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Top 10 in 2006 (V9)

(December 28, 2006)
For the next segment in our year in review series, we tapped Don Ramer, another industry veteran who doesn't suffer from opinion deficit syndrome. Ramer, as most of you know is the CEO of Arbita, the job ad distribution company. One of the few real survivors from the dot com crash, Ramer has reshaped his company over the past five years. What was once a good idea is now a technical powerhouse. The firm takes its mission seriously (making sure that the right candidate sees your ad) and takes its values even more seriously.

Don has worked all aspects of the business. Here's his take on the past year:

  • Direct Employers
    The emergence of the Direct Employers Labor Exchange against the backdrop of the demise of America's Job Bank could very well turn out to be the sleeper story of 2006. It heralds corporations assuming responsibility for the markets that sustain their staffing needs. Always ahead of the curve and taking the long view into account, any initiative led by Bill Warren and his colleagues is worthy of attention and investment.

  • Rise of the Upstart-Startups

Indeed has a strong and experienced team with proven entrepreneurial expertise and the tenacity to achieve their goals. Indeed benefits significantly from its highly cooperative founders and a cadre of skilled technologists who really understand the way the market works. The Indeed team is flexible and adroit. Were we placing bets in this category our money would be on Paul Forster and Rony Kahan.

Enterprise customers adopt the brand because of grass-roots pressure from field recruiters, but find so little substance in the solution-set that they don't use the purchased products. Marketplace differentiation through polarization works fine if you run an error-free game and deliver superior candidate experiences and quantifiable recruiting results. Our industry really needs for Jobster to deliver on its promises. We all want Jobster to sustain its momentum with the wisdom and perseverance of an experienced long-distance runner. We hope that the Jobster team will reassess its counter-positioning against the job boards that form the backbone of the market. We are rooting for Jobster.

Simply Hired
With lots of cash, the blessings of News Corporation, and enormous potential for influence out of proportion to their numbers, the folks at Simply Hired are making many of the right moves and attracting people of real worth like industry veteran Jeff Hunter. This is certainly a company to watch in 2007.

  • The big three get bigger and smaller.
    Career Builder gets big slowly and buys the traffic it needs while waging a war of attrition. Using mountains of money to undermine the momentum of their adversaries, Career Builder proves that capital, cunning and a disciplined sales force can yield the results their newspaper industry owners still desperately hope to achieve, i.e., a meaningful position in the internet recruitment advertising market while print classified advertising revenues continue to decline. The folks at Career Builder focus on the basics, delivering applicants and jobs in local communities at all levels. The open question is whether or not they can they prevail over the "pure-play" and "blended model" regional job-boards like Craig's List, Recruiters Network and Regional Help Wanted in the long run.

HotJobs flounders as Yahoo's stepchild. The previously astonishing company has suffered so many missteps post merger that one wonders if Yahoo's senior executives have ever really understood the value of what they hold in their hands.  The company could compete more effectively with a reallocation of resources and a revised strategy that fully embraces web 2.0 for recruiting. They have a superior team at the operating level. They are hungry for vision and commitment. Given those things they could lead the industry.

Monster stumbles for the best and worst of reasons in a merciless regulatory climate. With an eye on profitability and rewards for the people who made his empire possible, Monster's founder stepped out of the executive suite late this year. While the arrogance of Monster's posture in the market was decried by some, we would have had no electronic recruiting industry without the Monster. Billions of dollars have been made by investors who gleefully rode the Monster's back all the way to the bank. That their founder has enjoyed a reputation for integrity up until the end of his astonishing career is inarguable among veterans in our space. That his recent downfall and current travails emanate from loyalty to his team could easily be read as an expression of complex human virtues rather than corporate malfeasance. The company's choice to focus on fiduciary responsibility to shareholders rather than buying traffic and maintaining headcount at any price is a testament to Mr. McKelvey's legacy. Profits and people both, not one or the other. We wish him well, and all of us who earn our livelihood in the industry he helped create should think fondly of him in this difficult time.

  • Kenexa Feasts while Taleo Heads South
    The relocation of Taleo's headquarters to Silicon Valley is emblematic of a sea change in the company's culture from a Canada first, last and always environment to one with a more cosmopolitan aura. The cost of relocating to California may look like a small price to pay in order to wrest control of a public enterprise from its remaining founders.

    Kenexa has proven that you don't need to be based in Silicon Valley in order to achieve technical excellence. Kenexa continues to reap the benefits of public company patience, discipline and capitalization.  The perseverance and tenacity of the Kenexa team is one of the great untold stories in our industry.  That the post IPO environment would enable Kenexa to feast on a banquet of good companies with great combined potential, like BrassRing and PSL was unforeseen by many observers. The company appears destined to deliver global leadership where pretenders with less substance have failed.

  • The British are Coming!
    David Hurst and OnRec "made a go of it" in the US and impressed marketplace observers by delivering an event in Chicago that gave real value to corporate participants and vendors alike. As first-timers in the US market they managed to recruit a battalion of gifted speakers with nuanced views who still have people talking. We're looking forward to next year's event in San Francisco. 

  • The Yanks are Coming!
    David Manaster and ERE, with tactical and logistical support from the deep and broad network provided by Keith Robinson and Alan Whitford, delivered a very successful and informative conference in Amsterdam. The content of the conference was well worth the price with an outstanding presentation by Kevin Wheeler on the Asia-Pacific marketplace and an impassioned PowerPoint on the failures of current technologies and processes delivered by Marc Drees.

Kevin Wheeler's conference in Australia will certainly be important for those who appreciate the challenges and opportunities posed by the staggering economic developments unfolding in the region. The move from contributor to impresario by one of our industry's most sagacious consultants will certainly be something to behold. We plan on participating and hope to see you there.

  • The Elephants are Coming!
    ADP Acquires Virtual Edge and becomes a force to be reckoned with in the small to mid-size company applicant tracking marketplace overnight.
    SAP gets serious about everything. Expect great things in the years ahead as industry veteran Mark Lange leads Human Capital Solutions Marketing.
    Lawson goes global through a merger with Intentia and trusts its destiny in Human Capital to our favorite visionary and market development executive, Larry Dunivan.

  • Return of the Jedi
    Hank Stringer brings us the next great thing with ITZBIG! If you have ever wished that fundamental sincerity and graciousness were part of the landscape of our industry, take heart. Your wish is about to come true. Hank is at the helm of a start-up focused on delivering outstanding candidate experiences while providing measurable results to recruiters. A group of very fortunate venture capitalists has invested in Hank's vision and we're confident that they won't be disappointed.

  • International Association of Employment Websites
    Peter Weddle convened the first congress of the International Association of Employment Websites on September 11th in Chicago. With membership exceeding 800 websites around the world, the association has real potential to breathe new life into the job-board industry by providing a forum for the exchange of information and the development of standards. The association is creating a culture of accountability for the industry through measurement standards and is advancing ethical practice by developing guidelines and a code of conduct.  We urge all participants in Internet Recruitment Media to join in this important initiative.

  • Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association
    With luminaries like, Mike Mayeux, and John Younger, among its guiding lights, the RPOA has the potential to shape this burgeoning category for its constituents' benefit.  The marketplace will be better for this cooperative effort. It signals an end to business as usual in the staffing industry. Arbita plans to join as an affiliate member in January 2007. We think you should too.

The series so far:

2006 in Review

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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