2014 05:59 PM
Anonymous #83
Anonymous
pete torelli -
Why is Move taking so long to select a new leader/President for realtor.com? Realtors and Brokers are anxious about the departures of Errol Samuelson and Curt Beardsley to Zillow. We need a President that is/was a broker and a realtor. We need someone who has relationships with real estate brands across the country. We need someone who has good relationships with the national Association realtors. We need a president that knows and understands the MLSs and Associations across the country. I know this is a tall order and very few people meet these requirements, but there is one person that seems like the obvious choice, the current Vice president of realtor.com, Max Pigman. I have followed his career for over a decade and have seen him present over 15 times to brokers, realtors, MLS's, and associations alike. He is articulate, passionate and empathetic to the needs of this industry. He has deep roots in the real estate industry and I believe his blood runs true Realtor blue. Who knows… Maybe he's already been offered and turned it down. I wouldn't blame him. To take on this role in this kind of turmoil is going to be a very tough challenge! If not Max Pigman, someone who meets these qualifications, and soon! I think that Max is The Man! Pete Torelli - Broker-Realtor-Owner - Monterrey Realty of Port St. Lucie Inc. 35 years a Realtor www.petetorelli.com
April 04, 2014 02:27 PM
Ambassador
775,226
Fred Griffin, Tallahassee Real Estate Broker. Buyer Brokerage and Flat Fee MLS
Tallahassee Florida Real Estate: Call 850-339-4861
Frederick Griffin, Licensed Real Estate Broker

Hi, Pete comment #83

     I saw Max Pigman give presentations for Realtor.com several times.  In fact, I saw him in Pensacola, and in Ft. Lauderdale, and here in Tallahassee.

    The man is a great presenter.  Max gave an entertaining and very informative pitch for Realtor.com upgrades.  And, he got the business... the sign-up tables had lines of Realtors waiting to buy upgrades.

     Would he make a good president for Realtor.com?  I don't know... but he is definitely an interesting choice!

     Thanks for commenting.

April 04, 2014 04:59 PM
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