Boston-based real estate tech startup Placester has laid off a significant number of staff members and reinstated its original CEO, Matt Barba, in the company’s top spot as it goes back into “development mode,” according to its marketing vice president, Seth Price.

Price confirmed to Inman Thursday night that multiple Placester staff members had been let go. He declined to say how many people would depart the company, but confirmed that it was a significant number and described the move as “a pretty big pivot.” Sources close to the situation told Inman that only 25 of Placester’s once over 140 employees remain.

In addition, Price said that Barba — who co-founded Placester in 2011 but transitioned into the role of chief technology officer earlier this year — will replace Omar Hussain as CEO. Hussain joined Placester in March from Imprivata, a healthcare IT security company.

Placester co-founder Matt Barba and now-former CEO Omar Hussain. Credit: Placester

Price said Thursday that Hussain will now become the executive chair on the company’s board. He was initially brought in, Price added, “because he had a track record of scaling businesses.”

Some staff members who were laid off were informed Thursday. Others including those at the executive level were told earlier so that they could work on the transition, Price said. All employees leaving Placester will be given severance, he added, which will be based on tenure at the company.

Placester launched in 2010 and raised $100 million in total funding. It provides agents and brokers with mobile-enabled real estate websites, lead management tools, email and mobile marketing, and provides libraries of blog content for agents. For a while, it seemed to be doing very well, striking agreements with Keller Williams and RE/MAX Integra to power websites for hundreds of thousands of agents.

In October, the company remade its agent websites, which are provided as a free benefit to members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Seth Price

Price said Thursday that the company is still committed to its core business, but decided to let staffers go because it is “hunkering down” and “basically going back into development mode.”

“There’s so many great opportunities going on in real estate,” Price added, “and technology is moving so quickly, that some of the folks we hired were really hired to grow at all costs.”

Asked if the layoffs and staffing changes reflected any dissatisfaction with Placester’s track record, Price replied that “we’ve had some great success and at the same time, our major innovation hasn’t come in the last two years.”

“It’s the hardest thing to do, when you have something that’s going well, to put on the breaks and say, ‘hey, we’ve got to go into development mode and build for a period of time,'” he continued.

Price did not provide details on what Placester might have in the works, saying more information would be available in the coming months. However, he said that the company is still hiring engineers and that leaders in the company felt the staffing changes were “the right thing to do.”

“Part of being a tech company,” he continued, “is we’re trying to figure out how to stay relevant.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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