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Common's Brad Hargreaves Stepping Down As CEO As Company Plots Pathway To Profitability

Common founder and CEO Brad Hargreaves in 2021

The founder of Common, one of the largest co-living startups in the country, is stepping down from his role as CEO of the firm.

Brad Hargreaves, who founded the New York-based firm in 2015, is being replaced in the top job by Karlene Holloman, Common's executive vice president of property management and former CEO of Point Hospitality Group.

In an interview with Bisnow Wednesday, Hargreaves said he is assuming the role of chair and chief creative officer and will focus on the long-term capital structure of the business. He announced the news on Twitter Tuesday. 

“It's really about finding the right person to step up and take this role and take this challenge on,” Hargreaves said. “[Holloman] has done this before, and she's built organizations like this before … She's really done a tremendous job leveling up the quality of operations here at Common.” 

Holloman has also worked as the senior vice president of operations at Commune Hotels and Resorts. She joined Common a year ago.

Hargreaves said discussions about changing his role began a few months ago, but the decision was made at a board level in the last few weeks. He described it as his decision alone, and he said it had nothing to do with challenges in the proptech fundraising environment or as a result of requests from investors.

“Starting really at the beginning of this year, we made a decision that profitability was going to be the objective and the goal,” he said. "The venture market has really cooled on the proptech sector, which is why we're very focused on profitability, and being able to control our destiny as a standalone business ... Fortunately, we have the scale and we have the portfolio to be able to do that.”

Common raised $23M from existing investors at the end of the first quarter after flirting with going public via a special-purpose acquisition company, Hargreaves told Bisnow in June. It has raised a total of $113M before that and has among its partners Invesco, L+M Development Partners, Nuveen and Tishman Speyer.

The company's portfolio ballooned during the pandemic as it rolled up competitors that struggled to stay afloat. Other co-living companies, such as The Collective and Quarters, shut down as many renters avoided tight living conditions with strangers and people migrated away from the large urban centers where most co-living buildings operate.

When the pandemic began, Common had fewer than 2,000 units under management, a number that has since grown to 7,000. It has 18,000 in the pipeline, Hargreaves said. He plans to focus on working with clients and real estate partners to shape the long-term capital strategy of the business. 

“I'm excited about the new things I'm going to be working on,” Hargreaves said. “We have a housing crisis in the country, and if I can be valuable, helping people get projects to pencil through innovative design through creativity through my connections to capital, I'm excited.”