Move, the company behind real estate sites like Realtor.com and moving.com, and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) today filed a lawsuit against Zillow and its recently hired chief industry development officer Errol Samuelson. Move is suing over “breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and misappropriation of trade secrets among other action.”
“At Move, we take our trade secrets and intellectual property extremely seriously as a valuable asset in our competitive position in the marketplace,” said Move’s CEO Steve Berkowitz in a statement today. “We take action in cases in which we believe our trade secrets have been compromised. We have raised this matter for the courts and believe that the matter will be resolved judiciously.”
In addition to NAR and Move, the plaintiffs also include RealSelect, Inc., Top Producer Systems Company, and Realtors Information Network, Inc.
Samuelson joined Zillow less than two weeks ago. His hire was a major coup for the company, given his 20-year record in the real estate industry and previous position at Move, where he was promoted to chief strategy officer in April 2013 and ran a large part of the company’s business. He joined Move in 2003 and became president of Realtor.com in 2007. Samuelson was especially good at getting the real estate industry to respect and work with realtor.com, an industry source told me. To industry insiders, the way Samuelson left Move felt unprofessional and the lawsuit will remind them of this and may make his work at Zillow harder, even if the lawsuit fails.
Zillow had no comment about the lawsuit, but in the relatively stodgy world of real estate, this constitutes high drama, especially given that the lawsuit is not stopping Zillow from continuing to poach from Move.
Today, Zillow announced that Curt Beardsley, who was recently the executive vice president of industry development of Move, is joining Zillow as its vice president for industry development. In this role, the company says, he will be responsible for building and strengthening Zillow’s relationships with multiple listing services (MLSs) and other industry partners.
This is a pretty bold move by Zillow, to say the least. Beardsley, after all, was promoted inside of Move to essentially take Samuelson’s role on the day of his departure. No word yet on when Move plans to sue him.