Side lays off about 40 employees

Brokerage CEO Guy Gal admitted that the fast-growing brokerage has moved too quickly

Last June, Side announced a $50 million venture capital fundraise and was setting its sights on going public. But the San Francisco-based real estate brokerage has not only scaled back its ambitions but acknowledged Thursday it grew too fast.

Side laid off around 40 employees this week in positions across the board, according to sources within the company.

Inman reported Wednesday that Side laid off 10% of the company’s workforce. Side has declined to provide the size of its workforce. The company has also not filed government paperwork regarding mass layoffs, according to the California employment department.

However, according to multiple sources, the business’s labor force had ballooned to about 400 in the last year.

Side co-founder and CEO Guy Gal did provide a written statement about the layoffs.

“In our efforts to meet demand, we grew the team faster than we could train, support, and develop everyone to meet the demands of changing roles and processes,” Gal explained. “Considering this paired with the macroeconomic trends shaping the real estate market, we decided to slow down and get better organized so that we can speed up again.”

Macroeconomic changes have coincided with numerous mortgage lenders laying off workers, as loan officers, unlike most real estate agents, are company employees. But Side is the first national brokerage to announce pink slips.

Side started in 2017 and had a workforce of less than 100 at the start of 2020, according to company sources. But the company quickly expanded from its Bay Area and Los Angeles County base and into Florida and Texas. Side has since ventured into numerous other locales including Oregon, Washington, Washington D.C. and, in January, New York City.

Side’s employees provide administrative and back-end services to its independent contractor agents. Under the company’s business model, agents who are proven producers in a certain market join the company and create their own brand and team of agents, with Side acting as a white-label brokerage.

For example, Beverly Hills and Bel Air agent Ben Bacal left Rodeo Realty in 2019 to join Side. But Bacal brands himself as being part of Revel Real Estate.

The layoffs come after Side has said it was growing at a deliberate pace. Gal has explained in interviews that he is cautious about growing too fast, especially after his stint as an entrepreneur at video content producer and aggregator Joyous.