Purplebricks, the missing CEO and the power of influencers
Today is the day that Purplebricks should have seen a changing of the guard. Vic Darvey’s successor Helena Marston was to be installed as the new CEO, but it has not happened.
Someone asked me the other day if being a proptech real estate influencer was a real thing. My answer is that very often when I post a few words, some of the most influential people in real estate on the globe pick up the phone and call me.
Not only do I communicate across many social media platforms and publications (one as an editor and the other has an owner) to over 100,000 people each day, I also have four decades of connections and a contact book bursting at the seams.So, when I say something, people think about it. I am not saying they agree or even like what I communicate, but it does have often far-reaching consequences.
As an example, I repeat below a small post I did in reply to a story run by a digital news publication that reported the imminent arrival of Purplebricks’ CEO. It was only a few words.
“Is having no agency experience a problem if you are the CEO of a national agency?
“After all, Alison Platt did the same thing. She was a NED at Tesco and became CEO of Countrywide PLC, the UK’s largest estate agency group, from 2014 to January 2018.
“Wait a minute…she did have to resign after overseeing a 90% fall in the company’s share price and a second profit warning in three months. Then the company stumbled along until the Connells Group bought the assets, and its C-suite made up of career property professionals made a profit within 12 months.
“Maybe Purplebricks should have a rethink, as a 90% haircut off the share price which today is 23p, would mean that it would be 2.3p a share – unthinkable. Well so is trading at 23p on the AIM.
“Purplebricks’ future hinges once again on fuzzy logic. We will let someone who has never sold a property in their life as an agent run the show.”
I leave you to wonder if, following this, anyone made that call to me.
Also, who will indeed be the new CEO of HMS Purplebricks as it glides towards some very large icebergs?
Is Boomin about to scale up even further with extra funding?
As someone who deals with property technology and fintech startups, over a hundred of them in the last two years alone, by anyone’s standards Boomin has gone from MVP to scale up in spectacular style. And they are not my client – my analysis is based on data.
It will be interesting to see where all the portals sit this time next year, as the digital native property consumer seeks out better solutions for their property needs. Digital user experience is king, hence Amazon’s 40% growth in the last two years and its $1.7 trillion valuation today.
So it comes as no surprise that SkyNews reported the following a few days ago.
“Boomin, the online property portal founded by the former boss of Purplebricks, is close to finalising a new round of funding that will value it at close to £150m.
“Sky News has learnt that Boomin is putting the finishing touches to a capital injection that will see up to £20m committed to the business.
“City sources said the company, which was launched by Michael Bruce last year, was likely to announce details of the fundraising – which has been overseen by Oakley Advisory – in the coming weeks. As part of the round, estate agents who sign up to the portal are being offered an allocation from a pot of free shares.
“Existing investors, including Channel 4’s media-for-equity venture and Foxtons, are understood to be participating in the latest raise. Boomin says it has amassed 8000 agents on its platform, including many of Britain’s 100 largest brands, including Hunters, Belvoir Group and Carter Jonas.
“It recently launched SmartVal, an online valuation tool which it says sits in between fully automated valuations and detailed physical property inspections. Boomin was set up by Mr Bruce and his brother Kenny to challenge existing property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla.”
Andrew Stanton is the founder and CEO of Proptech-PR, a consultancy for Founders of Proptechs looking to grow and exit, using his influence from decades of industry experience. Separately he is a consultant to some of the biggest names in global real estate, advising on sales and acquisitions, market positioning, and operations. He is also the founder and editor of Proptech-X Proptech & Property News, where his insights, connections and detailed analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are second to none.