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Theory One
(August 09, 2005) So, maybe the Yahoo decision to include scraped content is a really, really big moment. The New York Times, as we write, has purchased a stake in indeed.com. This follows last week's news of a $3M investment in SimplyHired.

Our friends in the talent-consuming genius factories of Silicon Valley tell us that job boards do not provide adequate value. We argue with them, believing that the "strip mining of idealism" is a uniquely Northern Californian sport and that their needs supersede the national labor markets. Job boards, we think, provide just the right value for certain industries and occupations in certain geographies.

Our friends operate well muscled recruiting establishments with branding and reputational weight out the kazoo. (They circulated the "We Hate HR Article to their clients.) They are very early adopters and can, in some cases, portend the arrival of new things. Their dissatisfaction with the job boards is a tip, the question is, how big is the iceberg.

If they are right, the value of a job posting is zero and the market is just figuring it out. If they are partly right, the value of a job posting varies by job, location, posting forum and some hard to define measurement of results. If they are wrong, the status quo is preserved.

If they are right, by the way, the inherent value of a job posting as intellectual property is also zero and there is no reason to protect it. The only value a job posting has, in this scenario, is a function of the clicks it produces.

According to Fred Wilson, partner with Union Square Ventures (source of the fund for the investment in indeed),

For one, we are big believers in the fragmentation of the Internet. We don't believe that there are going to be several large "destinations" where employers will go to list their jobs in the coming years.

We are a believer in what some of us are calling "sell side advertising". That's the idea that advertisers will put their ads on the Internet for anyone to find and display. And if the advertiser gets clicks back, they will pay for the clicks.

Job search is one of the first places that sell-side advertising is going to happen because most employers already put the jobs they are currently looking to fill on their web sites. Those jobs are the "sell side" ads. Indeed and others are crawling the Internet, grabbing those "ads" and displaying them.

What is really striking about the indeed deal is that the New York Times folks have access to similar content and technical capabilities from their current job board provider, CareerCast. Even more interesting, the NYT has always stayed away from the CareerCast "National network" on the grounds of brand dilution. If Fred Wilson's pitch is right, it's quite a change of mind. Given that, we'll discount Fred's notion because it requires a Monster sized sales force to bear fruit.

From the Yahoo perspective, it could be very simple. If the acquisition of one new active member is worth $X and active members join at the rate of Y per job posting, then collecting lots of job postings and distributing them for free is a winner.

It could also be that Google style advertising will adorn the pages, placed by HR professionals throughout the land.

Please let us know what you think about Vertical job search.

John Sumser

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