Compass’ chief people officer is out

Sara Patterson leaves after three months; firm hires new general counsel

Sara Patterson and Compass CEO Robert Reffkin (Credit: Getty Images)
Sara Patterson and Compass CEO Robert Reffkin (Credit: Getty Images)

Sara Patterson, the top human-resources executive at Compass, is out after just three months at the residential brokerage.

In an email to staff Wednesday seen by The Real Deal, CEO Robert Reffkin said the brokerage hired Brad Serwin, a Glassdoor executive, as general counsel. But he noted that the firm also “parted ways” with Patterson, a former Walmart and Gilt executive, who was hired as chief people officer in February.

Serwin replaces David Carp, who left in April. Serwin, Reffkin said, “will help us continue to grow while laying the foundation for an eventual IPO.”

Reffkin also noted that Patterson would be replaced by Margaret Smith, who has been at Compass for three years and most recently served as head of talent.

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Compass slashed spending after the coronavirus shut down activity in key markets. In March, it laid off 15 percent of its staff after projecting a 50 percent drop in revenue for the next six months. It also reduced salaries by 10 to 50 percent.

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Last year, one of its biggest departures was COO Maelle Gavet, who left just a few months after Compass’ top marketing and product executives resigned or were forced out.

Having raised $1.5 billion from investors, most prominently SoftBank, Compass was valued at $6.4 billion in July. But that number has come under scrutiny after WeWork’s botched IPO. The co-working firm, once valued at $47 billion, was this week valued at $2.9 billion.

During an appearance on CNBC on Wednesday, Reffkin conveyed optimism in the market and in his own firm’s prospects. Year-to-date revenue is up 47 percent year-over-year, he said, adding that “we’re seeing an accelerated shift from traditional companies to tech-enabled companies.” In the email to staff, Reffkin noted that Compass was starting a cloud-based initiative that would allow them to support “customers” virtually and “launch in new markets more quickly and in areas we might not have previously considered.”