Now that Move Inc., which operates Realtor.com for the National Association of Realtors, is officially owned by News Corp (NWS), the worldwide media conglomerate has begun to exert its influence and big changes are afoot at Move.
First, News Corp quietly announced in December that it was installing company veteran Ryan O’Hara as CEO, replacing Move CEO Steve Berkowitz, who had led Move since 2009.
According to a release from News Corp, O’Hara was due to take over at Move on Jan. 5.
“We are excited to have secured Ryan O'Hara to take the helm at Move, given his record of transforming businesses in the digital age and his clear determination to accelerate the growth of the company,” Robert Thomson, News Corp’s CEO, said when the change was announced.
“Ryan's experience in the digital media and entertainment industry and his deft management skills will be invaluable assets as we pursue the rapid expansion of Move in this era of exponential change. He also looks forward to working closely with the National Association of Realtors, a key and crucial partner of Move, knowing that Realtors are at the heart of American real estate transactions."
Thomson also said that beginning this week, News Corp is launching a “broad-based marketing campaign across The Wall Street Journal Digital Network to drive quality traffic to realtor.com.”
O’Hara comes to Move from Madison Square Garden Company, where he served as a president and led the MSG Media, technology and marketing partnership divisions. O’Hara previously was president and CEO of The Topps Company, a leading entertainment trading card and consumer products business.
Before working at Topps, O’Hara spent time with several News Corp businesses, including Gemstar TV Guide International/TV Guide Company from 2002 to 2010. He spent his last five years there as president of the TV Guide network and several digital businesses.
Between 1999 and 2002, he worked at Fox Cable Networks in Los Angeles and BSkyB in London.
“I’m grateful for this exciting opportunity to join the team at Move and help make realtor.com the best in the business,” O’Hara said. “The digital real estate marketplace is poised for rapid expansion as more people go online to buy, sell and rent property in America, and as more businesses advertise on digital real estate platforms to reach those homeowners. I believe Realtor.com is ready to capitalize on this technological revolution.”
When News Corp made the acquisition of Move official, Thomson said he wanted to “turbo-charge” Realtor.com.
“In partnership with the National Association of Realtors and its 1 million members, we look forward to turbo-charging realtor.com and making it the most popular and profitable property site in America,” Thomson said in November.
Thomson also said that the acquisition of Move “extends News Corp’s operations globally and digitally, and substantially bolsters the real estate pillar of its business.”
In October, Berkowitz told HousingWire that the News Corp acquisition was “transformational” for Move. “We now have the backing of a major corporation that’s a media company, not a transaction-focused company,” Berkowitz said. “This is really important for Realtors as well. The integration benefits the entire industry.”
But now, Berkowitz will no longer be a part of Move’s next phase.
“We are also extremely grateful to Steve Berkowitz for his years of astute and principled leadership, during which period he secured greater operating flexibility for the business and put the company on a solid growth trajectory,” Thomson said.
“I believe Move is well-positioned for the future, with many good people whom I’ve been honored to work with these past six years,” Berkowitz said. “I’m grateful for all we accomplished together and I leave secure in the knowledge that great things are in store for them and Move.”
News Corp’s executive chairman Rupert Murdoch marked O’Hara’s first days as Move’s CEO with a post on Twitter, showing a meeting between the two in San Jose.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) January 6, 2015
But that’s not the only massive change at Move.
In the SEC filing, Zillow said it is ending its four-year listing agreement with Threewide Corporation. Threewide operates Listhub. Threewide is owned by Move Inc.
“There is no dispute between the parties with respect to the agreement, and Zillow will not incur any early termination penalties as a result of the agreement’s expiration,” Zillow said in its SEC filing.
But a in a statement provide to HousingWire, Move said that it hoped to continue the listing agreement.
“ListHub has been negotiating in good faith a new listing distribution and reporting agreement with Zillow on terms that reflect the best interests of the brokerage industry,” Move said in a statement.
“As communicated in public announcements, Zillow decided to end those negotiations and announced the launch of their own platform. Zillow chose their own route for their business model and interests.”
With Berkowitz out and O’Hara in, plus the ending of the Listhub-Zillow agreement, it truly is a new era at Move.