A photo of Errol Samuelson.
Errol Samuelson

Errol Samuelson is a valuable man.

Not only does he possess deep real estate industry experience — often quoted in Forbes, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal— but he also previously served as chairman of Move Inc.’s Realtor.com, a rival to Zillow.

No wonder that Zillow wanted to get its hands on Samuelson, named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Leaders in the U.S. by Inman News. Last month, Zillow announced that it was hiring Samuelson as its chief industry development officer, responsible for relations with real estate brokerages and multiple listing services.

Now, we’re finding out just how much Samuelson is worth. According to a SEC filing uncovered by Inman News, Samuelson was granted 59,320 class A shares of Zillow, stock holdings worth more than $5.5 million. (Zillow’s stock was up more than seven percent today, trading at $94.80).

Inman News notes that Samuelson was making good money at Move Inc. — pulling down a salary and bonuses of more than $600,000 in 2012. But, of course, that doesn’t compare to the stock awards from Zillow, a company’s whose shares have more than quadrupled since the July 2011 IPO.

Perhaps most interesting, shortly after Samuelson’s hiring at Zillow, the lawyers from Move Inc. came knocking. They filed a suit against Samuelson and Zillow, alleging theft of trade secrets, breach of contract, among other things.

“At Move, we take our trade secrets and intellectual property extremely seriously as a valuable asset in our competitive position in the marketplace,” said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move, in a statement.  “We take action in cases in which we believe our trade secrets have been compromised. We have raised this matter for the courts and believe that the matter will be resolved judiciously.”

Recent documents filed in King County Superior Court allege that Samuelson knew critical details about Move’s business, holding so much knowledge that he will be able to “predict what Move will do for several months into the future,” according to a declaration by Move CEO Berkowitz.  Berkowitz alleges that Samuelson slacked off during his final months at Move, neglecting advertising issues, canceling an interview with a key job candidate and missed a quarterly review meeting. He also alleges that Samuelson wiped the memory from a company-owned computer, cell phone and iPad, even though

Berkowitz notes in his declaration:

move-inc-berkowitz

Samuelson has tried to stay above the fray, avoiding questions about the topic in an interview with Inman News last month in which he said he was simply excited about the opportunity at Zillow.

However, in a declaration filed last week, Samuelson said he left Move because of their inability to make changes that he thought were “necessary and ethical,” noting that he wanted to be in an environment “where I could work with integrity.”

He notes in the declaration:

move-inc-suit

Related: Zillow vs. Move: Dueling declarations show bitter feud over key real estate exec

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline

Comments

  • Mike

    Most of the time it’s not the person’s IQ or ability to ‘get the job done’ that they sue over, it’s the fact the employee can (and likely will) utilize confidential information that could give the hiring company a leg up in the market.

    Maybe this guy can predict the future, but I’d bet he has some market info Zillow wants to use.

  • Justin

    Why was there a non-compete agreement? Who hired him into a top position without a non-compete?

  • CP

    I worked as Errol’s assistant and this guy has absolutely no integrity and major anger issues. He hated the CEO Steve and had major issues with him (saw an email between Errol and a mediator about how terrible Steve is blah blah). Yet, the same things he was complaining about were the same characteristics he displayed. Major princess. In terms of integrity, I followed up with him about a CDA a business opp continued to call about. He said it was not needed, as he was going to hear her out and steal the idea. Best part is he has major anger issues, saw an email between him and his wife on how proud his wife was of him for not unleashing on a valet guy for forgetting to put his bag into the taxi. Complete liar, has no problems lying to your face and reamed me out on several occasions. One occasion being that I didn’t tell him it was time to head to a meeting that Steve was presenting, yet he closes his office door 5 min. prior to the beginning of the company meeting and I’m supposed to know what to do on my first week of the job. My bad for not knocking as I didn’t want to interrupt him but no need to raise your voice and humiliate me in front of the organization. He absolutely took those trade secrets. He hated Steve and thought he was better than everyone. Ignored staff he considered minions. Where’s Waldo looking guy should learn to be kinder to people.

    • coworker

      I also worked with Errol, and would characterize him a little differently. He was demanding but fair. Maybe more importantly, he was a motivational influence around the office. People understood his vision, wanted to be a part of it, and rallied around him to get it done.

Job Listings on GeekWork

Find more jobs on GeekWork. Employers, post a job here.