Why Compass treated Stribling different

Atypical integration of firm’s first NYC acquisition

Jul.July 16, 2019 08:30 AM
Compass CEO Robert Reffkin and  Stribling president Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan (Credit: Compass and Stribling)

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin and  Stribling president Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan (Credit: Compass and Stribling)

For Compass’ first acquisition in New York City, integration has been anything but typical.

On Monday, three months after the deal was announced, the SoftBank-backed brokerage shuttered Stribling.com and began redirecting users to a new landing page for “Stribling at Compass,” the banner under which former Stribling agents will continue to work with founder Elizabeth “Libba” Stribling and former president Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan.

A dropdown menu for Stribling at Compass includes Stribling Marketing Associates, the firm’s new development arm, and Stribling Private Brokerage, a division that handles residential sales above $5 million.

Although Compass CEO Robert Reffkin celebrated the merger with Stribling’s “revered industry professionals,” his $4.4 billion brokerage offered the smaller firm an unusual amount of leeway in terms of how — and when — it adopted the Compass name. Agents also had until Monday to decide whether to brand themselves as Compass, Stribling at Compass or to leave the firm altogether.

A Compass spokesperson said the vast majority — some 96 percent of Stribling’s 300 agents — stayed.

“We decided to implement a gradual transition after listening to Stribling’s agents and sales managers,” Rory Golod, Compass’ New York regional president, said in a statement. “This was optimized for everyone’s comfort” and did not interfere with the spring sales market.

The process was a marked difference from how Compass has seemed to swallow other firms like Alain Pinel Realtors and Pacific Union International, both in San Francisco. In the case of Pacific Union, news of the deal leaked before the official announcement and resulted in some spurned agents leaving the company.

Privately, some sources at Compass have expressed wariness that the leeway offered to Stribling would set a precedent that Compass won’t be able (or willing) to repeat.

At the same time, Compass agreed to retain some form of the Stribling name and the firm’s culture after sources said veteran agents balked at the idea of erasing the firm entirely. Stribling agents continue to report to their managers, with no indication that will change. “Stribling agents and staff will continue to report to me as they always have,” Stribling-Kivlan said in a statement. “I am working in the same capacity and now have more time to focus on the agents and brokerage and my love of real estate.”

Stribling was No. 5 on The Real Deal’s most recent ranking of residential firms in Manhattan with 270 agents and $1.62 billion in sell-side deals last year. Compass placed third with $2.01 billion in sell-side deals.

Although the majority of Stribling agents stayed at Compass, about 10 left including Linda Maloney, Megan Duryea Scott, Merrill Curtis, Amanda Cannon Goldworm and Nancy Tela who went to Sotheby’s International Realty; Nancy Piraquive, who left for Brown Harris Stevens; and Mike Chapman and Amanda Miller Rothlein, who moved to Douglas Elliman.

Unrelated to the Stribling deal, agent Keith Copley and his teammates Gavin Shiminski and Stephanie Trujillo recently left Compass to join the Eklund-Gomes team at Douglas Elliman. Copley told TRD that his two-year stint at Compass was a learning experience but he was ready to return to a traditional brokerage. “I just wanted to go back to a real real estate company that has been established,” he said.

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