The working culture at the U.S. real estate giant CoStar and the personal integrity of its CEO Andy Florance have once again been called into question by former employees on the pages of Insider magazine (formerly Business Insider).
A former CoStar communications Director is claiming that Florance brandished a semi-automatic weapon on a business call. While the company claims that the incident simply did not happen, two former employees corroborated the former Director's account of events.
According to Insider, that same former employee also received a message from Florance showing a target riddled with bullets. While the context may be unclear, the imagery was not.
There were also fresh claims in the latest article about employees being fired on the spot for arbitrary reasons. Former Media Sales Executive, Liz Morgan told Insider that Florance remarked that she looked like she was sleeping on a Zoom training exercise. When she challenged him on this she was fired minutes later.
In response to the fresh allegations, a CoStar spokesperson said:
“CoStar Group was built on the very belief that an entire industry can do better, and one online tabloid will not distract us as we look to the future with our steadfast commitment to growth, teamwork, and success.”
On the same day that the company announced its Q4 results for FY21, allegations of a toxic work culture appeared in an Insider article that quoted unnamed former employees. The article also claimed that CoStar had seen a turnover of roughly 37% of its employees over the course of 2021 - a figure which is above the industry average for the period.
The specific claims included bullying, intimidation, micro-management and surveillance. In response, Andy Florance said that the company would "not apologize for these standards, nor will we compromise them to accommodate a vocal few who decide that this level of expectation is not for them” and called the Insider article a "sensationalized story that grossly mischaracterizes the employee experience".
A day after the claims first surfaced there was news of an arson attack at CoStar's office complex which, according to various sources, targetted the car of a high ranking executive. Although a suspect was detained by police, the latest from Insider's investigation is that that person doesn't appear to be connected to the company.
CoStar Group is a titan of American real estate and has a long history of growth and aggressive expansion. The company recently posted net income of $293 for the 2021 financial year and is executing on its plan to move into the residential sector to disrupt Zillow's dominance.
There have also been similar employee claims against fellow U.S. residential portal operator Realtor.com as well as allegations of fraud brought by former employees in a lawsuit in March.
This article was amended to reflect CoStar's assertion that the quoted employee attrition rate of 37% is not "well" above the industry average. CoStar's attrition rate during the period was 36.6% and according to a company spokesperson the real estate industry average was 34.9% for the period.