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St. Craig and Brother Buckmaster



(December 18, 2006) One of the most important "events" of 2006 was the continuing turmoil in the classified advertising  space. While the blogging community seemed focused on perceived ineffectiveness (we'd swear that these same voices were screaming about candidate overload just last week), the Earth was moving in more business-y circles. It's the difference between micro and macro economics.

Recruiters are generally tactical players who ride the waves of the economy. When the economy is hot, sourcing is hard. The interesting thing about job boards is the way that they reflect the ebbs and flows of the economy. They mirror the recruiter's predicament rather than complementing it. You'll notice that we're not seeing pointers to usable, less expensive alternatives

Of course, you can see the argument. Wouldn't it be better if job boards were something else? Now that we have vanilla ice cream, it's very easy to imagine a root beer float. Why don't those ice cream guys make floats?

Because they are ice cream guys.

Meanwhile, the big money is following the other parts of the market.

When we asked friend Jeff Hunter for his Top 10 in 2006, he responded with two:

  • Pay it Forward: Monetizing Social Networking Starts to get Tough
    Social networking tools are increasingly being used to help recruiters increase their recruiting productivity. But the success of these tools is all based on one thing: good will. What happens when people get tired of helping other people make money?

  • CRM Fantasy Becomes Reality
    Companies like EA, Microsoft, Deloitte, Morgan Stanley and CNET are all using real CRM systems to run all or part of their recruiting function. For companies where getting the right person in the right job at the right time is critical, CRM is really the only solution.

Hunter and his colleagues in the big talent hungry service firms are way, way beyond job board thinking. They can't use commercially available HR systems. Their work depends on automation from outlier vendors like Salesforce. They gobble technology during the early days of its highest effectiveness. (All technologies rapidly cease to deliver a competitive edge in direct relation to their adoption rate.) These players occupy a world that demands every shred of possible market advantage in their recruiting.

It's different in the rest of the world. Most recruiters are content to ply their trade by placing ads, searching databases and working the internal political structure. This is the market where hundreds of billions are spent to fill repetitive jobs, place ads and generally move the world forward the way it has always moved.

In that world, things are really churning.

And, to top it all off, Craig and his sidekick are taunting the old guard with non sequiturs:

Jim Buckmaster, the chief executive of Craigslist, caused lots of head-scratching Thursday as he tried to explain to a bunch of Wall Street types why his company is not interested in "monetizing" his ridiculously popular Web operation. Appearing at the UBS global media conference in New York, Mr. Buckmaster took questions from the bemused audience, which apparently could not get its collective mind around the notion that Craigslist exists to help Web users find jobs, cars, apartments and dates and not so much to make money.

Wendy Davis of MediaPost describes the presentation as a "a culture clash of near-epic proportions." She recounts how UBS analyst Ben Schachter wanted to know how Craigslist plans to maximize revenue. It doesn't, Mr. Buckmaster replied (perhaps wondering how Mr. Schachter could possibly not already know this). "That definitely is not part of the equation," he said, according to MediaPost. "It's not part of the goal." (Deal Maker)

More than anything else, this year proved that our market is large enough to entertain a huge number of mutually contradictory ideas. What is gospel truth in one segment is a recipe for disaster in an adjacent segment. The market is definitely not monolithic anymore.

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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