What’s in a deal?: recruitment marketing companies buy and sell

For the past couple of years, I’ve been keeping a list of job board and recruitment marketing industry ‘transactions’ – in other words, when companies have been bought, sold, or merged. (And in case you’re wondering, I’ve counted 5 since the beginning of 2018). I started doing this because I was curious as to how often these things happened, and what the financial impact was. I limited myself to those transactions that were publicly reported in some form or fashion. Like most of you, I know of other transactions that have occurred, but both parties declined to make them public – so those are omitted.

As you might guess, to a certain degree there is no rhyme or reason to the transactions. They occur because they make sense to the two parties involved – not because they are part of an ‘industry trend’. And yet…some do tend to underscore certain changes in the industry. To wit:

  • Monster dumps its APAC holdings: It’s a brand-new day for Monster now that it’s part of Randstad, and apparently owning APAC properties doesn’t fit in with the plan (whatever that might be). Monster is what the industry used to look like. Randstad only wants the ‘good stuff’ and is willing to ditch the rest.
  • DHI sells HealtheCareers: A no-longer-ascendant DHI is ‘refocusing’, or getting back to basics, or whatever. That means dumping everything non-tech. You could say this reflects an ‘old school’ job board trying to retrench. Or a publicly-held company trying to regain some street cred.

Then there are the transactions where companies doing well are simply ‘minding their knitting’ by expanding, augmenting, and improving their competitive positions. Such as:

  • Xing buying stuff: Xing, the Germany-based competitor to LinkedIn, was busy in 2017. It picked up Prescreen.io (a candidate management system) and InterNations, a network for expats. In other words, Xing is continuing to lock down their (important) part of the EU.
  • ZipRecruiter buys Jobboard.io: Why would a job distribution/job alert/ATS/etc. platform buy a job board software platform? Because…it filled a hole. Because it gave Zip’s customers one more reason not to go anywhere else.

Finally, there are the transactions that are actually tied to those ‘big trends’ you see in all of the HR and recruiting articles. Like:

  • iCIMS buys TextRecruit: An ATS buys a SMS recruiting tool. Makes sense, right? So why hadn’t anyone else done it? It’s not like TextRecruit and its competitors hadn’t been around a while. It’s not like SMS wasn’t a big deal for recruiting. And it’s not like ATSs didn’t have boatloads of money to throw at things. Guess only iCIMS actually reads the HR press.
  • Gig economy deals abound: In Australia, OneShift is acquired by Programmed; in the UK, Bright Network acquires WEXO. ADP acquires Workmarket. And so on. Where there are freelancer-related platforms and services, money and deals seem bound to follow.

What does it all mean? Don’t ask me! But I will say that the market continues to be robust, and those that are buying will probably find something to purchase, and vice versa. AI, programmatic, and blockchain are the flavors of the moment, so if you really want to garner some interest, may I suggest a name?: ProggyAIBlock.io. (Of course it had to be .io!!) You read it here first!

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