Wall Street: Inside Compass' cost-cutting woes

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Good morning! This is Kaja Whitehouse reporting to you from New York City, where real estate isn't just a profession — it's an obsession. But you don't have to be preoccupied with real estate, or located in the Big Apple, to known about Compass, the fast-rising real-estate brokerage that IPOed last year. 

The real-estate startup's woes will be the focus of today's newsletter. We will also discuss an organizational shift at Goldman Sachs, upcoming bank earnings, and a new book that takes a critical view of business consulting giant McKinsey. But first, let's explore what's plaguing Compass and its CEO, ex-Goldman Sachs exec Robert Reffkin.

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robert reffkin compass

1. When Compass IPOed in April 2021, it garnered a $7 billion valuation — the highest price ever for a residential real estate brokerage. According to Insider's Daniel Geiger, one reason was the company's proprietary software, which Compass execs, including CEO Robert Reffkin, have touted as a sort of crown jewel. 

But the company never turned a profit. And now, in the face of rising interest rates and a plunging stock price, Compass has taken to handing out pink slips that have gutted the very tech team once considered as a major driver of growth.

Compass laid off roughly 50% of the firm's 1,500-person tech team during its latest round of cuts in September. Now employees, according to Geiger, are questioning whether Compass has fallen victim to the startup dilemma. In other words, could the belt tightening intended to help the company get through a rough path stifle its future growth?

One thing is for sure, the company's dramatic decline in valuation, to $1 billion, has private equity buyers swirling overhead. Read more here.  

In other news:

An image of David Solomon at the DJ booth

2. It's no secret that Goldman Sachs' CEO David Solomon has been under pressure over his burgeoning consumer banking division Marcus. As Insider reported in August, tensions have been high as expenses and losses have mounted in that division. According to Bloomberg, Solomon has finally decided to take corrective action through smaller rollouts of products like checking accounts, as well as yet another reorganization.  

3. Ever wonder what it might be like to sell your fintech to a major bank? Robo advisor OpenInvest sold to JPMorgan in August of last year. Its cofounder spoke to Insider about what they've learned from the integration process.

4. Big banks kick off third-quarter earnings this Friday, including JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Morgan Stanely. Expect earnings to decline as volatility continues to put a damper on IPOs, mergers and acquisitions, and demand for new debt issuance.

5. Bosses, listen up: The two words young professionals loathe more than anything is not "let's talk," it's "pls fix." According to the Wall Street Journal, the phrase has spawned merchandise and made it into the Urban Dictionary as a surefire sign that you will not enjoy your weekend

6. If working for a consulting firm sounds like a dream job, consider reading "When McKinsey Comes to Town: The Hidden Influence of the World's Most Powerful Consulting Firm." The book challenges the notion that such firms are the best path to a do-gooder career for MBAs and other people looking to make it business.

7. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon is now predicting that the already beaten down stock market could fall another 20% as a recession hits the US economy in the next six to nine months.

8. The economy may be down, but rents are way up in New York City. And some young professionals are finding it increasingly hard to keep up.

9. Here's another Softbank-backed business that's facing trouble: Jack in the Box, Burger King, and Popeyes have ended their expansion plans with ghost-kitchen Reef.

10. Finally, if you're a banker without a lot of deals to keep you busy, you could save money with Amazon's second Prime Day event this month. The "early access" sale starts today.  

Keep updated with the latest business news throughout your day by checking out The Refresh from Insider, a dynamic audio news brief. Listen here.

Edited by Hallam Bullock (tweet @hallam_bullock) in London. 

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