Monster is like that friend from high school you are still friends with on Facebook but not really in real life. You have nostalgia for the way things used to be with them. You want better for them than they seem to want for themselves.
In 1999, Monster.com launched onto the scene with a superbowl commercial called “When I grow up” – I was early in my college career, working as a campus liaison to campus recruiters and daydreaming about how I could get paid to teach companies the potential of using the internet and eventually software to not only post and advertise jobs…but eventually allow people to apply for jobs, be notified of openings and manage their schedules, time off, etc. I was a huge nerd at 18 and the second I saw that commercial I knew my “crazy” idea according to the Director of Career Services wasn’t all that far off. My career path was set.
By 2002, I became “Online Recruiting Certified” via a series of Monster.com workshops and was running online recruiting for a fast growing company posting nearly 1500 jobs a week and receiving close to 25,000 applications a week. I was smitten with the commitment to education and technology they had.
By 2008, Monster had gone fully mobile before the market required, acquired a new CEO as well as what was one of the most innovative ATS systems on the market, Trovix for nearly $73 million. I loved that ATS. I was a speaker on the Recruiting conference circuit and Monster was at every one of them, throwing the best parties and schmoozing the right people. Some of my best memories (and meals) from events in the late 00’s was with the Monster team. They were poised to position themselves away from “job board” and into “Talent Acquisition Player.”
By 2011, the stock had tanked. It was rated the “worst performing stock of the year” They had
wasted spent $225 million acquiring a HotJobs from Yahoo. And had proved they didn’t know how to manage the $73m Trovix buy – tearing it apart and using it in pieces they didn’t really understand how to go to market with – renaming it and relaunching it over and over. We (the bloggers, analysts, speakers, etc) were still very positive and sure it could be turned around.
Yes, Eight years later I’m still salty about the Trovix acquisition – the semantic search, analytics and early CRM style approach was unmatched at the time. The removal of Trovix from the market place slowed the evolution of Applicant tracking systems as a whole because it again became ok to remain average.
In 2012, I had a hard talk with some sr. product people during a briefing – raising a red flag on what they were missing in market and their go to market approach. I have never got another briefing. I was really hoping they would figure it out on their own. I wanted them to understand their potential in the new marketplace.
By 2014, they had stopped owning every event they went too and been scammed into a new logo and branding. As if people had stopped using monster because the purple was the wrong shade. Few companies have sales problems because of their logos, its typically a pride issue of taking a hard look at product and go to market strategy overall. Their CEO left in November of that year after seeing a stock decline of 90% during his tenure – from 5.5 billion to 400 million of value.
Personally, I owe Monster so much credit for my career. As a student they validated where I thought market was going when my professors told me I was crazy. As a practitioner, they offered training years ahead of anyone else that catapulted my career Outliers style. As a mentoree, they employed some of the smartest and kindest people I know – Eric Winegardner, Lisa Watson & Matt Charney to name a few – that challenged me, opened doors for me, coached me and made me a better person, analyst and consultant.
This was the deal they have been shopping around for. Its been well known they were seeking a buyer for a number of years. While they will remain independent, we have all seen enough M&A activity in this space to know that mean “until we figure out how to integrate fully into one company”. The Randstad company has strong global reach and a focus on employment agency and placement type solutions. Typically filling the needs of hourly, temporary and some lower level management positions – the sweetspot Monster has continued to fill as Linkedin became the main job board (yes, its a job board) for more senior level and professional positions and Indeed became the all around job board people went to.
This works hand in hand with their focus of improving the ease to connect candidates with their clients open jobs. In the US we know them as a temp agency. Based in the Netherlands, globally they are the #2 player in the world behind Adecco and serve a wide market including temp agency, long term professional contractors, outsourcing, hr consulting, outplacement and even run a pretty amazing innovation fund. The technology behind monster (not the job board part) could prove a game changer for the various divisions of Randstad if harnessed strategically with its existing mission and managed correctly. The access of data – both candidate resume and Monster client and prospect details – is also valuable for a company that could be replicating its positions in EMEA into the US marketplace.
For Indeed: The Unspoken Winner
They are already the world’s #1 jobsite accessing 60 countries. Pretty quietly compared to how others have burst onto market; they have become THE player in what was a crowded market. Their parent company has bought other small players in job board market out and with this acquisition, at least in the US – one of the top competitors will likely be gone, or evolved, within 18 months. Careerbuilder is still there – but again, not
targeting reaching the same level of job seekers. Linkedin also a non issue in this space, they couldn’t ever figure out effective algorithms and now they are part of Microsoft I’m sure job board isn’t what they are focusing on. The biggest competition they will likely face is Glassdoor – but I am confident this market will continue to require two competitors. HR buyers tends to get nervous without the competitive landscape – its why startups that are really innovative struggle. I am also pretty confident that we will see indeed competing and dominating a number of other areas of recruiting tech soon…
The decline of Monster, much of it as we watched the rest of the market take off, was hard to watch. They could have been better. They should have done better. They had amazing technology and some amazing people. From the outside, it was a great lesson on the impact of poor leadership. Much like when Recruitmax/Vurv went away…then again Taleo…the acquisition of Monster is the ending of an era in recruiting technology and a sign the next evolution we keep talking about is finally closer.
Thanks for the fun memories, Monster.