Compass adds first independent director to board

SoftBank’s Vision Fund focusing on corporate governance after WeWork’s bungled IPO

TRD NATIONAL /
Feb.February 27, 2020 10:00 AM
Pamela Thomas-Graham and, from left, Robert Reffkin, Ori Allon and Justin Wilson
Pamela Thomas-Graham and, from left, Robert Reffkin, Ori Allon and Justin Wilson

Under SoftBank’s eye, Compass has added an independent director to its board.

Pamela Thomas-Graham, a banking, fashion and media executive, will be the first independent director and first woman on the board, the brokerage announced. She joins executive chairman Ori Allon, CEO Robert Reffkin and SoftBank’s Justin Wilson. Bloomberg first reported her appointment.

The announcement comes in the wake of WeWork’s bungled public offering, as SoftBank looks to improve corporate governance among companies it has backed. Last summer, WeWork came under scrutiny after its prospectus filing revealed a fully male board. (This month, WeWork named its first female board member.)

Thomas-Graham, 56, currently sits on the boards of several public companies, including the Clorox Company, Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son, Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings, and Peloton Interactive, according to a press release. In a statement, Allon said she would bring perspective to the board, as well as serve as a “guiding voice.”

In addition to her board roles, Thomas-Graham is founder and CEO of Dandelion Chandelier, a digital media outlet covering the luxury market. She previously was a chief marketing officer at Credit Suisse, and had stints at Liz Claiborne, NBCUniversal and McKinsey & Co., where she was the first African-American woman to make partner.

Compass, which was founded in New York in 2012, was valued at $6.4 billion after its most recent funding round. It currently employs 18,000 agents and staff nationwide. Although it’s hit the brakes on new markets, Compass recently said it planned to open offices on the North Shore of Long Island.

In 2019, the private company reported $88 billion in sales volume. Last year, real estate data firm Real Trends ranked Compass as the No. 3 firm nationwide with $45.5 billion in sales in 2018, up from $14 billion in 2017.

Last month, it laid off 40 marketing and IT staffers amid a reorganization of roles to service agents.

This fall, in the wake of WeWork’s failed IPO, Compass took steps to distance itself from the co-working firm. In an email to agents, CFO Kristen Ankerbrandt shared talking points outlining the ways the companies are different, including divergent customer bases and business models.

“It may seem obvious,” she wrote, “But it’s worth stating that it is hard to draw any parallels between our businesses.”


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