Following the announcement of News Corp’s acquisition of Move, Inc, operator of realtor.com®, this past October, more news was announced last week by News Corp with Ryan O’Hara, a News Corp veteran, taking over as CEO in January.
Outgoing Move CEO Steve Berkowitz, who has led the company since 2009, spoke with RISMedia Friday about the transition, his tenure and how the new leadership will position the company for the future.
Paige Tepping: Getting started, can you talk a little bit about your overall perspective on the leadership change as Ryan O’Hara comes in as the CEO of Move, Inc.?
Steve Berkowitz: I believe the leadership team we have built at Move is the best in the industry. One of the things I do is always try to figure out that an organization has a strong set of leaders: tech leadership, our sales leadership, industry leadership, staff leadership – and just our overall business leadership is a great team. Ryan is coming into a team that is not only extremely seasoned, they also understand the company’s history, and it will be a great benefit to us.
PT: In terms of this announcement, was it expected?
SB: The example I always give is when a new owner comes into a sports franchise. I had always set out as a goal to make realtor.com® and Move a strong business. When I came in, we were at the depths of the housing crisis and the company was in a bit of a position of not executing as well as they needed to. With any change like this, it’s sometimes natural to see leadership changes. I love to run companies and build culture. This is the third public company I’ve run. It’s a natural progression for me. I want to make sure I’m leaving the company in the hands of a strong executive team, with a great opportunity with the new parent to fight their way back to No. 1 and, with the ability to do all things – it’s a great situation for everybody. I think the direction they will take will be their own – and that’s normal.
But what’s important is the skill set within the organization – we have the best relationship with the industry, understand the drivers of the industry, understand what it means to be industry friendly. We’ve got the skill set, now comes the doubling down on the brand and investment in the business that will take it to the next level. I’m very excited for all the people at Move and the opportunity for NAR (National Association of REALTORS®) too – this is a great opportunity for NAR to support and get behind and realize that if realtor.com® does its job and enables consumers to trust REALTORS® before meeting them, it benefits everyone.
PT: How will this leadership change ultimately position Move for future success?
SB: I think the tech prowess of the company today is really strong. We as an organization focus on customer service – we have the best customer service organization in the industry. We have a leadership team with great technology talent, great understanding of the customer, strong understanding of what the consumer needs. Everything is hopefully set – now it comes down to doubling down and executing. Execution is always going to be a challenge. But at the end of day, the company has the right horsepower to take that next step.
PT: Looking back on your tenure with Move, what are you most proud of in terms of your time spent with the company?
SB: Three things: One, the culture we built. When I came into the company, the company was at the bottom of a tough market, but we’ve built a really strong culture. We invested a lot of time, money and effort into bringing leadership together and involving employees in the direction of the company. I believe that the people in the company would answer this the same way – they believe in what we’ve built.
Two, the evolution of the operating agreement with NAR, which was a huge win for everyone. It didn’t come about without challenges, and without tense moments. The company got the support to focus on what the most important thing is – the consumer experience.
Three, we’ve had 10 consecutive quarters of year-over-year growth. This says a lot about the first three years, which involved getting things ready. Next, was about growing and last was putting Move and realtor.com® in a home with a company that gives it the opportunity to be a part of something bigger versus having to fight that battle as a standalone company. Putting it in the right home is the icing on the cake.
PT: And looking forward, what’s on the horizon for you?
SB: I hope to sit on some board seats and maybe even teach. I have a lot of experience that I would love to share with people. This is where I get the most satisfaction – helping people grow and develop. I think I might have another business in me – another opportunity in me whether it’s doing something that needs turning around or poised to break out – we’ll see. For right now, I’m going to enjoy the holidays and enjoy time with my kids. Everybody should look at 2014 and just be proud of what the company accomplished and stop for a minute and spend the holidays enjoying family and reenergizing themselves to come back to what is going to be an exciting chapter.
Sometimes we have a tendency to not live in the moment. I’ve spent a lot of time working with people to get them to realize that in everything you do in life, you have to spend time and live in that moment and enjoy it. As you move on, realize that there needs to be time to settle down, but for everyone, they should be so proud of what we’ve accomplished – the company we’ve built and where it’s ended up. Take the time to just live in the moment and enjoy it.
For more information, visit www.realtor.com.