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

zillow5There’s nothing quite like a bitter feud in the real estate business, and we’ve certainly seen our share of them over the years. But the legal fight now going on between Move Inc. and Zillow offers a fascinating look into the high-stakes world of online real estate.

Things started last month when Zillow hired Errol Samuelson, a former Move executive with deep industry experience. Move Inc. didn’t like that too much, and shot back a few days later, filing a suit against Zillow and Samuelson, alleging everything from theft of trade secrets to breach of contract. The matter was inflamed when Zillow hired yet another Move exec, Curt Beardsley, on the day of the suit.

Zillow and Samuelson have kept relatively quiet on the litigation in recent weeks, but some of the juicy details are now coming out thanks to declarations from key executives.

There’s some pretty inflammatory stuff in the docs, including allegations that Samuelson slacked off in his final months as he prepared to join Zillow, and wiped out materials on his computer and phone. Samuelson denies those claims.

Meanwhile, Samuelson notes that he no longer could work at Move, a place he essentially described as unethical. “I could no longer , in clear conscience, represent Move given that the company was asking me to publicly make commitments that the company was unable or unwilling to keep,” writes Samuelson, later claiming that Move is “badmouthing me” and “trying to impugn my reputation in the industry.”

Samuelson, who says he never signed a non-compete agreement, writes:

move-samuelson

And more here:

samuelson44

And he concludes:

samuelson-docs

Here is the declaration by Move CEO Steven Berkowitz:

DECLARATIONSTEVENBERKOWITZ (1) by John Cook


Here’s Samuelson’s response:

Declaration of Errol Samuelson


Here’s the declaration of Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, noting that the company is not interested in any trade secrets that Samuelson may have.

Declarations Rasc Off

Related: Meet Zillow’s new $5 million man: A guy so valuable that Move Inc. is suing over him

  • Thomas R.

    Given that Zillow is already the #1 real estate website and Realtor.com is between #12-15, I would be inclined to believe the CEO of Zillow when he says they don’t have any trade secrets they could learn from Move/Realtor.com…

  • Sandy

    IMO opinion there are not many “trade secrets”. It’s not hard to see what functionality various sites are offering. They fight for consumer traffic the way any competing sites do and far as getting dollars from agents, it’s about leads. I don’t think MOVE has anything Zillow needs except someone who can connect with their customers.

  • http://www.companylitigation.net Michael Rosenstein

    This is a quite fascinating issue between the Zillow and Move inc. It is better that these get resolved at a faster rate.

    http://www.companylitigation.net/real-estate-litigation/