OnTheMarket has announced this morning that it has given notice to its chief executive, Ian Springett, with immediate effect.
The troubled portal's board has appointed Clive Beattie, chief financial officer, as acting chief executive officer. Korn Ferry, an executive search consultancy, has been appointed to conduct the formal recruitment process for a permanent replacement.
As usual in these circumstances there's a word of thanks from the company chairman - laced with news of what is effectively a humiliating sacking for Springett.
OTM chairman Christoper Bell says: "On behalf of the board and all our colleagues I would like to thank Ian for his hard work and commitment over many years. He has played a major part in helping establish OnTheMarket.com as one of the UK's leading residential property portals and we wish him every success in the future.
"Our commitment to building a strong, agent-backed, profitable and technology-enabled business remains undiminished. However, to continue our progress toward this objective and take OTM forward through the next phase of its corporate development, the board believes now is the right time to appoint a new chief executive.
"The board remains very confident in the prospects of OTM and its potential in capitalising upon its substantial growth opportunities. We have built a talented team and we will continue to ensure that we provide innovative, affordable and valuable solutions to meet our customers' changing needs."
OTM also gave a trading statement this morning, saying its revenues for the year to the end of January were slightly above the £18m guidance previously given.
Springett has been a hugely divisive character in his period at OTM, running the portal with a highly individualistic approach: he described online agencies as "parasites" and during his time in office the portal set up a 'one other portal only' rule backed by vigorous legal action, appeared to change strategy from attacking Zoopla and aiming to be number two portal to attacking Rightmove instead, allowed at least one estate agent critic to be excluded from a meeting during the portal's set-up period, and favoured one industry publication over others.
On the OTM website - where this morning Springett was still named as chief executive and one of the portal firm's five directors - his CV is described this way: "After holding a number of senior banking roles over 15 years within NatWest Group, the last five years of which as managing director of Lombard Bank, Ian founded PrimeLocation.com in 2000 and, as chief executive, led its growth and ultimate sale to DMGT in 2006. He remained with the business until 2008, when he left to pursue other interests.
"From 2012, he worked with the agent founders of Agents’ Mutual to develop its strategy and proposition and led the recruitment of the broader group of agents who provided funding for the venture in early 2014. Ian has driven the successful launch and growth of the OnTheMarket.com business and led its demutualisation in 2017 and admission to [London stock market] AIM alongside the capital raise on 9 February 2018."