What Compass’ IPO Means
It’s official. Compass is going public. According to a press release Compass issued on Monday, “it has confidentially submitted a draft Registration Statement on Form S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.” While this is perhaps one of the least surprising things to happen so far this week, it is very noteworthy for both its timing and what it means for the industry.
Compass’ impending IPO was not a secret. In December, Compass CEO Robert Reffkin told agents that an IPO would enable them “to invest more in building towards the Compass Northstar,” making anything possible. As TheRealDeal reported, Reffkin outlined four main benefits of an IPO for Compass and its agents: 1) greater brand recognition, 2) public trust, 3) more technology, and 4) employees. In his memo, “he also made a sweeping promise to pour funds into “anything” that serves [Compass’] agents’ businesses.”
Compass has incredible market share and though the early days of the pandemic forced Compass to slow down and cut back, Compass experienced record breaking sales throughout the second half of the year. The company commands a formidable presence in major markets across the country, covering 165+ cities as of the end of last year. It’s valued at $6.4 billion. So what should we make of their IPO and what lays ahead? In short, it’s too early to tell.
It’s unclear whether Compass can truly realize its vision of being an industry disruptor. While incentives like million dollar signing bonuses, higher commissions, and unlimited funds to acquire other companies have skyrocketed Compass’ growth, Compass still operates largely like a traditional brokerage, as opposed to the technology company it brands itself to be. eXp, on the other hand, has been transformational, redefining how real estate agents engage with their customers and transact real estate. Furthermore, eXp has benefited hugely from the shifts in consumer behavior that started before, and were accelerated by, the coronavirus pandemic. eXp now has a market cap of $3.66 billion.
The timing of the IPO is no accident, as Compass comes off of several months of incredible growth and changes in consumer behavior favor digitally savvy agents and strong brands. People have debated Compass’ value for years, with some, like Mike DelPrete, putting data to the claims that Compass’ technology doesn’t really make its agents more productive. Either way, the company still commands a lot of loyalty among agents and consumers alike and the Compass story is a really good one. Stay tuned for the next chapter, everyone.