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

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?

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