In a video exclusive with The Real Deal, Leonard Steinberg announced that he’s stepping down from his role as president of Compass and is taking on a new position — chief evangelist.

Leonard Steinberg

Steinberg told TRD senior reporter E.B. Solomont that he’s had issues navigating public perception about his decision to remain an active broker while being Compass’ president, possibly giving him an unfair advantage over his colleagues.

Steinberg maintains that the majority of his clientele followed him after he left Douglas Elliman in 2014 and that any new business has come from client referrals.

“I’ve learned over time that there have been agents and brokerages that have said, ‘Why would you want to list with Leonard, or why would you want to work at Compass if you have someone in senior management competing against you for the same business?’” he said.

“Pretty much 99 to 100 percent of my business is an existing clientele that has expanded out of existing clientele — so I think it was a very untrue perception that I think requires more clarity.”

But to quell any doubts, Steinberg will now be the company’s chief evangelist, a role that he says will allow him to continue what he does every day, but without the perception of a conflict of interest.

“In the role of chief evangelist, I have to maintain a culture in the company that is true to our standards and our principles, and that requires daily work,” he said.

“Chief evangelist is a title that is extremely well-known in the tech industry, but it’s completely unknown in the real estate industry, and of course, Compass wants to lead the way, we want to innovate, and we really want to reinforce the message that Compass is not just a traditional brokerage, and it just isn’t a technology company, but it is a hybrid of both.”

(P.S. Inman had a chief evangelist and so did MLS subsidiary RealEstateBusiness Intelligence. ActiveRain has a chief evangelist, and so does brokerage Cazle Realty in Houston, and real estate lead gen firm Work by Referral from Day One.)

Steinberg explained to Solomont that no one will be filling the role since he’s still fulfilling the duties of president. Furthermore, he said, Compass has numerous regional presidents who help keep the business running.

So, how will the industry react, especially after Steinberg’s op-ed about Compass’s contribution to real estate technology went viral and ruffled up some feathers?

“I have no idea how the industry will react [to my announcement], but I do know agents who I care about most know who I am, know how I conduct myself and will completely understand what that means,” he said.

“In the role of chief evangelist, which I feel I have been performing until now, it has very much been a role of setting a standard for the type of professionalism we want our company to provide to the consumer because, ultimately, everything we do is about catering to the consumer.”

Email Marian McPherson.

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