Google MD Jason Pellegrino appointed Domain CEO

Google’s local managing director is leaving the search giant to replace Antony Catalano as CEO of Domain.

Pellegrino starts at Domain on 27 August

Pellegrino will be paid $1.2m with an additional cash bonus of $500,000 should he stick around with the company until the end of the year.

In addition, based on short-term financial and personal performance metrics, Pellegrino will be eligible for a further bonus of 80% of his fixed salary.

His longer-term incentive plan includes an annual allocation of options over Domain shares equivalent in value to 120% of his fixed remuneration. The options will be allocated based on Pellegrino’s first year of employment and will be tested on 30 June, 2021.

Domain’s executive chairman Nick Falloon has been receiving $4,300 a day for carrying out the CEO duties, which was a daily rate based on Catalano’s fixed salary component of $1.2m.

Catalano left Fairfax’s real estate listings and content portal abruptly in January, with the company saying it would take its time to find a replacement.

Catalano subsequently faced allegations within Fairfax’s papers that the organisation he had led was riddled with workplace culture issues, including a general tone of disrespect towards women and cocaine use at staff parties.

Catalano was not directly implicated in the allegations, however The Australian Financial Review did suggest at one point he “might not meet the standard required of a chief executive”.

Despite it being well-known Catalano had almost unrivalled connections with real estate agents, Falloon stressed the company was not suffering from the CEO’s departure in a call with investors in February. 

Catalano then re-remerged in May, purchasing a stake in Tomorrow Agency/ Media Plus – a creative and media agency for property businesses which describes itself as “Domain’s largest client”.

Domain stressed at the time it was looking forward to its ongoing relationship with the agency.

Pellegrino will now replace Catalano after two years as Google’s managing director. He joined the search giant in 2008 and was promoted to managing director in 2016, replacing Maile Carnegie who left to join ANZ.

He will begin as CEO of Domain on 27 August.

Falloon said he was delighted with the appointment.

“Jason’s career as a digital executive with deep experience in sales, strategy, operations and product and technology speaks for itself. His leadership acumen and track record for inspiring and driving performance at Google will greatly assist him to take Domain, and its many talented people, into an exciting next stage of growth,” he said.

Pellegrino – who has a career spanning corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and finance at Dakota Capital Partners, LEK Consulting, PepsiCo International and KPMG – is similarly “delighted” about the new gig.

“I am delighted to be joining the incredibly talented team at Domain and I can’t wait to be part of the exciting growth journey ahead,” he said.

“I have spent close to a decade with Google and consider myself enormously lucky to have worked with fantastic colleagues, partners and customers, dealing with the rapid shift in technology, from desktop to smartphone and now the AI-powered world ahead.

“Throughout this time, I have always prided myself on supporting the growth of incredibly strong teams and establishing transparent and trusting relationships with partners and customers, something I am looking forward to continuing as I join Domain.”

Pellegrino’s employment terms stipulate the company must give him 12 months’ notice (or payment in lieu), and he can terminate with six months’ notice.

Google’s president of Asia Pacific Karim Temsamani said of Pellegrino’s departure: “I want to thank Jason for his tremendous contribution to Google over the past decade. Jason has not only been a great leader for our operations in Australia and New Zealand, he has also been a strong champion of the digital agenda and opportunity for the region. I have learned a lot from him and I am sad to lose him from our leadership team. I and the wider Google team will indeed miss him, both as a great colleague and leader.”


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