Facebook is in the enviable position of being able to pretty much launch anything and get it in front of a billion human beings. And over the years, they’ve done a good job at throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.
Their most recent foray into search (a good move, in my opinion) is one such example. Others, such as deals, check-ins, chat, Poke and classifieds exist too.
I say the dabbling is over. It’s time for Facebook to get serious about jobs.
Here’s why: Facebook is losing its cool. Teens are leaving the site for cooler kids like Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. I recently presented to a group of students at Penn St. who told me Facebook is “moderately cool.” Other anecdotal evidence is even less optimistic.
It’s OK. It happens to the best of us. Fortunately, anti-cool is not a death sentence, but for a company that blossomed because of coolness, figuring out the next chapters are vital.
Most readers know Facebook acquired cool-kid Instagram last year. That good news and bad news. Good for its current popularity; bad because it too will one-day be uncool.
Facebook is putting itself in a position where it has to drop cash every so often to stay on the cutting edge. That’s a tough treadmill to run.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, is on the opposite end of the social media spectrum. Possibly cool to the buttoned-up, degree-carrying, cube-dwelling humans that walk the earth, but less so to hipsters.
Who cares? You need a job? Get your butt on LinkedIn or else it’s mom’s basement for you, buster.
In other words, LinkedIn is a utility. It’s Google, YouTube and Amazon (or at least on its way). It doesn’t care about being cool because it’s become the place for professional networking.
And that’s where Facebook needs to go. it can spin its wheels on one end of the hip meter snatching up the next Instagram, but it would be better served acquiring a major player in the employment space.
So, if Facebook isn’t seriously considering a play in the employment space that’s more than window dressing, it would do right by making a serious play for Monster. LinkedIn would be nice, but it’s probably too expensive.
Monster’s stock price and lack of acquisition interest make it ripe for bargain basement shopping. Additionally, Monster’s database is rich with employers who might have soured on Monster’s product over the year’s, but are just waiting to be reenergized around new ownership.
Lots of industry partnerships, brand awareness and roots in employment add icing to the cake. Most importantly, however, Monster potentially puts Facebook on par with LinkedIn, a network immune to the winds of cultural change.
Employment, as LinkedIn has shown, will never go out of style. Facebook needs to embrace this reality, grow-up and get boring.
Venture capital is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it means ammunition to take your idea or product to heights it wouldn’t otherwise go. And on the other hand, someone owns your ass.
Swimming with sharks can be as exciting as it is deadly. And the clock is ticking all the time. Enter Simply Hired. Launched in 2003, it was part of the vertical search engine phenomenon that was happening at the time. The more successful brother-in-arms has turned out to be Indeed.com.
Simply Hired was founded by Gautam Godhwani, who, according to the old company page,
… co-founded the India Community Center to help bring the SF bay area community closer together. Before that, he was CEO and co-founder of AtWeb, an Internet 1.0 company acquired by Netscape/AOL in 1998. AtWeb made a product called Web Site Garage that helped millions of small businesses “tune-up” their websites and register them with all the leading search engines (yes, once upon a time there was more than one). Before the dot-com era, Gautam worked for several small businesses including HP, IBM, and Microsoft.
Six years on and the clock has probably run out on Godhwani. The company announced a new CEO this week and has deleted its co-founder and now ex-CEO from its about page. His new title, according to a release, is Chairman.
Indeed selling to Recruit for an alleged $1.2 billion was probably the last straw for Godhwani, as investors likely saw that acquisition as a missed opportunity.
I often struggle with understanding how Indeed beat Simply Hired as the default job search engine for consumers and, more importantly, advertisers and employers. The answer, although complicated, might best be summed up by a former Indeed employee:
Differences in strategy and execution were the reasons Indeed won. Simply Hired wanted to pay for high profile partners like CNN. That sounds good but did not necessarily provide a good quantity or quality of traffic. Indeed focused everything on SEO and high-volume partners that were more under-the-radar. Simply Hired also struggled from a sales standpoint in that they were always the second option and copied many of Indeed’s features after they were already out there. They always seemed late to the game in terms or product, sales etc.
Well, now it’s someone else’s problem. The property still has a lot of traffic that can be monetized in new and possibly more effective ways. If it were me, I’d undercut everyone on cost-per-clicks and throw money at sites already leveraging Indeed’s content as backfill to switch in order to gain some market traction.
Not that anyone called me, of course, but there you go. They seem more focused on the opportunities around mobile right now, which isn’t a bad thing.
I really like Gautam. I wish him the best. He was probably pretty spent anyway. I’m sure he’ll land on his feet. His LinkedIn profile highlights Keepsy and Intuary as current board seats, which may be a glimpse into his future.
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Someone might be close to acquiring Monster - finally.
The who’s-going-to-buy-Monster rumors have come and gone over the years - LinkedIn being one of the most recent - but the buzz this time ‘round may be more than a ploy to pop the stock.
Sources have been pointing to Fall as the time it’s all supposed to go down. Only time will tell, but here are a few of the players in the mix, ranging from logical to not-a-chance-in-hell:
- Microsoft - Maybe. I think the company still owns a small position in CareerBuilder, so they are privy to the online employment landscape. As Microsoft struggles to hold onto their enterprise stronghold, adding job postings and Monster’s technology might be a move they’d make.
- News Corp - After things going so well with MySpace, what could possibly go wrong? With the newspaper biz fading into the sunset, buying a an online job board may seem reasonable for ol’ Murdoch. I think they also have a position in Simply Hired, which could make for an interesting combination.
- Salesforce - The cloud champion has been adding to its portfolio of companies like mad lately, so throwing in some employment IP could be in the playbook.
- Oracle - They hate Salesforce and their CEO is nutso.
- SAP - They bought SuccessFactors earlier this year, which begat adding Jobs2Web a few months later. Monster could be another piece to the puzzle.
- More Old Media - A longshot, but The New York Times or Washington Post could come out of left field.
- Portals - Aol’s stock has been on a tear lately, which may embolden it to make a move for a different kind of content play - jobs. Like old media, I see them less interested in the technology, but who knows? Yahoo!’s lack of success with HotJobs could be a deterrence.
- Wildcard - Thrown into the discussion have been China’s 51Job and Australia’s Seek. CareerBuilder seems like a longshot, but what the hell. LinkedIn? Fat chance.
Timing is always paramount to acquisitions, and each of the alleged prospective buyers are either grasping for innovation or hoping the replace one dinosaur for other ones. I still contend a sale is a long shot, but if it’s going to happen, it’s likely to be one of the above.
And hopefully soon. I hate long soap operas.