Timing Symbolic of Job Boards’ Decline as Randstad Acquires Monster

By Rick Bell

Aug. 9, 2016


The overnight announcement of the pending acquisition of Monster Worldwide by Randstad Holdings was symbolic for this once-dominant player in the job-board industry.

There was a time when Monster was the big-game hunter. But when the news that the Weston, Massachusetts-based job-board giant would be acquired by Randstad dropped into my inbox a tick past midnight Aug. 9 — about 1 a.m. in Monster’s time zone — it was apparent who finally became the prey.

It was prime business time for Randstad, the Netherlands-based international staffing behemoth (although they fancy themselves as a “leading HR services provider”), which early this morning announced the $429 million acquisition of Monster. In fact, even the sale price reveals how far the mighty have fallen.

The term “job board” seems like a fond memory of the Wild West days in the online recruiting world, but consider that just a decade ago its stock hovered in the $50-plus range and Monster’s market capitalization was $7.5 billion. And with such colossal success, in 2007 Monster was the subject of acquisition rumors.

But a stock option scandal, a flood of executive departures and an industry captivated by boutique job boards made Monster’s previous wins short-lived. Then-CEO Sal Iannuzzi attempted to quell the controversy and shortly thereafter Monster acquired key competitor Yahoo HotJobs in 2010. Still, the writing appeared on the wall. Its market cap had tumbled to $1.5 billion and again there were rumblings in 2012 that Monster had hung out the “for sale” sign.

Fact is, Monster didn’t diversify its business the way rival CareerBuilder has (note its March acquisition of background-check company Auricio). And they flat just lost out to Facebook and LinkedIn in the new era of job postings.

The joint release issued overnight states Monster will retain its brand and operate as a separate identity. And Monster CEO Tim Yates put a positive spin on the deal.

“Joining Randstad provides a unique opportunity to accelerate our ability to connect more people to more jobs,” said Yates, who became CEO in 2014. “Together with Randstad, Monster will be better positioned to fulfill our core mission, and our employees will benefit from becoming part of a larger, more diversified company. Equally important, this transaction offers immediate value to our shareholders. We are excited to join and be supported by Randstad, as we continue to build the best recruiting media, technologies, and platforms. We look forward to working with the Randstad team to ensure a smooth transition.”

A story posted on Tech Crunch notes:

“While Monster’s bread and butter and mainstay is its website, Randstad has a focus on recruitment centers. It has some 4,500 branches and says it’s placed some 2 million people in jobs. This will give them an online component to expand that.”

And there is this from Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer at applicant tracking systems company iCIMS:

“This deal underscores how complex talent acquisition has become and is one example of an organization trying to tie more pieces of the hiring landscape into one company,” Vitale said via email. “However, we’ve seen that sourcing strategies remain diverse and one online or offline destination to reach a wide candidate pool is not enough. The ability to bring together multiple job advertising options along with various integrated tools for screening and assessing talent into one platform seems to be the preferred option of many of today’s large hiring organizations.”

Monster’s saga has been a wild one to follow.

And if there was a prequel to the announcement, it was notable that Monster for the first time in memory did not have a monster-sized booth at this year’s annual Society for Human Resource Management conference, instead opting to sponsor a Tuesday night concert by second-tier band Train.

Is this Monster’s final chapter? The Big 3 legacy job boards have dwindled to one, but it’s unlikely that we’ve heard the last of Monster.

Rick Bell is Workforce’s editorial director. For comments or questions email

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