Anonymous whistleblower Alleges Zillow is Stealing Listing Data

According to court documents, an anonymous whistleblower is alleging that Zillow is stealing listing data from agent websites. Move and the National Association of Realtors filed suit against Zillow on March 17, 2014, after Samuelson, Move’s chief strategy officer, resigned from Move on March 5, 2014, and joined Zillow as the company’s second-highest paid executive on the same day.

Move and the National Association of Realtors state in a court filing that Move received a letter from an anonymous whistleblower which “appears to confirm” their belief that Errol Samuelson, now the chief industry development officer for Zillow (Z), stole “multiple documents and entire databases” when he worked at Move, and that Zillow is using the stolen information, and is hiding evidence on non-Zillow electronic services.

The original lawsuit alleged breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and misappropriation of trade secrets and accused Samuelson of misappropriating trade secret information by acquiring it using improper means, and by copying it without authorization.

The lawsuit alleged that Samuelson’s knowledge of Move’s trade secrets and strategies would make it impossible for him to function in his new job at Zillow without divulging those secrets, but the whistleblower letter levies harsh charges against Samuelson.

The whistleblower letter also accuses Samuelson of working at Zillow, despite being under an injunction that prevented him from working. In the court filing, Move said that Samuelson conducted “brazen violations” of the court’s injunction by working at Zillow.

From the Move court filing: In addition to claiming theft of agent and realtor.com listing data, the whistleblower letter alleges that:

  • The Zillow sales team scrapes customer lists from realtor.com to target potential advertisers.
  • Zillow is running secret programs called “LSS” and “LSSv2″ around listing quality.
  • Samuelson was working while under a preliminary injunction, contrary to Zillow’s claims.
  • Zillow exec Curt Beardsley stole multiple listing service contact, listing and other databases from Move (his former employer), keeps them in the cloud and uses them in his work at Zillow.

“The defendants have denied the claims, deriding them as ‘silly’ conspiracy theories and claim they have produced everything. The whistleblower’s letter appears to confirm, however, the plaintiffs’ worst fears.”

How do you feel about these claims by former Zillow employee?  We’d love to hear from you.

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