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Homestore board member resigns

The departure of Barbara Alexander marks the latest leadership change at the online real-estate company.

One of Homestore's board members resigned Wednesday, marking the latest leadership change at the online real-estate company.

The board member, Barbara Alexander had served on Homestore's board since April of last year. The company did not say why she resigned or give the effective date of the resignation.

Alexander served on the company's audit committee since she became a board member. During her tenure on the committee, Homestore acknowledged that it had misstated its revenue for 2000 and for the first nine months of 2001.

Alexander's departure is unrelated to the accounting problems, said company spokeswoman DeLise Keim.

"She left to focus on other activities," Keim said. She did not know what Alexander would be focusing on.

Homestore was one of the high-fliers among e-commerce companies, but accounting issues sent the company into a tailspin. Since the beginning of the year, the company has replaced its executive team, cut 300 jobs, seen its stock price plummet and been the subject of several shareholder suits.

The company's accounting problem also led to an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Last month, Homestore's former chief operating and chief financial officers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud in an investigation related to the misstatements.

Homestore's board and executive team have undergone a makeover since late last year. Last December, CFO Joseph Shew resigned, just weeks before the company acknowledged the accounting errors for which he was later convicted.

In January, the company ousted co-founder Stuart Wolff from his roles as chief executive officer and chairman, and it forced out seven other employees in its finance and business development departments. In March, Richard Smith, president of Cendant's real estate division, resigned from Homestore's board.

Despite the turmoil during Alexander's tenure, the company praised her conduct during the accounting scandal. Alexander helped the company implement new audit controls and introduce a new whistle-blower program, Homestore said. Alexander also helped with the company's internal investigation into the accounting errors, the company said.

"Barbara has played a critical role on our board," said Joe Hanauer, Homestore's chairman, in a statement Wednesday. "Barbara's efforts were major contributors to the U.S. Attorney General and the (Securities and Exchange Commission) commending (Homestore) for the way in which the internal investigation was conducted."

The company said in the statement that it has hired executive placement firm Spencer Stuart to search for additional directors for its board.

Homestore has not yet filled Smith's position on its board. The company does plan to replace Alexander, Keim said.