Side Deal: Kofi Nartey bolts Compass for VC-backed rival

Agent to superathletes opens shop in Beverly Hills

Kofi Nartey (Credit: Rachel Murray/Getty Images)
Kofi Nartey (Credit: Rachel Murray/Getty Images)

Kofi Nartey, whose celebrity client list includes Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant, has jumped to venture-backed brokerage Side after four years helming Compass’ National Sports and Entertainment Division, The Real Deal has learned.

On Tuesday, Nartey launched Society Real Estate and Development, a boutique shop affiliated with Side, and will focus on celebrity and athlete clients, he said.

The broker has recruited five commercial and four residential agents to join Society, which has leased office space in Beverly Hills. Nartey declined to disclose who joined his venture, noting he recruited agents from Compass, Berkshire Hathaway, Keller Williams, and Engel & Volkers.

“We work with a lot of affluent clientele who are often looking to build out their real estate portfolio,” Nartey said, adding that besides luxury real estate, Society will also facilitate apartment and hotel deals.

A Compass spokesperson said the brokerage wished Nartey success. Nartey had joined the firm in 2016 from The Agency, where he shot to prominence for shopping Michael Jordan’s Chicago mansion and appearing on the TV show “Selling LA.”

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Nartey, a former college football player at UC Berkeley and actor, said he often served as a recruiter and ambassador at Compass, including consulting National Football League players about real estate. He claimed to recruit dozens of agents while at Compass, but noted that even in helping grow the brokerage he had built his own brand.

“Side’s technology and human resources will help me do a lot of the heavy lifting,” Nartey said. “It’s great for entrepreneurs.”

Nartey’s move adds to Side’s portfolio of boutique real estate shops it neither owns nor puts its brand identity upon. The three-year-old, San Francisco-headquartered brokerage has raised $70 million in venture capital, according to an interview earlier this year with chief executive Guy Gal.

The brokerage’s L.A. recruits include top luxury agent Ben Bacal, who started Revel Real Estate under the Side banner in October and recently represented the buyer who paid $94 million for Bruce Makowsky’s “Billionaire” mansion.

Gal has described Side as serving the “segment of entrepreneurial agents who are using brokerages as transaction processing vendors – nothing more.”