Jay Thompson announces retirement from Zillow

'The simple reason for retiring now is it’s just that time,' Thompson wrote in a blog post

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Zillow evangelist Jay Thompson will retire and step down from his role as director of industry outreach for the online real estate company this summer, he announced in a blog post Thursday.

“I’m 57 years old. I want to retire while I am still young and spry enough to enjoy life,” Thompson wrote.

“The simple reason for retiring now is it’s just that time,” he added. “We are financially secure, we have places we want to see, friends and family we want to visit, and things to do. Francy and I have been married almost 27 years. I’ve spent a significant chunk of that time working, growing a real estate business, working, building a brokerage, working, employed by Zillow, and working some more.”

Thompson didn’t give an exact date, but said he would likely make it official this summer. In his post, he said Zillow supported his decision and that he’s a retiree, “not a quitter.”

“Zillow will be just fine,” Thompson added in an interview. “Nobody’s irreplaceable. They’ve already got some plans in place and are talking about things to do.”

In his role at Zillow, Thompson spent his time responding to criticism of the company on industry sites and Facebook groups. He often debated others in real estate who said that Zillow wanted to eliminate agents or become a brokerage. Thompson suffered a heart attack a few years ago.

In his retirement, Thompson said, he might attend an occasional real estate conference — including Inman Connect — and transfer his real estate license from Arizona, where he got started, to Washington state, where he lives now. He plans to stay active on social media, just maybe not in quite as many real estate Facebook groups.

Along with that, Thompson plans to spend time sailing, learn to play the guitar, travel to Greece, Paris, London and Scotland, and spend time with his, wife, 26-year-old son and 24-year-old daughter, who works at Zillow.

“I will absolutely stay involved in real estate. It’s who I am — I can’t just flip that off like a light switch,” Thompson said. “Real estate will always be a part of my life and social media will always be a part of my life.”

Zillow and Thompson haven’t yet figured out if someone will take over his exact role, Thompson said. But if anyone’s interested in his type of position, they should get in touch, he said.

“During Jay’s time at Zillow Group, he’s been an incredible resource to all of us, and to the agent and broker community,” Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff told Inman in an email. “His deep real estate experience has been invaluable to us — allowing us to connect more deeply with our partners in the industry. But even more than that, he’s a dear friend. We’ll miss his contributions and good spirit around the office, but are so excited for him and his family and their adventures ahead.”

Email Emma Hinchliffe