Two San Francisco Bay Area entrepreneurs hired a year ago to help run one of Northern California’s biggest real estate brokerages after it rebranded as Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Mason-McDuffie Real Estate have left the firm.

Mason-McDuffie named SmartZip Analytics co-founder Frank Richards co-CEO in October 2010, saying he would share leadership duties with Chairman Ed Krafchow, the company’s top executive for nearly two decades. A few weeks later, Mason-McDuffie named another SmartZip co-founder, Dan Worley, chief strategy officer.

Richards and Worley have left Mason-McDuffie "to pursue other interests," but will continue to provide consulting and advisory services to the company, said Cathy Harrington, the brokerage’s vice president of new media and agent resources.

Harrington said Dougan Jones, a 30-year industry veteran and former CEO of Prudential Utah Real Estate, has been named managing director of Mason-McDuffie. Jones joined the firm in February and has been serving as managing partner of the company’s Wine Country Group in Sonoma County.

Ranked by Real Trends as the 19th-largest brokerage in the U.S. in 2010 by closed sales volume, Mason-McDuffie claims more than 2,000 sales associates in 40 offices in Northern California and Nevada.

Last year the firm ended its 13-year affiliation with Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services Inc. and signed a 20-year franchise agreement with Realogy Corp.’s Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC.

In announcing its new franchise agreement, the company also announced a merger with Walnut Creek-based brokerage Security Pacific Real Estate, and said more companies were poised to come aboard.

"In the last six months, we have acquired six companies across the Bay Area within our footprint," Harrington said. "The key focus of our firm remains to grow profitably within our footprint while gaining market share to support and enhance our agents’ business."

Worley "was instrumental in negotiating the merger" with Security Pacific, Mason-McDuffie said in announcing the appointment of the SmartZip co-founder as chief strategy officer last year. According to Worley’s LinkedIn profile, he continues to serve as a "board observer" at SmartZip.

Mason-McDuffie and SmartZip are both based in Pleasanton, a city east of San Francisco within commuting distance to Silicon Valley that was formerly the corporate headquarters of PeopleSoft.

In April 2010, Mason-McDuffie announced it was partnering with SmartZip to provide home investment ratings on the brokerage’s website. SmartZip says its ratings and home reports take into account neighborhood-level price trends, indicators of housing demand, risk assessment, and expense and cash flow analyses.

Harrington said Mason-McDuffie will continue to use SmartZip products, "as agents use these tools for acquiring listings and providing needed data to buyers."

Richards, Worley and another Mason-McDuffie executive, Keith Robinson, were also colleagues at another Pleasanton-based company, NorthPoint Financial Group, an investment and financial advisory firm that claims to have helped clients invest in more than $1 billion in residential real estate nationwide.

According to Robinson’s LinkedIn profile, he was named NorthPoint’s vice president of sales in 2003 and "worked closely with the founders of SmartZip Inc. and was a contributor from the beginning as the company grew."

Harrington said Robinson, who was hired by Mason-McDuffie in May 2010, is remaining with the company as executive vice president supporting agents and managers in Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties.

When Richards’ appointment as co-CEO was announced, the companies said they had "a close strategic alliance," and that Richards would continue to serve as the chairman of NorthPoint’s board of directors, which he and Worley founded in 2001.

Inman News was unable to reach Richards or Worley for comment. A website and phone number once used by NorthPoint is no longer active.

Earlier this month, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Mason-McDuffie’s former president, Pat Shea, was named president of Sacramento, Calif.-based Lyon Real Estate. Harrington said Shea’s departure and the latest management changes were unrelated.

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