Curt Beardsley, ‘Shepherd’ Of MLSs, Departs Zillow
Real estate giant’s vice president of industry development leaves months after Zillow became an IDX site to “pursue other interests.”
Curtis E. Beardsley, a man former Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff once referred to as the “shepherd” of multiple listing services, has left Zillow.
Beardsley, 56, had been the company’s vice president of industry development since March 2014, where he and Errol Samuelson, Zillow’s chief industry development officer, successfully wooed dozens of MLSs and signed them on as listing data feed partners when doing so was a contentious topic in the industry.
The deals made Zillow’s site more comprehensive and accurate, helping maintain its consumer traffic lead among national listing portals — a metric that feeds every part of Zillow’s business model, from its Premier Agent ad program to its iBuyer business.
Beardsley’s departure comes in the wake of Zillow shifting its website to one powered by Internet Data Exchange (IDX) feeds from MLSs. IDX is a pooled set of listings from an MLS, which the agent and broker subscribers of that MLS can use to display virtually all of the listings in their market. As a broker, Zillow has the same right to IDX feeds from the MLSs it belongs to as any other broker — no wooing required.
Zillow declined to comment on whether Beardsley had resigned or been fired, but a Vendor Alley post announcing his departure indicated that Beardsley, facing an empty nest now that his kids were grown, had decided to leave the company to work on other interests.
“I absolutely love Zillow,” Beardsley said in a comment to the post. “It is one of the best places I have ever worked — but after 30 years in the ‘industry,’ it’s time for me to step away and pursue other interests. I’m not heading anywhere else, at least not in the near term, but am excited to start working through my ‘things to do when I’m not trying to change the real estate world’ list. I leave behind an outstanding team — so I’m sure there will be no slacking off on the shaking up of things!
“For now, I have a few old motorcycles that need to be rebuilt, I may finally learn to weld — and l also hope to use my voice and passion to advocate for causes I believe in. (specifically as an ally for LGBTQ+ rights).”
“[I]t’s my time to leave the stage,” he added.
Beardsley’s LinkedIn profile indicates he left Zillow in May and states he currently works at “Curt’s Chaotic Shop” as an “[a]mateur welder” restoring Moto Guzzi motorcycles.
“We want to thank Curt Beardsley for his years of hard work and dedication to building Zillow into the brand it is today,” said Zillow COO Jeremy Wacksman and Samuelson in a joint, emailed statement to Inman.
“Our efforts to deliver a seamless experience with a suite of offerings would not be possible without Curt’s invaluable contributions, industry expertise and commitment to accelerating innovation. Thank you Curt and we hope you enjoy your very well-deserved retirement.”
Zillow declined to comment on Beardsley’s previous primary duties, on who would be taking over those duties, whether Beardsley’s departure had anything to do with Zillow becoming an IDX site, whether Beardsley’s employment agreement required him to stay for a minimum number of years or on how many MLSs Beardsley was able to bring on as Zillow MLS partners in his time at the company.
Beardsley notably jumped ship to Zillow in mid-March 2014 from rival Move Inc., where he had been vice president of marketing since 2005. In the last two weeks of his tenure at Move he was promoted to executive vice president of industry development after fellow Move executive Samuelson shocked the industry by joining Zillow.
Beardsley followed Samuelson and the two ended up as defendants, along with Zillow, in a lawsuit in which Move and the National Association of Realtors alleged breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and misappropriation of trade secrets.
Two years of bitter legal combat ensued, during which Beardsley did not come off well. During a lengthy hearing in April 2016, Beardsley took the stand and admitted to destroying a hard drive and deleting documents and data, which he said was to hide his hardcore pornography use. The court declined to impose sanctions on Zillow or Samuelson for alleged evidence destruction in the case, but ruled that Beardsley destroyed evidence willfully and in bad faith.
After tens of millions in litigation costs for each side, Zillow and Move ultimately settled the case, and Zillow paid Move $130 million, likely making Samuelson and Beardsley two of the most expensive executives in history.
Zillow declined to comment on whether the money spent in that legal battle was worth it, now that Beardsley is leaving after seven years. Zillow, on Beardsley’s behalf, also declined to comment on what Beardsley considers his biggest accomplishments at Zillow, if there’s anything he would have done differently or if he anticipates returning to the real estate industry at some point.