CEO Robert Reffkin on stage at the Compass REtreat in Atlanta. (Compass)

Compass founder Robert Reffkin vows: ‘I am all in’ 

At the company’s annual agent event, Compass CEO Robert Reffkin touched on the challenging real estate market, declining stock values and what lies ahead.

October 26, 2022
4 minutes

Key points:

  • Reffkin called Compass agents the “best entrepreneurs” who “know how to bounce back with passion.”
  • “The company isn’t the stock, the stock isn’t the company,” Reffkin said about the sharp decline in Compass’ stock value.
  • The CEO touched on his own journey growing Compass and the influence of his mother, Ruth Reffkin, a real estate agent.

Robert Reffkin, founder and CEO of Compass, kicked off the company's annual REtreat event in Atlanta vowing to weather the uncertain real estate market and encouraging agents to look to the future.

"It makes me feel good to be with the best entrepreneurs in the country. People that have been through many cycles before and know how to bounce back with passion," Reffkin told attendees.

Speaking with candor to hundreds of Compass agents, Reffkin said: "I am all in. I am not checking out, I am checking in. My entire net worth is in this company."

Reffkin addressed the impact of rising interest rates that have priced many buyers out of the real estate market and slowed housing sales. "With the Fed coming in and cutting off investment to our industry, we have turned a 10-year advantage into a 13-year advantage. That is where we are right now."

"Now is it an easy time?" Reffkin asked. "No, but it is time to bounce back. The company isn't the stock, the stock isn't the company," he said, in reference to a sharp downturn in the company's stock value, which dropped 16% in the past week and is down 83% since the start of the year, Simply Wall Street reported Wednesday.

Reffkin, a committed marathoner who has competed in all 50 states, compared the obstacles and opportunities under current market conditions to a road race. "I want to share where I think we are, in the timeline of Compass, compared to the hardest thing I've ever completed, running 50 marathons, one in each U.S. state, to raise $1 million dollars for nonprofits," he said.

"That first marathon feels great, it's like a start-up. Reaching the 10th marathon felt so amazing. You hit the 25th… We're halfway there! But 25 to 40, that is a long, grueling and boring haul. I look at Compass' IPO being number 25."

"Now, we are around 30," he said. "When you get to 40, you start feeling really good. Then 50 is euphoric, and we will have that moment together. And I will be with you every step of the way," he said.

"Here is what the moment is going to feel like — we will have delivered on the North Star. Anything an agent needs, Compass will provide. It will be Apple easy and Google fast," he said.

Reffkin touched on his own journey starting Compass in 2012 and the influence of his mother, Ruth Reffkin, a single parent who worked as a real estate agent when he was growing up in New York City. Ruth Reffkin is an agent at her son's real estate company today.

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin and his mother, real estate agent Ruth Reffkin. (Compass)

Reffkin also reflected on the trajectory of Compass, an early innovator in property technology. Reffkin founded Compass a decade ago with engineer Ori Allon, who also played critical roles at Google and Twitter.

The company describes itself as a "technology-enabled" brokerage providing an "end-to-end platform." Compass was among the first real estate companies to emphasize technology and to modernize its platform to benefit consumers and agents. Other major real estate companies followed.

In 2021, Compass went public with assets of $1.8 billion. In 2022, Compass is among several large real estate companies to report layoffs. At Compass, the layoffs have largely been in the technology and engineering divisions, after the company introduced its updated platform.

Reffkin spoke Wednesday about his hope and plans for the future. More than 28,000 real estate agents nationwide represent Compass today. In 2022, the company is emphasizing Compass Concierge and its Sports/Entertainment Division, with dedicated real estate specialists who work with professional athletes and entertainers who want to buy or sell luxury homes.

Reffkin predicted that on the company's 20th anniversary, "I will be on this stage, still working for you," with shared pride in building "the future of real estate."

He added, "We're still here, and we're still strong. I am fortunate that we have each other."

Get the backstory: View profiles of Robert Reffkin and Compass.

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