Former Keller Williams CEO John Davis insisted in an open letter to Inman that he resigned from the real estate franchise last week and was not fired.

Keller Williams founder Gary Keller has retaken the role of CEO at his namesake real estate franchise with a series of bold statements, but now outgoing CEO John Davis is speaking up, too.

Davis emailed Inman a brief open letter dated Jan. 14, saying he wanted to address questions from his supporters following his sudden departure on Jan. 7.

“A lot of you have asked whether I was fired, or did I resign?” Davis writes in the brief letter, a copy of which can be read in full below. “I simply resigned.”

John Davis

John Davis | Credit: Keller Williams

Davis states he made the decision to leave by himself without pressure from anyone else at the company, a statement that a spokesman for Texas-based Keller Williams said was accurate.

Davis further writes that after he informed Gary Keller of his decision, Keller tried to retain him and offered him the chance to start a new venture together, but Davis declined. A Keller Williams spokesperson could neither confirm nor deny that account to Inman.

Davis did not elaborate further in the letter on his reasons for resigning, nor did he map out his future plans. Read the full text of his letter sent to Inman below:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the countless people for their calls, texts and emails…! Your well wishes and concern have touched me deeply!

A lot of you have asked whether I was fired, or did I resign?

I simply resigned…

I met with Gary Friday, January 4th to share my decision. He asked me to take the weekend to think about it. I agreed to do so.

We got back together Monday January 7th. He again asked me to reconsider and offered to start a new business with me. I respectfully declined his offers and told him that my resignation was final.

I had hoped to issue a joint statement with Gary to announce my departure and to THANK everyone in the Keller Williams Family. IT HAS BEEN AN AMAZING 20+ YEAR RIDE! We made History together! We took care of our people and our brothers and sisters in other companies during times of disaster!

We laughed… We cried… We THRIVED!

Gary… THANK YOU for letting me be a part of this great company!

In closing, I would like to wish the Keller Williams Family and the entire Real Estate Community a Healthy and Prosperous 2019!

With GREAT respect and gratitude,
John Davis

Inman has reached out to Davis for further comment on the letter, but has not heard back.

A spokesperson for Keller Williams confirmed most details of the letter are accurate. The spokesman insisted Davis’ departure was neither tenuous nor dramatic, adding that Davis was “a great leader.”

Gary Keller at Inman Connect San Francisco

Gary Keller at Inman Connect San Francisco 2018 | Credit: Scott Chernis

“John’s implementation of models and systems through the Growth Initiative have strongly positioned Keller Williams to lead the real estate industry into the future,” the spokesman said. “While he has decided to move on from his position at Keller Williams Realty International, we wish him nothing but the best in the future.”

A 20-year Keller Williams veteran, Davis launched Keller William’s growth initiative in 2011, expanded the franchise by another 100,000 associates and was named CEO in early 2017, serving in the role for almost two years and earning a 94 percent employee approval rating according to one survey, before abruptly resigning last week.

Gary Keller gave a technology talk for Keller Williams employees on Jan. 11, three days after Davis’ resignation was made public, but did not go into further details of Davis’ departure, instead outlining future plans and attacking rival eXp’s virtual education as antiquated.

Email Patrick Kearns

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