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Jobster and WorkZoo
(July 19, 2005) Last week, Jobster purchased Workzoo. In our heavily blogged universe, these two buzz leaders obviously offered their own takes. A torrent of positive, often self-congratulating press followed the news. It seems that the merger simultaneously portends the future, signals the coming consolidation, defines the triumph of niche search, threatens newspapers and signals the death of Monster.

Jobster even went so far as to post a link to a Monster contract failure;. a true industry first in these buzz-rich days. Perhaps the best use of a blog is to try to taint the reputation of a much larger competitor. Blogs...the new slingshot for marketplace Davids.

We think the merger and Jobster's overall market behavior is far less than than positive. It reeks of a sort of arrogance that accompanies the buzz-level success Jobster has achieved to date. In other words, we think Jobster is busy believing its own press.

Job scraping companies like WorkZoo, indeed and Simplyhired are walking a tricky line as they maneuver their way towards business models that make money. (Scraping large databases of jobs and delivering them for free to users generates no income, just costs.) Their service quality depends on non-contractual receipt of huge quantities of data from the large players who, at this juncture, are happy to get the free additional distribution. Rest assured that the moment that these companies actually interfere with or poach a customer from the big boys, their access to the necessary data will be terminated.

Historically, job scraping companies like Flip Dog or CareerCast have evolved into alternate businesses. FlipDog fought valiantly to persuade customers to buy enhanced listings over a number of Monster-subsidized years. CareerCast has all but completely retired its initial job scraping business in favor of a billable "global" database.

Why the acquisition of a new Achilles heel is a good thing is hard for us to understand. Jobster has yet to prove itself on the merits. Antagonizing its large competitors is simply very bad timing. The only possible reason has to be that the core Jobster idea doesn't actually work.

Think about it, in all of the heavy breathing, have we heard one word about costs, cost effectiveness, or success stories? A service that revolutionizes hiring one job at a time should generate that sort of stuff with the first job, wouldn't you think? If networking for referrals was the promised land, why in the world would additional job content be required? Certainly, scraped job content is the exact opposite of what Jobster was peddling just a couple of months ago.

We might well agree with some commentators who suggest that the future includes the merger of networking and job content. We're equally sure that it doesn't look at all like this.

As for the promised "consolidation", we last bet on the one that would have reduced the players from 3,000 to 1,500. These days, with 40,000 vendors in the space, it seems likelier that there will be a consolidation of the people who think there will be a consolidation than an actual one.

Here's some of the marketplace commentary (thanks, jobster):

John Sumser

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