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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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Status Report

(June 02, 2003) - As of this morning, an investor who bought shares of Yahoo five years ago has nearly tripled her money. An investor who held Monster (the old TMP) over the same time period experienced a doubling. Both stocks have nearly perfect records in outperforming the rest of the market.

It's a bit harder to track the effectiveness of CareerBuilder, hanging in the third slot. Level performance seems to be the key there. (Here's a traffic analysis that compares Monster and CareerBuilder)

We'll grant you that this is no heady, instant billionaire, way to make money. But, if sustained for another stretch, it looks like the core players in our industry are starting to solidify as long term holdings. While neither company has perfect positioning in the market, our two largest players seem to be differentiating in interesting ways.

Clearly, Monster is solidifying its control of the consumer's notion that there is a single place for career management online. The interesting thing about that market position is that it guarantees easy access to both the unemployed and to the types of folks who manage their careers. The positioning sort of guarantees a bifurcated product for their customers. It's very market approach is at the center of Monster's quality shortcomings. It's also a good reason to predict that the best talent available (cares about careers) will be found through Monster.

That's not to say that the other two don't have similar issues.

The HotJobs (Yahoo) position is best understood as a way to harvest Yahoo traffic. Yahoo account holders are relatively more sophisticated and regular internet users. They do not go to Yahoo primarily to manage their worklife. As it is with most people, work and career are adjacent interests for Yahoo users. That implies that the quality of the data from Yahoo is far more stable in the mid-range than the extremes of the Monster database.

CareerBuilder attracts a third slice of the quality pie....newspaper readers. Although they are a vanishing breed, newspaper readers are a relatively literate and informed group. If CareerBuilder can broaden its newspaper base, it will establish a vital link to the kinds of people who manage local establishments and the mid to low upper section of the sales force.

(Niche Jobs (and other similar ventures) round out the market with targeted reach to specific classes of working professionals.)

So, the consolidated industry seems to be entering a phase of matured and restrained growth. The question of the moment is whether or not someone will really address the quality problems. Since all of the players more or less redirect traffic to end customers, it's hard to imagine a universal solution at the job board end of the scale. (This is a solid opening for older school staffing firms.)

Each player offers access to an increasingly clear demographic slice. Each comes with a bag of somewhat different quality issues. There is a role for a strong player in the middle ground and we're waiting to see if anyone steps up.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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

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