Maelle Gavet

Maelle Gavet is the new COO at real estate startup Compass

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There has been another development at Compass, the real estate startup that recently hit a $1 billion valuation. The company has appointed a new COO, Maëlle Gavet. She will report to Robert Reffkin, the CEO and co-founder of Compass.

Gavet was most recently at Priceline, the travel services giant, which she joined as EVP in 2015 tasked with integrating a number of its brands, and with a longer-term plan to move into the CEO role. That path that was disrupted when the CEO who hired her stepped down abruptly after having an affair, and was replaced by the previous CEO who went back to Priceline’s older, federated strategy. She left less than six months later.

Before Priceline, Gavet was the CEO of Ozon, an Amazon-like e-commerce portal in Moscow.

At Compass, Gavet is replacing David Snider, who had a dual role as COO and CFO. He’ll now be shifting to a full-time CFO role.

Gavet’s arrival comes at a time of a lot of expansion for Compass, which has built a business as a real estate portal that handles rentals and sales from brokers, and differentiates itself from other online portals by providing more localised and hands-on service from its own staff of neighborhood experts.

That localised expertise and the actual real estate listings platforms are part of Compass’s tech plays: the company provides a portal to extend the relationship between tenant and property to a wider information network.

“The incredible caliber of our talent across technology, real estate, and business is a differentiator for Compass, and Maëlle adds valuable technology and entrepreneurial experience to our senior team. She will be instrumental in shaping the next phase of Compass’s growth as we continue to build new technology and transform the real estate experience for agents and consumers,” said Ori Allon, the other co-founder who is Compass’s executive chairman, in a statement.

The firm — co-founded by banker and civic advocate Reffkin and serial entrepreneur Allon (who sold previous startups to Google and Twitter and then ran Twitter’s engineering efforts out of New York) — has been somewhat deliberate (read: slow) in its geographical expansion, favoring quality over quantity since its founding in 2012 originally as Urban Compass. Today, it’s only in 9 regions: New York, Boston, San Francisco, Miami, Washington, the Hamptons, LA, Santa Barbara, and Aspen, with some 26 offices.

But that is changing with the $75 million growth round of funding that catapulted it to unicorn status, and so Compass had been looking for a more dedicated person to take on a more operational role with the growing network, which last year brought in $180 million in revenues.

“Compass has 300 people on staff and works with 1,200 agents,” Gavet told TechCrunch — these numbers will be growing as Compass expands more. “Compass was interested in my international experience and also my experience with scaling.”

“As we continue to build the twenty-first century real estate industry leader, we sought to strengthen our management team by hiring an experienced operator with an impressive track record leading technology-driven businesses through rapid growth,” said Reffkin in a statement. “We found this and much more in Maëlle Gavet. With her experience leading global operations for the third largest e-commerce company in the world and managing and building high-performing teams, I am confident that Maëlle will successfully drive and execute the company’s strategic priorities and accelerate our growth.”