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Ian Springett sacked by OnTheMarket board with immediate effect

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."

  • Simon Shinerock

    In the early days I spent a lot of time and energy criticising OTM’s strategy and Ian Springett’s leadership because of personal slight and because I earnestly believed their approach was misguided. If they had listened to me and others the story could have been so different. As recently as last year, when I enquired about their free to list offer and was told it had ended when it hadn’t, proving they hadn’t really changed, perhaps now maybe they will, I eagerly await a call...

  • Algarve  Investor

    Wowsers. He's been so bullish in the past.

    I imagine a fair few people will be experiencing a dose of schadenfreude with their breakfast this morning, but didn't see this coming one bit.

    After a shaky few years, where it was hit by court cases, overspending on dodgy adverts, and a failure to break through in the same way as Zoopla and Rightmove, OTM did seem to have settled for a solid third spot. But now it seems to have descended into chaos again.

  • Welsh  Cynic

    We were one of the founding members and funders of OTM and we still believe in its potential. However, we were disappointed at their lack of response to suggestions and constructive criticism. Let us hope that that attitude will change and the portal can make strides in the future. There is ample potential, but as an 'agent owned' portal, they would do well to listen to their loyal membership.


    Us too; now left in January after being fed up by nobody listening. For example, I suggested that if they encouraged members to ditch rightmove premium spend it would take 30% off the bottom line of rightmove over night. To me their whole strategy was flawed and the issue was top down. I spoke to one of the Directors who was very keen on my ideas, but was shot down by know-it-all non-estate agent board members.

  • Andrew Goldthorpe

    As soon as Rightmove announced its sale all those years ago, the original "contract" for mutual betterment between agent and business was broken. Despite this, the corporate propaganda juggernaut has been incredibly effective in persuading agents that the only way of marketing real estate is the 20 year old Rightmove model i.e. pay through the nose for the "privilege" of giving control of costs and data to investor led corporations. This behaviour is now so ingrained that agents are even gifting their data to unaccountable, so called "free" portals, and exit-strategised start ups, all of whom claim they will be the next Rightmove. Certainly since its de-mutualisation, OTM was locked on course to go the same way as Rightmove and Zoopla. The difference with OTM is that five years of cash burn, forgotten promises, and failure to overtake Zoopla has left not just a tainted legacy but most importantly a crystal clarity that copying the same IPO model successfully pitched to agents by Rightmove years ago and subsequently exploited by Zoopla is now old news and doomed to failure. As Mike DelPrete recently put it, trying to beat Rightmove is “at best expensive, at worst futile“. I would amend that statement to say, "trying to beat Rightmove at its own game is at best expensive and at worst futile".

    Whilst enormously saddened that agent members are the ones affected and disillusioned by the OTM de-mutualisation, the writing has been on the wall for some time. OTM v1 agents are now jumping ship, albeit back into the arms of the same investor led corporations they thought they were leaving five years ago. However, what Mr DelPrete missed in his recent article on UK portals and yet what Jefferies.com recently recognised, in their laser focused analysis of Rightmove and the UK portal market, is that only PropertyMutual's hybrid mutual business model has "an incredibly disruptive blueprint that would take the agency-portal relationship all the way back to its pure-play mutual roots"- Jefferies.com (12/2019). They go on to say, "New entrants like PropertyMutual have exactly the construct needed to return the industry back to a sustainable agency-backed model. But the challenge is to drive collective action: we think the cycle could be about to do just that." - Jefferies.com (12/2019).

    However, Jefferies most telling advice concerns Rightmove. "It is really only the agent’s fear of losing an instruction from not being on Rightmove that holds back the churn - the greatest threat to Rightmove is therefore collective action across the estate agency industry to communally break free of what has been described as “an abusive relationship”. Unless PropertyMutual rapidly can drive such groupthink, this isn’t imminently likely." - Jefferies.com (12/2019). In other words, agents must accept that nothing will change until they are willing to collectively abandon old methodolgies and start doing things differently.

    Agents have talked about taking collective action against the corporate duopoly of Rightmove and Zoopla for years but lacked a model capable of delivering it. At the start of a new decade and in a particularly challenging market, I believe PropertyMutual's hybrid mutual business model is the idea whose time has come. After all, highly respected Mutuals have been delivering returns to members and yet retaining independence for over a century. Agents have a safe haven in PropertyMutual, as we are structured to never be for sale. Agents need to put OTM out of its misery and fund, own and run PropertyMutual, the original legitimate and ethical mutual that will always put its agent members first, is 100% independent and accountable, and is structured to deliver #collectiveaction by agents for #collectiveimpact.

    After all, the definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting a different result.


    Terrific free ad! How mobile friendly is your continuity Rightmove search site?

  • icon

    I dont know but things are not always as they seem, I wonder what the truth is here .....
    I wonder what his personal share offer was and timescale for selling, versus this "decision by the board..."
    I do wonder how this little venture has impacted on his personal finances ?
    I wonder how much "founder" members have spent being loyal ?
    I wonder how many founder members have relised the share price they were told they would ?
    I wonder how many founder members were told about the "free to list" offer
    Whos fooling who here ?

  • Colin Bain

    IAN (my Pal from a few years ago ) Delete space between / and 1202
    estateagenttoday.co.uk/ 1202-house-buying-crowd-fund-site-relaunching-soon

  • icon

    Altogether now sing........"Aaaaarrn the Market"


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