Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Inman interviews Maëlle Gavet, chief operating officer of Compass.

Inman News:

Gavet spoke at length with Inman about the results of Compass’ technology push, her working relationship with Reffkin, the departure of multiple executives and what exactly Compass has accomplished. Her remarks have been edited for clarity.

Seems that the latest shakeup at Compass was a much bigger thing that I thought. Even some press on The Real Deal on “…tension between CEO Robert Reffkin and COO Maelle Gavet on how to run the company — on everything from decisions marketing strategy to product development.”


Maëlle Gavet:

“To be perfectly honest with you we both very much believe in the fact that a partnership requires some type of debate, this is very important. Robert and I are different people by background, by gender, by approach. We both spent a lot of time building this partnership.”

Translation: We hate each other.


In the internal letter [Reffkin] sent out in January that announced this three-month push, he had said you’re ‘bottom line, responsible for the entire initiative,’ and [Malik] will take the point on product marketing. He also said [Seidman] and [Sirosh] will have delivered everything agents need to bring the core of their business onto the Compass platform. At the end of this push, two of those people are gone and you’ve had your duties shifted. Is it fair to say the push underdelivered in [Reffkin’s] eyes? Is that an uncharitable reading?

Maëlle Gavet:

I understand where you’re coming from, but that’s not exactly what happened. Let me start by talking about the results. I think the results have been good. We have hired close to 200 people in product and engineering since the beginning of the year, which is a big number. We acquired Contactually based out of Washington D.C., which was an important acquisition for us. We started displaying the listing agent on every listing whether or not its a Compass agent. We launched a new geo-agnostic search experience. We revamped entirely our iOS and Android app. We’ve done a lot of things.
It’s actually more because Robert felt that the product and engineering team was on a good track and delivering that he decided he wanted to be more involved in the product.

Really? I mean, really? Since when does the CEO of any company shift their focus on divisions that are “on a good track and delivering” instead of areas that need the most help?

The interview is very revealing. You get a real sense that Compass is in trouble. Maëlle comes across as some sort of corporate robot, which is such the antithesis of the perception of Compass, CEO Robert Reffkin.

The sad part is it’s the same self inflicted wound a lot of leaders make in this space, “over promise and under-deliver.” I also have a feeling that more changes are coming.

  1. I’ve seen nothing to be impressed by from Compass. And everywhere I look I am struck by how many decision makers at these levels have ZERO experience in actual real estate. In Gavet’s case, I assume she doesn’t even have experience in American real estate as a consumer until recently. That’s like being the CEO of Mars and never having eaten an M&M.

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