Barely two hours after news of Xceligent CEO Doug Curry’s firing broke Tuesday evening, rival CoStar sent out an email to its customers touting the decision as a moral victory and alleging that he was fired because of CoStar’s accusations in court.
“It seems obvious that Xceligent’s board did not find Doug’s denials credible,” CoStar wrote, without providing evidence.
CoStar, the leading provider of commercial property and leasing data, sued its rival Xceligent in December, alleging that it systematically stole its data. On Friday it notched a major victory, when an Xceligent contractor told a judge that it was directed to scrape CoStar’s database. Xceligent alleges that CoStar pressured the contractor to make its statement with the threat of lawsuits.
On Monday evening Xceligent’s owner, the British media company Daily Mail and General Trust, told Curry that he would be fired along with his wife Erin, the firm’s chief people officer.
Sources close to Xceligent insist that the firing had nothing to do with the lawsuit, but CoStar drew a different conclusion in its email. The firm has been waging an at times dirty PR war against its rival. Tapping into nativist themes, it noted in another Monday email to customers that Xceligent is a “foreign owned company” and accused it of running a “research sweatshop in the Philippines jungle.”
Curry hit back in June, filing an antitrust lawsuit against CoStar. “We gladly take up this fight and we will not rest until the industry has clear safeguards against an obvious abuse of power by CoStar,” he said in a statement at the time. Several other smaller data companies have accused CoStar of using lawsuits to stifle competition. Curry, who co-founded the company in the late 1990s, sold the lawsuit as a battle on behalf of the entire real estate data industry, branding CoStar a “decades-long monopoly.”
His successor Frank Anton sounds far less enthusiastic about the legal fight. “I don’t have a measure of passion,” he told Bisnow Monday. “If there was a personal feud between Doug and (CoStar CEO Andrew Florance), I’m not part of that, I don’t know much about it and I don’t think it’s terribly relevant.”
Asked if he thinks CoStar is a monopoly, he took a stark departure from his predecessor’s rhetoric. “You’re really not allowed to be a monopoly in the United States,” he claimed.