The future of Purplebricks in the U.S. is cloudy. The U.K.-based discount brokerage launched in the U.S. in 2017 and has had a massive turnover in leadership roles in recent months, and after shuttering its Australia operations, the U.S. footprint is under review.
Eric Eckardt, the former U.S. CEO for Purplebricks told Inman that he first initiated discussions to exit the company in February 2019.
“It was important to me to provide sufficient notice to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities,” Eckardt said.
And even after the split, he doesn’t have any regrets or harsh words for his former employer and its growth in the U.S. His reason for leaving was simple to pursue a new opportunity.
“I’m very proud of the U.S. Team’s accomplishments,” Eckardt told Inman by email. “We launched and scaled operations to build a national platform, providing access to over 25 percent of the addressable market.”
“I’m an entrepreneur, and my decision to leave aligns with a desire to pursue a new opportunity that will allow me to build a more efficient consumer model that’s closely aligned with local markets,” Eckardt added. “I’m currently working with an outstanding team on a project that will soon be announced to the marketplace.”
Eckardt also told Inman that he felt there was adequate support from the U.K. operations, saying that the founders were fully immersed in U.S. operations. One of those founders, Michael Bruce – who was also operating as the company’s global CEO – recently stepped down.
Roger Zelaya, who was running brokerage operations in California told Inman that he resigned shortly after Eckardt to rejoin a local RE/MAX franchise. He said that most of the decisions that affected his state and U.S. operations were being made by transplants from the U.K.
Purplebricks made its first foray into the United States in late 2017, launching first in Los Angeles. It’s since expanded into New York, Connecticut, Nevada, Arizona, Florida and New Jersey. Since launching, the company changed its U.S. business model to what it bills as “success fee” pricing.
Zelaya and Marcus Fleming – the broker of record in Arizona and Nevada – have both left the company this year.
In California, Mitch Stever is the only listed registered broker still affiliated with Purplebricks with a broker’s license, according to public records. Stever’s LinkedIn page says he’s the state training director for California.
Tom Kirk’s LinkedIn page says he’s the state sales director for California. Kirk has been with Purplebricks in the U.K. since March 2015. Kirk received his California salesperson license in March 2019, according to public records.
In Arizona, Fleming is still the broker of record, despite no longer working at the company. His LinkedIn page says he started as the chief operating officer for Rocket Lister in May 2019.
“Michael and Kenny Bruce, the founders influenced a lot and brought on their staff in key positions,” Zelaya said. “I am sure they have had success in the U.K., but the U.S. market is a different story. Most of the U.S. hires have already exited and have left Purplebricks with several voids in leadership.”
Zelaya told Inman of a lack of communication in the wake of Eckardt’s departure. Despite Eckardt telling Inman that he notified Purplebricks early for a smooth transition, Zelaya said his team was shocked.
“There was no immediate communication on the executives who exited this year and I believe they were not prepared for Eric Eckardt, US CEO’s resignation,” Zelaya said. “There was no formal communication until it was announced on the street.”
“The entire U.S. team was disappointed with Eric’s departure, most of the founding team in California was in shock and they were calling me for answers, but I had none,” Zelaya said.
Eckardt wasn’t the only significant departure. According to a source, Jonathan Adler, the chief marketing officer of Purplebricks is no longer with the company. Adler’s LinkedIn page hasn’t been updated recently, but he’s no longer listed on the company’s website as chief marketing officer.
Zelaya doesn’t know if Purplebricks has a future in the U.S. He said Bruce was always involved in U.S. operations, even when Eckhardt was with the company. Now with both Bruce and Eckhardt gone and the company reviewing its U.S. operations, Purplebricks’ future in the U.S. is a question mark.
“It is my opinion that there is a talent void at Purplebricks,” Zelaya said. “The current team lacks brokerage experience, this might be the reason why it’s under strategic review. Australia is already winding down and it appears that the U.S. might be next.”
Purplebricks’ U.S. communications team did not respond to a request for comment.