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Everyone is selling (or buying)! Should I?

everyone is sellingNote: This post first appeared back in 2019 – that’s right, in the pre-COVID world. Yet it has plenty of relevance now, as the pace of M&A in the job board industry continues to pick up. Enjoy!

Conventional wisdom would have us believe that job boards and related services – now moving into their third decade of existence – are on the way out. They’ve been overwhelmed and pushed aside by technologies such as programmatic and AI. I say ‘would have us believe’ because in fact, we have heard this before – remember when social media was going to destroy the industry? Or how about when aggregators were going to make job boards irrelevant? Instead, we’ve seen the largest ‘social media’ network – LinkedIn – morph more and more into a job board; the same happened to the once-largest aggregator, Indeed. It’s enough to make a person skeptical.

Instead, I would argue that we’ve seen job boards absorb new technologies and techniques, turning them into part of their roster of candidate and employer services. Many sites offer employers options for programmatic ad distribution, social media retargeting, and pay for performance. In a way, it’s an old story – businesses that fail to change and evolve disappear; those that embrace change tend to thrive. Only 60 companies that were on the Fortune 500 in 1955 were still on it in 2017 – a result of what economists call ‘creative destruction’. So it is in our industry: Dice soldiers on, a far cry from its origin as a BBS in 1990, generating millions of dollars every quarter; the same with Monster and CareerBuilder. So too with smaller niche sites founded in the 90s and 00s such as LatPro, College Recruiter, Authentic Jobs, HigherEdJobs, JobMonkey, and many others. These sites have survived by evolving with the market.

I keep track of acquisitions and related transactions tied to job boards, and over the past 12 months in 2019, we’ve had 32 events, ranging from Indeed’s purchase of Glassdoor to Xing’s acquisition of Honeypot. That number is probably low – I can only track what is announced, and some purchases happen under the radar. What does this mean for you?

Well…if you’re thinking about growth, now may be a good time to pick up some additional properties. Maybe you want to expand inside your niche, or maybe you want to add a specific type of technology or service to your offering – in either situation, there are probably companies will to sell. And if you’re considering exiting your business, the same applies – during a time of record employment, organizations are focused on using whatever tools that are effective in their search for talent. If your site or service has a successful track record, there is probably a buyer out there.

The job board industry has persisted because it addresses a fundamental challenge in the marketplace: how to connect employers with candidates. Its approach to recruiting is hardly the only one – most intelligent employers use multiple methods to find their candidates. But for decades the industry has delivered results for employers – and I suspect that long after the Doctor has shuffled off into a post-employment world, job boards (or their descendants) will be on the scene. And yes – it will still be a good time to buy and sell!

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