We Studied the Profile of Real Estate Portal CEOs - Only 2% Have Agency Experience and Only 6% are Female

August 4, 2022
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The news that after 16 years with the company, Peter Brooks-Johnson is to step down as the boss of British market leader Rightmove has got the market speculating around the profile of his replacement. Reading about the change got us thinking—what is the typical profile of a portal CEO?  We took a sample of over 100 real estate portal leaders around the world from our database, and here's what we found...


Gender equality - could be a lot better

Real estate portals are overwhelmingly controlled by men. In fact, only 6% of portals are led by a female CEO.

Of those 6% of portals led by a woman, none were founders - every female CEO we saw was an external hire. The only female founder we came across was Wendy Jordan, co-founder of Central American generalist classifieds site Encuentra24, who acts as COO of her company.


Female portal CEOs tend to be more recent hires

The women are all recent hires, too. Female real estate portal CEOs have an average tenure of 2 years and 3 months. Cecilia Beck-Friis was the longest-serving female portal CEO in our sample of leading portals, having been appointed to the role at Swedish market-leader Hemnet in October 2017, just under five years ago.

Meanwhile, the average male CEO has been in the role for 7 years and 7 months.

There are 15 portal CEOs worldwide who have served less than two full years.


Founders tend to stay put

43% of portals are founder-led. This is broadly in line with what the research out there says is the normal rate (a 2018 Harvard study found that 40% of companies still had founders as CEOs at IPO).

Long-serving CEOs include Andrew Florance, who founded CoStar in 1986 and has acted as CEO since day one—36 years. In Europe, Eamonn Fallon has been at the helm for 27 years, after he founded Daft (Ireland) in 1997.

Takashi Inoue (Lifull, Japan), Jesus Encinar (Idealista, Spain) and Nikolay Nedialkov (Imot, Bulgaria) have also served for over 20 years.

The average tenure of founder CEOs was 13 years.


Not many know customers' way of thinking...

Interestingly, only 2% of portal leaders had previous real estate agency experience before being appointed.

One man bucking the trend is former estate agent Jason Tebb who has been roundly praised by shareholders and customers alike for the job he has done since being appointed CEO of British, majority agent-owned portal OnTheMarket back in 2020.

Perhaps other portal companies, especially those owned by industry associations, will look at the job Tebb has done building bridges with the industry and search for an ex-agent as their next CEO.


Hired CEOs tend to come from a small pool

45% of non-founder CEOs had previous online classifieds experience before being hired by their current company and 60% were promoted from within. This last point tallies with the proportion of one-third of CEOs hired from outside the company cited by Professor Dovev Lavie from Bocconi University.


You'll find most portal bosses on Linkedin

92% of portal bosses had a presence on LinkedIn. This is around the same percentage (94%) of Fortune 500 CEOs that Influential Executive found on the work-based social media site back in 2020. Notable absentees came from Asia: namely China, Japan and Korea where the platform isn't as dominant.

idealista CEO Jesús Encinar is in the minority in actively choosing not be on Linkedin. The Spanish classifieds boss is pretty active on Twitter however and in 2013 took to the platform to announce he was deleting his Linkedin profile for an easier life.


This report was sponsored by call tracking specialists iovox who are as committed to bringing you people-based insights from the world of online real estate marketplaces as we are.

August 4, 2022
Edmund got to know the world of portals and marketplaces working at Mitula Group (which became Lifull Connect after the buyout in 2018). He worked directly with hundreds of portals across the world in his role in the content department for three and a half years before transferring to the SEO department to understand the inner workings of listings sites. He joined Online Marketplaces as Head of Content in March 2020.

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