Job Vacancy – CEO

2 minute read

REA Group today announced the departure of CEO and Managing Director – Simon Baker, effective immediately. Chief Financial Officer Georg Chmiel has been appointed as acting CEO until a replacement is announced.

This comes as a little bit of a shock, I honestly thought Simon would be around until he was poached by another company. The Chairman of REA Group Richard Freudenstein said,

“Over the past seven years REA has grown from a single Australian website into a world-leading online property company, with operations in 10 countries and publishing 22 websites and 8 print publications. Now the Board feels it is time for new leadership to take the business to the next level. The Board would like to thank Simon for his contribution to this success and we wish him well in his future endeavours.”

This announcement comes on top of some pretty impressive results. REA’s results for the fiscal year ended in June are astonishingly good.

– Revenue of between $152 million and $156 million (up by 41% to 46%)
– EBITDA of between $35 million and $37 million (up by 49% to 57%)
– More than 22,400 paying agents as at 30 June 08 (up by 5,400 paying agents from 30 June 07)

The New Replacement
Well if you look at the above figures, it is a pretty big ask. My guess if the board want to continue with this growth, then the next CEO will last less than 12 months, as I cannot see that % of growth continuing.

Simon Baker
I have dealt with Simon Baker on a number of occasions over the years and whilst we disagreed on a range of issues, he has always been available for a chat. I wish him well in his future endeavours. He will have leave big shoes and even higher expectations for his successor.

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  • Greg Vincent
    Posted August 4, 2008 at 9:32 pm 0Likes

    I agree they are some very big shoes to fill. The figures speak for themselves. Hats off to you Simon.

    PS. Peter your recent post about ‘ starting to show some bite’ must have had him shaking in his boots. 🙂

  • Russell Henry
    Posted August 4, 2008 at 10:45 pm 0Likes

    As a former employee (until last month) of REA I have had the pleasure of learning from Simon Baker’s “global” vision.

    I suspect the “alllure” of a similar challenge somewhere on the planet is what he seeks, as we all need to reassess from time to time what challenges excite & motivate us & whether our current environment can nurture & sustain that “passion”…then again he could just cash in his REA shares & put his feet up…but I would doubt that. 🙂

    Congratulations on what has been & is an overwhelming success story with REA Group.

    Not bad for a guy who only discovered “hair product” less than 12 months ago!

    And to all my mates at REA…..don’t worry, I’m not applying! 😉

    Cheers 🙂

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 12:02 am 0Likes

    effective immediately!

    the Board feels it is time for new leadership!

    What did he do to the board besides make them a stack of money?

  • Shane
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 8:45 am 0Likes

    That was rather sudden! Totally agree with Glenn’s comments.

    I’m sure he’ll move on to something even better next.

  • Tom
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 9:38 am 0Likes

    I think it is obvious Simon is not leaving because he wants to. Why on earth would a Board terminate an individual who creates the only international on line realestate business and takes it from $6 million and three weeks before insolvency to $150 million plus with continuous growth in profit. Builds a team of 700 plus professionals from 25 individuals.

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 10:22 am 0Likes

    Got to agree Tom… buy why? that’s the burning question..

  • gordo
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 11:54 am 0Likes

    no one’s perfect. Simon Baker has done quite a lot. The least is that he shook domain a lot and really established REA as a brand name.

    Very impressive talent and I am sure he will be making positive headlines soon again.

  • SSSR
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 1:44 pm 0Likes

    According to an article in smart company Simon was told to leave… Not enough international experience. Might be a glimpse into the companies future stratgies and that Oz might not be the core focus in the future??

  • SAJ
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 2:12 pm 0Likes

    It may be a cynical view, but maybe this signals the end of the independence of REA and the start of a News Corp/Ray White dominated strategic direction. The Board of REA is dominated by News/Whites/McGrath ? I wonder who has the interests of the RE Agents and the industry at heart ?

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 2:39 pm 0Likes

    Simon Baker also sheds some light, well very little, sounds a little bewildered but maybe SmartCompany are right and they (REA) want someone they can control. Either way, I think the next CEO will have his hands full.

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 3:04 pm 0Likes

    Some of the comments have this announcement reading like an orbituary – just not exactly sure for whom?

    I hear in the interim that he has taken a job delivering The Mosman Daily to get a *better* understanding of the print category.

    Whist we never really got on he did manage to master the art of third party advertising on the REA website. Which in my opinion was always to the detriment of the agents whom used this facility. Anyway the Board obviously felt it was “time to go”!!

    Hopefully, the new CEO will spend some time addressing what is best for the agents and NOT the third party advertisers and immediately replace the oldest and most convoluted homepage in real estate.

