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    5 Clock Tower Place

    (February 13, 2002) - For years, Jeff Taylor had been telling us that we needed to visit the headquarters of Monster. We imagined a homey environment in a small town; one of those little community renovations of the old town hall taken over by a small group with local ties. Maynard, Massachusetts, we thought, was one of those teensy little spots where the two lane highway widens for the gas station, convenience store, fire station, police department and the clock tower. 

    We've seen the insides of lots of job boards. The big ones have a couple hundred people working in a telemarketing environment with a small quiet space for the ten or twelve tech people. The owners are entrepreneurs who have their fingerprints on every transaction and each product improvement.

    In other words, we were completely unprepared for the experience of Monster's headquarters operations.

    5 Clock Tower Place is a massive old textile mill that straddles a pond in the countryside just beyond Boston. Occupying five football sized floors of the old DEC offices, the $600 Million Monster operation is a sea of activities ranging from a creative studio (with musicians, artists and poets) to a massive wholly contained server facility. The Customer Relationship Management system (which gives 1,000 people desktop access to the files for at least 75,000 customers) occupies a room the size of many entire job board operations (and that's just for the hardware).

    A brisk walking tour of most of the facility took nearly an hour and met our exercise requirements for the day. The place is huge, well organized and hums like a machine. Somehow, we never audited our image of the place against the revenue numbers. At $600 Million (for TMP Interactive), the operation is literally inventing the way that a big company operates in our industry. In the capable hands of Steve Pogorzelski (Monster's new President) the company is being systematized and focused as it prepares to continue its growth pace. We couldn't get over the sheer scale of the place.

    One of the football field sized floors housed the sales department. Hundreds of sales people armed with headphones, the latest scripts and access to the CRM system pounded the leads generated by the leads department, serviced existing customers or introduced new offerings. On the ceilings, forty-five feet overhead, small white noise generators were placed in a grid that was about 15 feet across. Each white noise generator was tuned to the area below it. As a result, the massive sales operation was as quiet as a library. Walking down the aisles, specific conversations drifted out of specific cubicles until we hit the noise dampening effects of the ceiling grid. It was eerie. 

    The technical operations are in an adjacent building that is reached through a connecting bridgeway between the fifth floors of the two buildings. Beneath the bridgeway, the frozen pond looked ready for a couple of Norman Rockwell inspired ice skaters to zoom by. The idyllic view was a powerful counterpoint to the incredible sales and technical machine contained in the buildings themselves.

    Monster is operating at a scale that dwarfs any other operation. It is in a different business than most of its competition with issues and opportunities associated with a business that is probably going to be the first Billion dollar player in our universe. Their models of risk and investment are significantly different from anything we've seen to date. Their aspirations are even larger.

    We giggled with Jeff for a couple of hours about the newspapers' complete inability to imagine a business of this scope and magnitude. Built organically, this is the sort of operation that can not be grown with a pure acquisition strategy. If we were in the newspapers, we'd try to get someone at Monster to give us a tour. Jeff consistently makes the offer and gets no takers. We're sure that newspaper owners would have an experience similar to ours. After the awe dissipates, the realization that we're in a new universe begins to sink in. Then, the real possibilities start to reveal themselves.

    - John Sumser

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