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Russ Cofano resigns from realtor.com operator Move Inc.

Company loses its head of industry relations for third time in less than 2 years

Takeaways:

  • The head of Move’s industry relations team has quit. He is the third to do so in the last 1 1/2 years.
  • This is the latest in a series of big changes for the operator of realtor.com.
  • Cofano said he does not yet have a new job lined up and he is “looking for the next great opportunity.”

Russ Cofano, senior vice president of industry relations for Move Inc., has resigned.

The decision adds to the tumult the realtor.com operator has experienced over the past year and a half as it battles its biggest competitor, Zillow Group, for the hearts and minds of consumers and real estate agents.

Russ Cofano

Russ Cofano

“I joined Move with the intention of influencing the direction and strategy of realtor.com,” Cofano said in an email to the industry published on the Vendor Alley blog.

“Although I am very proud of our team’s accomplishments and have enjoyed furthering my relationships with you, my role at Move has not evolved as I had hoped.”

Cofano told Inman that it was his decision to leave Move, but declined to comment further.

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Cofano at Inman Connect San Francisco in August

“My email to the industry pretty much says it,” he said. “I tried to make the note fair and accurate and honest,” he added.

Move confirmed that Cofano is leaving, but declined to comment further as “a matter of policy.” Cofano’s last day is Sept. 30.

Cofano, previously CEO of the Missouri Association of Realtors, joined Move in June 2014. At the time of his hiring, Move said he would be responsible for communicating with agents, brokerages, franchisors, Realtor associations, multiple listing services, the broader technology community and the news media to strengthen the position of Move’s businesses.

Cofano and two others, Rhett Damon and Max Pigman, were hired a year ago to expand the team in the wake of departures of two of its leaders. Damon and Pigman remain with the company.

Errol Samuelson, formerly Move’s chief strategy officer and president of realtor.com, and Curt Beardsley, formerly Move’s executive vice president of industry development, both abruptly jumped ship to Zillow, realtor.com’s biggest competitor, in March 2014.

Move promptly filed a trade secrets lawsuit against Zillow and Samuelson and later, against Beardsley as well. That suit is ongoing with a trial date set for June 6, 2016.

In November 2014, global media conglomerate News Corp. acquired Move for $950 million, ending Move’s 15-year run as a public company. A month later, News Corp. tapped one of its own, Ryan O’Hara, as Move’s new CEO.

Greg Robertson, author of the Vendor Alley blog, suggested that Cofano’s departure could have something to do with Move’s new parent company.

“Somehow I get the feeling that working for a Rupert Murdoch company isn’t that fun,” Robertson wrote.

Cofano declined to comment on that assertion. His industry email said, “Our parting is friendly and I will continue supporting the many good things that realtor.com has accomplished under its new ownership.”

Cofano said he does not yet have a new job lined up and he is “looking for the next great opportunity.”

“I intend to stay in this industry and to be an influential contributor to this industry’s future,” he said.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.