    Apologies sent that I won’t be able to attend his farewell drinks.

  • terry
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 3:05 pm 0Likes

    Simon Baker may well have had success at a high level but my dealings with are by far the worst of any web company. Shocking service for my real estate clients – embarrassingly so. If Simon was pushed I would suggest they did him a favour.

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 3:30 pm 0Likes

    Or maybe this scenario,

    News Limited need to greater support their print classifications which means they need 100% ownership of a property portal. The share price of REA is declining so a great opportunity to take complete control. Now Simon would not exactly fit into a News Ltd “coat and tails” so this made the relationship with the board untenable.

    His replacement will no doubt be a News Ltd appointee who has enjoyed past experiences of being on their pay roll!!

  • anonymous employee
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 6:00 pm 0Likes

    It’s a great shame. Working at REA for the past few years, one of the most inspiring people i’ve ever had the pleasure to work for has left the building. An amazing realised vision in the global network he created.

  • snoop
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 6:21 pm 0Likes

    done his time and paid for the crime
    pity he didnt vest all those options 9 mths back !!!!

  • SAJ
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 7:59 pm 0Likes

    What a shame about the intellectual capacity shown by Simeon and Snoop.. I guess the industry is where it deserves to be…

  • adam
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 8:07 pm 0Likes

    So Robert, are you on Fairfax’s payroll ?

  • chris
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 8:33 pm 0Likes

    SAJ, you must understand that Robert S represents the ‘lunatic fringe’ of the industry.

    Too much time in the Thailand sun me thinks…

  • AJ
    Posted August 6, 2008 at 1:48 am 0Likes

    Or is it ‘telephone bar’ in Bangkok?

  • SVW
    Posted August 6, 2008 at 9:06 am 0Likes

    this is my first comment on this forum i have been tempted several times in the past to respond to comments however this move of simon bakers has lead me to make a comment ,i enjoy a role in the industry that has me at the coalface with real estate agents up and down the eastern seaboard of which the majority of them have a massive dislike for and are only a subscriber to it because they can’t afford not to be at this stage , however i must say the only face of REA that gave most of these people some comfort was Simon ,he has fended off the question so many times with regards their future commercial model , the shareholders of REA want a bigger piece of the average commission on every property sale in this country there is no doubt about this ,for example it now costs you per property to put holiday lettings on REA $500 per property actually ,this is the sign of what is to come ,my belief is that Simon has said it so many times that it is not in REA plans to set up their own Real Estae shopfronts they won’t change their existing model too much etc etc , i have to say the board of REA don’t support that reasurrance and one can only assume that Simon and the other directors could not co exist any longer , this is like Sonny Bill Williams leaving the bulldogs in the manner he has ,it heralds a change of commercial thinking from REA that can not be good for real estate agents in this country .

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted August 6, 2008 at 10:36 am 0Likes

    Great to see the peanut gallery alive and well here 🙂

  • adam
    Posted August 6, 2008 at 4:07 pm 0Likes

    Well when you have monkeys around, you need to throw peanuts to them Robert 🙂

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted August 6, 2008 at 4:43 pm 0Likes

    Thanks Adam – you answered my question LOL

  • totally
    Posted August 9, 2008 at 9:27 am 0Likes

    “the shareholders of REA want a bigger piece of the average commission on every property sale in this country there is no doubt about this”

    Incorrect – they want a large piece of our marketing budget.

    Robert – get a clue…3rd Party ads average a click rate of less than can that be so bad for us?

    The truth is they enhance the user experience and keep people coming back and online longer

  • Anon
    Posted August 12, 2008 at 12:48 pm 0Likes

    Get you’re money out of REA if you have shares.
    I know how this works in Australia and REA is what it is because of one man…Baker, there’s no substantial market out of Australia so the AU market is where the $’s are and they just sacked the guy that knows this market better then anyone else.

    They think they know real estate better than Baker ??? just watch the decline.


  • i know who you are
    Posted August 13, 2008 at 2:26 pm 0Likes

    well, I hope that News actually conducts a good audit on their IT processes and structure. In the present state, they (IT) could dismiss 35 out of 50 projects per year wanting to achieve perfection (at cost of the business).

    Let’s hope a new structure kicks in and some bottlenecks get removed (for good) up there.

    -this might retain some good staff up in level 3

  • snoop
    Posted August 14, 2008 at 10:53 am 0Likes

    third party ads enhance the consumer experience
    Surely you jest Totally!

    Inciteful comments Robert.
    From what I hear you are on the money

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