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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


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The Split
October 30, 2002) - On the day that TMPW announced its intention to split into two companies, we were sitting in a room full of 60 enterprise level Recruiting customers who were sharing their experiences with each other. We've been traveling extensively and visiting user groups of enterprise customers in a number of places around the industry. We listened closely and were astonished by the degree to which customers appear to have grown beyond the abilities of their suppliers. 

At its root, the enterprise business is all about collaboration with customers rather than the development of solutions in advance. Enterprise accounts like to learn alongside their suppliers. They want to own the solution.

At some level, each customer addressed their relationship with Monster. For the most part, this involved a discussion of the degree to which they had reduced their dependence on the TMP subsidiary. What surprised us was the degree to which the audience always responded with cheers and applause to this particular dynamic. The anti-Monster sentiment was strong so we decided to explore beneath the surface in a series of side conversations.

"You were really excited about reducing your Monster bill by 43% this year, why is that?", we asked one HR Leader. "They treat us badly and always raise prices," came the reply. "Isn't Monster the reason that you saved 80% of your budget last year?", we asked. "Oh, I'd forgotten about that."

Another fellow was busily recruiting customers for Direct Employers. "If you're tired of being treated like children, you should join as a charter member. That way, you can put the nail directly in Monster's heart."

We confronted him in front of his peers. "Monster is the reason that prices for data have fallen by 90%, why would you want to kill them? If they don't pay the freight for industry advertising, who will? Even if you don't subscribe to Monster, you need them to succeed." "Oh, I hadn't thought about it that way."

Over and over again, we discovered that the problems these customers had with Monster had more to do with the quality of the relationship than the quantity of the results or the price. The problem is broadly expressed around the industry. Somehow, while mid-level customers are extremely happy with the service, there is a gap in the perceptions of the enterprise end. (Surprisingly, the solutions, simple as they are, can be found in Monster's inventory of career literature.)

As you might imagine, we've been watching Monster closely this year. With a clearly dominant position in the marketplace, the operation is the butt of every "King of the Hill" game played by every competitor, regardless of size. The truth, however, is that they are in a position to maintain their dominance as long as they delight their customers.

That's the rub.

Web based success (just ask the search engines that were put aside by Google) depends on the delivery of delight. Dominant nodes in the network attract new users who are surprised and thrilled by the quality of service that they receive. Growth spreads like a contagious disease with people lining up to catch it.

Monster is not headed in this direction. A year of attention to the quarterly results has come at the expense of maturity as a partner. 

We hope that the split will allow Monster the ability to create a reputation as a delightful supplier. It's equally likely that the maneuver will position TMPW as an acquisition target for the newspaper industry. We're leaning towards the latter.

-John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
Mill Valley, CA 94941

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