The CoStar Group has been the go-to source for commercial real estate data for decades now. They have been able to amass proprietary property data thanks to an army of employees and have stomped out any competition with legal action. The $25 billion dollar company is now battling what seems to be growing discontent from former employees.
First, an Instagram account run by a disgruntled former employee popped up. The account uses memes, satirical images with captions that are one of the weapons of choice in today’s social media conflicts. CoStar’s CEO Andy Florence had this to say about the page in a memo: “He is neither credible nor informed. Truth, accuracy and perspective are irrelevant to his effort to malign those that work at CoStar. I am sorry he is in such a dark place, and I hope he can find a more positive purpose.” Florence even said this some in the company are concerned about their security causing them to step up security in their headquarter in Richmond, Virginia.
Then an investigative article came out highlighting the company’s high turnover. A number of employees that were interviewed for the article accused the company of surveillance and spoke of a hostile work environment. Management allegedly would conduct random video calls to make sure remote employees were at their desk and property dressed.
On Wednesday night fears about security at the company were proved to be well-founded as two cars were set ablaze in the headquarter parking lot. A suspect was arrested but there is no word yet what their connection with the company is.
The hostility comes at a tough time for CoStar, which has seen their stock drop by almost half as investors question their push into the residential real estate data market. CoStar has never been well liked in the industry, even many customers resent the reliance they have on their expensive service, but their position as a source of truth for real estate data creates few options for commercial real estate brokers and investors. Now, though, we are starting to see the downside of aggressive monopolistic behavior as employess are quitting, publically disparaging the company, and maybe worse.