A few days ago, the building database Emporis, a community-compiled Web site that was the source of much of the information about prominent buildings cited by journalists and researchers, disappeared. In its place was a note from a managing director at CoStar Group, the company that bought Emporis two years ago:

Dear Emporis Community Members,

I am writing to let you know that we have made the decision to retire the Emporis community platform. This change will take effect on Tuesday 13th September 2022. Following the retirement you will no longer be able to access Emporis.

It is worth pointing out that this note was posted on September 14.

The note continues:

This decision was not made lightly. For more than twenty years, Emporis (and its predecessor site) has served as a platform for community members to share data, information and of course, great imagery of some of the tallest buildings and skyscrapers across the globe. I would like to thank you for your contributions over the years.

CoStar Group acquired Emporis in November 2020, recognising the truly global nature of the data in Emporis, and since the acquisition we have integrated much of that data into the global CoStar information platform for the benefit of our client base of brokers, owners, and lenders.

This is delightful news for Emporis contributors. Although they will no longer be able to access their own work, they have the satisfaction of being informed that their research and photographs, which they provided free of charge, will now be sold to brokers, owners, and lenders at whatever price CoStar Group sets on them. We recognized the value of your contributions, says the managing director. They are so valuable that we can sell them, and we can do it without paying you a dime for them. We will even sell them back to you if you pay us enough.

To think like a business-school graduate, you must be able to imagine the warm glow of satisfaction Emporis contributors feel on reading this announcement. You must be able to picture them smiling as they consider that the countless hours of work they devoted to compiling that database—for many of them it was a consuming hobby—will now enrich you, the managing director, personally. You must feel the warmth that pervades their hearts as they think of you sitting there, being rich, thanks to the contributions they made as part of a community effort that lasted for twenty years.

Then you can go stick your head in a bucket of cold water.

And now the punch line:

This is currently the first thing you see if you visit the Web site of the CoStar Group:


  1. RepubAnon says:

    The report likely repeats the following phrase for several hundred pages:

    “Making money to fund bonuses for our executives and boosting our stock price is our only responsibility”

  2. Jane says:

    Yours is the second Corporate Social Responsibility Report. FWIW.

  3. Dan says:

    This showed up in my feed the same morning I heard the news that Johnson & Johnson had offloaded their civic liability for asbestos poisoning to a shell company with no assets, designed to be bankrupt from the day it was chartered. In order to stiff people dying of cancer.

    I thought it a remarkable coincidence, surrounded as we are by the normal, everyday benevolence of private enterprise. That such marked anomalies should appear on the same day…

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