Greg Schwartz, president of Zillow Group’s media and marketplace businesses, is leaving after more than 12 years with the company.
His departure comes as returning Zillow Group CEO Rich Barton looks to reinvent the Seattle-based real estate media giant as a one-stop shop for buying, selling and financing homes. Barton plans to further integrate Zillow’s Premier Agent and Mortgages businesses, which Schwartz oversaw, with its Zillow Offers business, through which the company directly buys and sells homes.
In an interview with GeekWire, Schwartz said his decision wasn’t a direct result of the changes inside the company, but was driven instead by his own desire to take a break. He said he plans to take about a year off work, reconnecting with his family and rediscovering the ski slopes, before deciding “what fun thing I want to do next.”
“Every decade or two, startups need a new squad to incubate them and drive them, because it is such an intense experience,” Schwartz said, expressing confidence in the ability of the company’s executive team to take over his responsibilities.
In a post on LinkedIn, Schwartz said he has joined the board of an unidentified “new civic organization with heavyweights from Washington State politics, community advocacy groups and business.” We’ve asked for more information about the organization he’s referencing.
Schwartz wrote in the post, “I’ve been almost entirely focused on work, ignoring Seattle’s chaotic streets and government. Our city is soaring with the greatest financial, intellectual and innovation boom in history, yet in many areas we have fallen flat. We can do better.”
Barton, the Zillow co-founder, returned as CEO earlier this year as former CEO Spencer Rascoff stepped down. Barton on Monday credited Schwartz with building Zillow’s original sales and revenue organizations before taking on a larger executive role in recent years.
“We had all this traffic, but we hadn’t figured out how to monetize it,” Barton recalled. “Greg led the creation of every iteration of our business model.”
Barton added, “So we’re super grateful, but we also understand that we’re looking out against a giant new mission right now as we look to expand from Zillow 1.0 to Zillow 2.0 and get down and actually revolutionize the transaction. And in so doing, the company’s changing and growing, and we’re bringing in new leaders and new expertise.”
Zillow Group announced a series of internal changes along with Schwartz’s departure:
- The company’s Premier Agent and Rentals businesses will be overseen by Zillow President Jeremy Wacksman. Susan Daimler, senior vice president of Premier Agent, who is credited with leading a revival of that portion of Zillow’s business, will report to Wacksman. So will Christopher Roberts, senior vice president of the Zillow Rentals business.
- Arik Prawer, president of Zillow’s Homes Division and the leader of the Zillow Offers home buying and selling business, will expand his oversight to include Zillow Home Loans and other mortgage-related operations. The company says the goal is to “more tightly integrate home financing into Zillow Offers operations.” Rian Furey, president of Zillow Home Loans and senior vice president of Zillow Mortgages, will report to Prawer.
- Errol Samuelson, Zillow Group chief industry development officer, will oversee Zillow’s New Construction and Display Advertising businesses, with Lucy Wohltman, vice president for those businesses, reporting to Samuelson.
Zillow Group’s home sales division has grown quickly to make up the majority of the company’s revenue, responsible for $384.6 million in revenue last quarter.
As Zillow Group has expanded into directly buying and selling homes, Barton said, the company has learned “a tremendous amount about how the real estate industry actually operates and works.”
“It’s opened our eyes to the possibility of bringing our traditional core media advertising business way down-funnel into the transaction, as well,” he said. “We’re finding a tremendous amount of commonality between the software and processes that we’re building for Zillow Offers and what needs to happen for the future of the core media advertising business, which we call Premier Agent. That’s going to unlock huge upside potential for us in our core business. And so bringing those things organizationally closer together is a nod to that opportunity.”