In a few short years, Reffkin and Allon have become two of the nation’s most powerful real estate leaders. The company they founded, Compass, is now one of the most talked about real estate brokerages, largely because of its bold growth strategies and its massive war chest. In 2019, Compass was the third largest brokerage in the Mega 1000 with a 2019 sales volume of over $91 billion and fifth in transactions with almost 85,000 sides.
Because of its roots in New York City and a general focus on sleek design with younger founders and staff, Compass agents trend toward urban, younger, and more focused on the luxury niche than the average agent. The company built its ranks of high-performing agents through acquisitions, bonus payments, heavy financial incentives, and a sophisticated, modern, contemporary brand. While it does have significant operations in the nation’s suburbs, its culture is more urban, upper class, and multicultural than most brokerages.
Compass suffered collateral damage from the fallout WeWork’s valuation collapse, which led investor SoftBank, also a major investor in Compass, to seemingly pull back everywhere, even from companies who had done nothing wrong. As a result, from fall 2019 to sometime in the summer of 2020, Compass has been quiet. The Clear Cooperation Policy approved by NAR also led to some controversy, as Compass had begun building a growth strategy with exclusive coming soon listings as a key element.
But something has changed in 2020. Compass has been far more active in the second and third quarter of 2020 than in the previous nine months, and its signature aggressiveness in recruiting the best agents in the best markets appears to be back.
One strong driver is certainly the imminent IPO. In a message to Compass’s agents, Reffkin wrote, “Being public will allow Compass to raise capital that we can invest in more tools and more support to help you … We will be able to invest more in building towards the Compass Northstar: Anything an agent needs, Compass provides.” It also gives the company a compensation option not unlike the one eXp Realty has used to recruit some of the best agents in the country.
While the prospect of a rejuvenated Compass with an even larger war chest, and publicly traded shares, might strike renewed fear into the hearts of other brokerage leaders, it may be good news indeed for Compass’s thousands of agents. And at the head of that thrust are Robert Reffkin and Ori Allon, the two founders, senior company executives and two of the most powerful people in real estate today.
Robert Reffkin, CEO Compass
Prior to Compass, Reffkin worked as chief of staff to the president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs, following a five-year stint working in the firm’s private equity arm. Before that, he worked at the investment bank Lazard and at McKinsey & Company. In 2005, he served as a White House Fellow as special assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury. Robert is also the founder of the nonprofit New York Needs You. He received a BA and MBA from Columbia University.
Ori Allon, Executive Chairman
Ori Allon’s technology expertise, honed at Google and Twitter, gives Compass technology street cred and a competitive edge that many brokers cannot match. Before Compass, he served as the director of engineering at Twitter’s New York City office, after selling his prior company, Julpan, to Twitter in 2011. Before joining Twitter, Allon served a stint at Google after the tech giant acquired his patented thesis called Orion. During his time at Google he led a search quality team that integrated the Orion technology and algorithms into the Google search engine. Allon earned his doctorate in computer science at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.