Entrata’s handling of the founder’s scandal highlights the company’s core values
Utah-based real estate software company Entrata has been in the news lately for a reason it’d rather not be. Company founder and then-board member David Bateman sent a lopsided email to several Utah political leaders and tech executives, throwing the company into crisis management mode. Bateman’s email, which contained only the word “genocide” in the header, was laced with anti-Semitic vitriol and conspiracy theories about how the Covid-19 vaccine will lead to “systematic extermination billions of people”. This isn’t the first time a company has faced public outcry over the behavior of its CEO (ask Tesla), but instead of a performative slap on the wrist, Entrata took deliberate action to not only to remove Bateman from his position (both in the company and on the board), but also showcased the kind of character that they imposed on themselves in their company values. Until now, people probably haven’t paid much attention to how the company defines itself. But the fact that Entrata takes its core values to heart, one of which being “Be great to each other,” indicates that the company can recover from this scandal.
We can’t really talk about Entrata’s values without talking about Bateman’s email. Bateman sent his ugly rant at exactly 4:59 a.m., according to Forbes. In a flash, the email had been leaked to the press, but what was interesting was the refreshing speed of Entrata’s response to the scandal. Later that day, at 5:32 p.m., Edmunds released a statement that Bateman’s views “were his own and did not reflect the views or values of Entrata.” An hour later, Entrata’s board called on Bateman to resign. Two days later, Bateman was ordered to divest himself of all of his holdings in the company. The extent to which Entrara severed ties with Bateman had deeper implications than simply letting go of a staff member.
Entrata not only ousted their founder, they effectively severed a hand that had nurtured them for so long. Bateman started Entrata for nearly 20 years before the company managed to raise $507 million in funding last summer from a group of Silver Lake investors. Coincidentally, this new funding allowed Entrata to hire its current CEO, Adam Edmunds, who would later publicly denounce Bateman for his email.
Although it’s been around since 2003, Entrata has only recently lost its “startup mode” status to a legitimate player in the multifamily software industry. Entrata was originally known as Property Solutions when it was founded. Its software has helped landlords and landlords track and collect payments from their buildings. The company was founded by Bateman, Johnny Hanna, Mike Trionfo and Ben Zimmer after winning a national MBA business plan competition (where later CEO Adam Edmunds was intrigued by the initial pitch).
In an interview with Utah Company Last October, Hanna explained that the idea to disrupt the property management solutions available at the time came from one of the other co-founders’ wives, who happened to be a property manager. “She always shared the headaches associated with property management,” Hanna said. He came up with the idea of starting a software company that would streamline the whole process for her. Property Solutions was born. Entrata, a more “end-to-end” system, was unveiled in 2012 and included accounting, customer relationship management, utilities, insurance, and more. Today, Entrata’s software is used by more than 20,000 apartment complexes across the country and offers users a variety of features such as websites, mobile apps, payments and resident management.
Entrata’s platform provides multi-family property managers with over 20 technology solutions accessible through a single login from any browser or device. It was also built around an open API that allows any vendor to tie into the system and allows users to customize the platform to meet their specific needs.
But it seems the company struggled in its early years because it didn’t have a cohesive set of core values like it does today. Johnny Hanna, one of the aforementioned co-founders, would later leave Entrata in 2015 to co-create Homie, a peer-to-peer real estate platform that connects home buyers, builders and sellers without the use of an intermediary, remembers having experienced a mixture of problems because of the absence of a business thesis. “A lot of our challenges were self-inflicted wounds due to a lack of attention to culture,” he said. The “culture” described by Hanna was not a cohesive vision, but rather a back and forth on how to build a product that didn’t yet exist.
Today, Entrata has defined core values, such as “We show respect to our customers, team members and partners by valuing their time, meeting their challenges and discussing their ideas in order to provide world-class service”, which they neatly held up to by ousting Bateman. Entrata has since contacted a local rabbi to help him understand the roots and impact of his former colleague’s biases. At their request, Rabbi Sam Spector met with Entrata leaders to, as Cheeky writer Arno Rosenfeld put it, “Walk them through the history of classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories like the blood libel and the claim that Jews were responsible for spreading the Black Death in Europe. Medieval Europe”. Entrata even donated a six-figure donation for repairs and renovations to Spector’s ruined synagogue, Kol Ami. “Spector said he was heartened to see the company and political leaders across the state condemning Bateman,” Rosenfeld continued, “but did not expect Entrata’s response to go beyond of the breakdown of its relationship with their founder.” Entrata plans to invite Spector back to speak to all of the company’s 2,500 employees (split between the US and India).
If the company can continue to grow after Bateman, it will be an intriguing case study, not just for other companies looking to steer clear of hot water, but how committed a company should be. to its core values. Entrata presented more than a performative olive branch, they stand by what they have stated for themselves and their community takes notice. Members of Utah’s Jewish community praise Entrata for building bridges. Going the extra mile provides longevity and peace of mind to shareholders, the general public and potential customers, especially now that potential employees now expect their potential employers to pursue a higher goal.