Gianpaolo Santorsola (Lecce, 1979) observa the economic situation that lives Spain from a window with privileged views. In just one click you can see practically live the evolution of the labor, real estate and commercial markets. This Italian economist based in Barcelona is the maximum responsible for Infojobs –One of the largest job search platforms– of Fotocasa Y Habitaclia, specialized in buying and renting housing online, from Vibbo Y Milanuncios, dedicated to the sale of second-hand items online, and Cars Y Motos.net, specialized first and second hand vehicles. A market thermometer is at your fingertips.
Santorsola is the CEO of Adevinta in Spain and Brazil. The group manages marketplaces of the classified sector in these and also other countries, such as France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Austria, Ireland or Mexico. The parent company is in Norway, where the roots of the business lie, founded 180 years ago by a media outlet that diversified into the world of classifieds. The company has been listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange since last year, when it also changed its name from Schibsted to Adevinta. The owners made a major change in strategy: they separated into independent companies the Nordic businesses (which maintain the Schibsted name) from the international businesses, which now operate under the Adevinta umbrella. In this change, the company decided to locate Adevinta’s operational headquarters worldwide in the Catalan capital. “They chose Barcelona because Spain is the main market for the entire group, even ahead of Norway, and because local platforms such as Infojobs or Habitaclia had been acquired in the city,” he says. Santorosola leads a team of 1,400 people (30% of the total) from large offices in the 22 @ district, now empty due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trained at Bocconi, he has led the growth of the team from 3 to 1,400 people and the transition from PC to mobile
The size of the company has nothing to do with that of Santorsola’s entry year, which he signed as head of operations in 2011. “We were barely three people!” He recalls. Santorsola had been working for eight years as a consultant for Mckinsey in the city of Milan. This was practically his first job after graduating from Bocconi University, which he entered thanks to a scholarship. Santorsola came from a modest family in southern Italy, his father worked in a bank and his mother was a homemaker. Upon graduating from Milan, he briefly went through investment banking, his true teenage dream, forged in the banker movies of the 1980s. But when he came into direct contact with the sector, he realized that he was too disconnected from reality. He left it after a week and went into McKinsey. His stage there, -during which he obtained a master’s degree at Insead- ended when a former director of the consultancy proposed him to join Adevinta. “I decided to change course also for personal reasons. I spent too much time traveling and wanted to start a family with my wife, a Spanish woman I met at a nightclub in Milan. ” So they decided to pack their bags and settle in Barcelona. “It is a luxury to work with Nordic culture in a city with this quality of life.”
Since then, Santorsola has seen the business grow and has led the transition from computer to mobile platforms. The firm has grown through acquisitions, both in Spain and globally. This summer, he bought the eBay classifieds business. The group will double in size with just this operation. (In Spain, the impact is not going to be noticed because this Ebay business does not exist). Santorsola now faces the challenge of overcoming the crisis of the pandemic. The activity was paralyzed in the beginning and is now recovering. However, it is still 7% lower than last year, when the group had a turnover in Spain of 182 million (with a gross margin of 60.5 million). “There is no work, and therefore Infojobs is paralyzed … it shows.” However, the manager is convinced that he has the wind in his favor. The pandemic has accelerated digitization and your business is 100% online. Adevinta’s share price has risen 33% in one year.
He will continue with the recipe that has always worked for him, that of constantly looking for improvements in service. It’s an attitude he inherited from his grandfather, the handyman from the small town where he was born. Often impatient, he calms his nerves with a peculiar hobby, fly fishing, which he practices with his father-in-law in Pallars. He has fun playing paddle tennis and cooking pizzas with his friends, and he takes advantage of the months of confinement by spending more time with his wife and two children. It is the only positive aspect that you see in confinement. He wants to go back to the office, to recover the spontaneity of the chats in the corridors, to be close to his team, in short.