Okay, so: job boards. Sexy. As. Hell. Amiright? The only thing sexier, in my ‘umble, is ATS.

Right? I mean, yeah. MMMM, ATS… supply chain technology: but applied to people. Yeah  baby!

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Anywho. Job boards. Lately, lotsa people have been snatching them up. Monster. SimplyHired. LinkedIn (and yes, LinkedIn: you are a job board/ resume database, just with a social angle). Now CareerBuilder’s on the verge. Heck, even Indeed is owned by somebody else at this point.

Here’s the funny bit: only one of the aforementioned companies sold at a premium  (CB may, but I’d bet my hat – if I had one – that it’s going to be a bit of a fire sale). LinkedIn sold for a ton more than the one I’m thinking of, but it was at 2/3 of the valuation they’d been at just twelve months prior.

Indeed. Indeed did it. They took a total of $5 million in funding, and turned it into a billion dollar exit. That’s… impressive.

Here’s the next bit: Indeed did that, without trying to become a CRM/ analytics/ ATS/ career site/ whatever-product-we-can-throw-at-the-wall company. “Oh, you say you want HCM?? We can try to do that! Wait, you want ATS, sure, we can screw that one up, too! Hey, maybe we’re into social now! Whadda think about that? PLEASE LOVE US AGAIN!”

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Indeed knew what they were: a job board. One that figured out that Google is actually the world’s real job board, and everyone else is just a node off of that simple little black and white box. Getting to the top of the list, and in front of us attention-starved humans

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is all that matters, in the end. So they got really, really good at SEO. And then they got the dolla dollas. As they should have.

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So…. what the hell? Sorry. I keep looking at that weird-ass, and yet alluring in way that I know you all understand (even if you’re loathe to admit it) squirrel.

Right: job boards.  They’re on fire right now. Only not in the good way….

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(I’d promise to stop with the gifs… but then I’d be a dirty, dirty liar)

Why is that, exactly? Well, to my mind, screwing up your core business is never good. It’s hard to recover when you ignore emerging competitive models, your industry, and then treat your customers like idiots that were only good for milking.

And that’s they play most all of them made. And then, instead of saying “Hey, our bad, we’re going to refocus on our core business, pricing, delivery, service, and fix them”, they said:

“Nah, fuck that. We’re just gonna make a bunch of poorly thought out acquisitions. Buy lots of product companies, many of which suck worse than we do at their core business (and we’ll admit that’s actually kind of impressive). Overpay for nearly of them. Heck, we might even just outsource one of the most important parts to a b-player technology, then put our name on it so we can take the body blows when it sucks wind. Oh, yeah, and then we’re going to not bother with integration, so people won’t even know that some of these products are ours. Heck, they can even have a booth completely separate from ours, at the major trade shows, to further confuse our buyers. And then, we’re going to make sure all these products don’t have a unified code base.

Because, why make it easy for our products to, you know, actually talk to each other?

There’s a word for what you get when you do that…. wait… it’ll come to me….

Ehh, never mind. I’ll figure it out eventually.

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Now, I’m not saying it’s foolish to buy them. Not at these prices. There are some good deals in there. Monster’s new PPC offering works really well – we’re seeing good success with it with our clients. CareerBuilder’s Talentstream Supply & Demand tool works well – that said, as a former client of it, getting people to use it was… challenging. And they hold a majority stake in Textkernel, which is interesting.

Love me some Textkernel.

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Ahem. Anyways. Occurs to me there’s a weird Dutch angle going on here. Randstad bought Monster. They’re Dutch. And they have an investment wing, that, well, invests in a bunch of cool companies. (If you’ve read this far, and put up with the gifs nonsense, I’m betting you’ve heard of a few of them). Textkernel is based in Amsterdam. (I love me some Amsterdam, too). The suitor for CareerBuilder is… yup: an investment firm.

Hmm.

Here’s how I see it playing out: CareerBuilder & Monster have some value. In parts of their business. They’ve got a bunch of junk, too. They’ve been acquired by people who are good at separating wheat and chaff (and, yeah: lots of chaff to sift through). Once they’ve figured out what’s the what, I don’t think we’re going to see either brand left standing. If I’m Randstad, I’m integrating the good bits into my other investment companies. Maybe scaling Monster down to a slim PPC resource. Getting rid of the excess. If I’m buying CareerBuilder, I’m getting my hands on Textkernel, combining it with workforce analytics, and using what good is left in their data set to build tools that power companies like Airbnb, PwC, Uber, the Washington Post (amongst many others) that are looking for ways to take advantage of workers in the gig economy. Because there’s gold there.

But… yeah. Cede the ground to Indeed. And stop trying to sell me an ATS… sexy as that may be.

Also this gif is completely gratuitous. Because you put up with reading this ramble.

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