A Zillow advertising representative was abruptly fired Monday after sending an email on July 4 suggesting that a dissatisfied Premier Agent customer “take up yoga, and breathe a bit,” in response to his request to cancel his membership with the Zillow advertising and lead-generation program.
Jessica Robinson, the former Zillow sales executive in Seattle, was terminated on Monday, five days after she sent the note to Realtor Tony Traynor in the wee hours of the morning on Independence Day. Traynor, an agent with T2K Properties, an affiliate of Keller Williams Chicago-O’Hare, shared the email exchange with Inman.
“Wow Tony, after all the faith and time [Bobby Cyr] and I put into you and your success? Noted,” wrote Robinson, who was hired in November 2017 following a short stint as an agent with McQuaid Commercial Real Estate Brokers in Seattle. “Didn’t want to believe you’d fall, but again, no surprise. You were a risk. Zillow is most definitely not your platform. Disappointed. May I suggest you take up yoga and breath a bit? Happy 4th and good luck ahead without us.”
Traynor had spent the previous 60 days advertising through Zillow’s Premier Agent program, he told Inman. He was drawn in by Zillow’s new My Agent feature, which allows agents to be the exclusive buyer’s agent advertiser on properties that appear on Zillow’s home search portal. Traynor estimates he’s spent between $10,000 and $15,000 advertising on Zillow over the years.
Premier Agent is Zillow Group’s largest single-source of revenue by far, accounting for 71 percent of the company’s $1.1 billion total earnings in 2017, according to an investor presentation. So keeping agent customers on Premier Agent is of utmost financial importance to the company.
After 60 days, Traynor reached out to Bobby Cyr, the advertising representative at Zillow with whom he had been working, and cancelled his contract. Traynor said he was not satisfied with the amount of leads he was generating through Premier Agent. Traynor reported that his interaction with Cyr was positive.
“Nothing bad to say about him,” Traynor said. “He’s a professional.”
Traynor then received the email at 12:27 a.m. Central Standard Time from Robinson, with whom he had spoken several months prior, but not since he began working with Cyr.
Traynor told Inman he believed it was important that other Realtors see the interaction because they contribute so much to Zillow’s bottom line.
On Monday, Inman confirmed with Zillow that the company had terminated Robinson. On her LinkedIn page, Robinson said she’d been a sales executive with Zillow for eight months.
“This is not consistent with Zillow Group’s culture or values,” a spokesperson for Zillow said in a statement. “One of our highest priorities is creating an environment where people do great work and treat each other, our partners and all of our customers with dignity and respect. We take violations very seriously and took prompt action with the employee involved.”
In an statement to Inman, Robinson took responsibility for her actions and apologized to Traynor.
“My email stemmed from frustration and was highly out of line,” she said. “I completely accept all responsibility for my wrong doing and am very remorseful and apologetic for acting from emotion and a place of disappointment. [Tony] is a very good agent and only deserves the best. He is on the right, and I was very much in the wrong. I have learned a big lesson and regret it was at Tony’s expense.”