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Acquisitions up in 2021 – why?

By my very rough count (i.e., take it with a grain of salt!), there have been 17 acquisitions in the recruitment marketing industry since the start of the year. Considering that there had been only 9 acquisitions for the same time period last year, I would say that the numbers seem to be up.

But what does it mean? Does it mean anything? Is it a reaction to a reinvigorated employment market? A rush of money into the pockets of investors? Or is it simply…random? Let’s take a look.

Larger players filling holes: It’s clear that if you’re a larger player in the market, you have access to resources for acquisition that the rest of us don’t. Stepstone acquired the Swiss job site Hoteljob.ch back in January, and recently purchased the assets of AI matching tool Mya. In 2020 Stepstone picked up Cammio, and in 2019 they acquired Appcast, so you get the sense that they are slotting these companies into perceived holes in their offerings. Then there’s Alma Media, a player in multiple European countries, which acquired Techloop, a Czech job matching site. Interesting that two matching tools were acquired thus far this year, eh? Let’s not forget Jobcase – which bills itself as ‘the 3rd largest online career destination’ – acquired Upward.net, growing its reach even more. So basically we have larger job board companies ‘filling holes’ in order to grow. Pretty classic, in my opinion.

Giggers gigging: Then there are ‘marketplaces’ or gig sites – the ones that have survived and are growing, that is. Fiverr picked up Working Not Working, although they say they will continue to run it separately. It seems like this is Fiverr doubling down on a more lucrative part of the freelance market – high end creative work. In an interesting twist, blockchain-based CareerGig acquired blockchain-based Moonlighting. See a thread there? Finally, Helvetic Payroll – not a gig site at all – acquired French gig site Freelance.com. Why? Payroll for freelancers fits in very nicely with gig employment for freelancers, it seems. In all three, we see a maturation of the gig market driving the acquisitions. I expect to see many more acquisitions like the Helvetic one.

Niche sites expanding: If you’re a niche site, acquisitions tend to be all about expansion or adding new services. IranTalent acquired ATS Hire.camp for a classic reason – they wanted to add an ATS. Danish site Jobindex acquired Nyboss.dk and Jobsogningsguide.dk for another classic reason – to get rid of the competition. Multi-niche iHire picked up WorkInSports to bolster its position in the sports market. BioSpace bought US-based medical sales recruiting site MedReps to grow and eliminate a competitor. Finally, Clora acquired Legit.ai to eliminate a competitor and expand their reach.

New tools!: Sometimes a company would rather just buy than build. Ask PandoLogic, which acquired chatbot company Wade and Wendy recently. French powerhouse Hello Work purchased Seekube, a virtual recruitment forum platform (say that five times fast!). Blockchain-powered Job.com picked up Talenting, a blockchain talent management startup. Recruiter.com – no stranger to video recruiting – acquired Scouted.io, a video-based screening and scoring tool. Buying up an emerging – or even more mature – technology company is a classic way for recruitment marketing companies to grow.

So there are some trends in the acquisitions, but perhaps no ‘big trend‘ – unfortunately for pundits. That’s ok. Once you get past the Zips and Indeeds of our industry, you can see that most of these acquisitions are about making more money and reaching more of the market. That sounds familiar!

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