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Founder's Letter 2022

April 4, 2022

April 4, 2022


To my Apartment List family - after 14 years building Apartment List from a dream inspired by my own rental headaches in a tiny New York apartment to helping over 790,000 families find home, I’ve made one of the most difficult decisions of my life. I am officially transitioning out of my day-to-day role as operating CEO and elevating the next generation of leadership at Apartment List. It is with tremendous pride and unwavering confidence that I turn the reins to Matthew Woods, a veteran Apartment List Executive and the new CEO of Apartment List. I will continue to serve as Chairman of the Apartment List Board of Directors and will always be its most ardent supporter and champion. It’s bittersweet to walk away from a business I love with all my heart, but I’m eternally grateful for the ride of a lifetime.


The role of any great CEO is to work themselves out of a job. It has long been my vision for Apartment List to grow and thrive beyond my day-to-day involvement, and this is only possible thanks to our insanely talented team. When people ask about the secret sauce of Apartment List, it’s a clear and unequivocal answer: the people. I have always been - and continue to be - inspired by the team I partner and dream alongside. Not only have we built a formidable and growing company, we’ve built it in our uniquely Apartment List way - with a people-first approach and a “care more” conviction. When many years have passed, it will always be the people who have been intertwined in our lives that I will remember the most. This part of my life journey has been so fulfilling, succeeding as one team and one family.


Apartment List is a company built on the promise of reinvention, and this new era we’re ushering in is no different. As those who know me well have come to understand, I’m a big fan of personal reinvention - and I believe it’s healthy for a company to continually grow, evolve and re-evaluate what is needed for each stage. Replacing myself as CEO is an important part of expanding our growth and realizing our massive ambition. From my earliest days of user testing and client calls to hiring an incredible team of over 250 fearless Apartment Listers across the world, my role has transformed exponentially. Our mission, however, to deliver every renter a home they love, has never wavered - nor has our vision of helping more families find home than any other rental marketplace. New leadership and a fresh perspective will help Apartment List transcend to the next level and I am fired up to work hand-in-hand with our amazing Board and Leadership team to continue to propel our mission forward. I couldn’t be more proud of where we are today, or bullish on our future.


It’s one of my greatest professional honors to promote our very own Matthew Woods to CEO of Apartment List. The Board is universally aligned that Matthew is the person for the job. He understands the company and its people better than anyone. Over the past five years, Matthew has left a huge and lasting mark on the trajectory of our business, and on each and every one of us who are lucky to call Matthew a colleague and a friend. From building our unstoppable Go-to-Market organization and serving on the Executive team to being a culture-carrying force and everyone’s trusted mentor, we’re all better thanks to Matthew’s guidance, competitive spirit, and authenticity. Matthew has an amazing work ethic and intellectual horsepower; he’s also the best leader I have ever worked alongside. He leads with everything he’s got - through his mind, with his grit, and in his heart. My belief in Matthew’s ability and fit is resolute and I am excited to support Apartment List’s continued growth with him at the helm.


I’ve spent over one-third of my life as the CEO of Apartment List and I’m continually struck by how grateful I am to have worked with all of you. From humble beginnings with trains shaking the floor of our first Palo Alto office and nearly going out of business a dozen times, to a nine-figure revenue organization, we always bet on ourselves and on our team. We pivoted the business model more times than most humans can take, and made incredible friends along the way. Huge thanks to both Chris Herndon and Chris Erickson for believing in our vision, and for their partnership in building Apartment List. I am eternally grateful to Denis Grosz for taking a risk on us before anyone would, to Dana Stalder for betting on people and leading our Series A and to Rich Boyle for having the perseverance to lead our Series B. We’ve also lost good friends that we will never forget - J-Latt and Woody will forever be etched in the hearts of our Apartment List team.

Leading Apartment List has been the greatest privilege of my life and it’s truly been a full family affair. My parents and sister have quietly listened in on more Company All Hands than I can count, and I so appreciate their ongoing support and belief in me. I met and married my amazing wife Jenna and celebrated with our Apartment List family. We welcomed our daughter Payton into the world, with a purple onesie in tow. Apartment List has been with me through my most important life milestones and I’ve grown as a leader, a father, a partner, a son and a friend in ways I didn’t know imaginable.


More than 790,000 families have found home on our platform since 2014. We’ve raised over $170 million in capital from some of the most preeminent investors on the planet. 6 million units are under contract on our platform, which means 13% of all the rental owners and managers in the United States trust Apartment List to help renters find homes in their communities. We’ve modernized the product and pushed the industry, the first to align incentives with a success-based revenue model, built entirely within the property management software ecosystem. We pioneered an auction-based pricing model and recently announced our latest acquisition, which marries advanced AI technology with a human touch to supercharge the future of renting. We’ve built a capital-efficient business, and even in the face of a global pandemic, achieved profitability. None of this would have been possible without millions of renters and countless property managers and owners supporting us from our earliest days.


It’s extremely difficult to walk away from something I love. I’m in the enviable position of having a phenomenal successor, talented and determined Executive and Leadership teams, the most spirit-filled employees, and the utmost confidence in the huge opportunity Apartment List has ahead. I always knew there would come a time when I’d write this letter, officially turning over the reins of CEO. I never realized how hard this may be, nor how certain I would feel this is the right decision, and the right time - for Apartment List and for me. I’ve never been more certain of our mission and our strategy - and in the team to deliver on both. We’ve accomplished a lot, and we’re just getting started. People have been kind to ask what’s next for me. As Chairman of the Board, I will continue to be Apartment List’s most dedicated advocate and believer. This will always be my top priority. As most of you can imagine, I am not very good at sitting still. I’m excited to spend overdue time with my family, and explore my passion for Web3, art and creativity.


From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU to every one of you who has played an important role in Apartment List’s story, and in my own as well. Although it is time to close out this chapter, I’m reinvigorated as I think about the next. I want to thank you for your belief in me - and commitment to building a new way of renting together. I cannot express enough my appreciation for your support in what we’ve built - and my confidence in our potential. Thank you for making this journey so special.

John Kobs

Founder & Chairman, Apartment List

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John Kobs
John Kobs is the Chairman and Founder of Apartment List, the fastest growing rental marketplace in the United States. John believes that everyone deserves a home they love, and has built Apartment List on a foundation of trust and transparency for renters and owners. Read More
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