who’s going to buy hotjobs?
published by , on 19/04/2009

I still remember the day I met HotJobs. It was at SHRM in 1998, if hangover serves me correctly. The company was exhibiting in a modest booth and was more akin to a punchline, jokingly accused of being a porn site, than a legitimate company. “What kind of hot jobs do you have?”

No one was laughing, however, when they opened their war chest for a Super Bowl ad a few months later. And they really weren’t laughing when the start-up was picked-up by Web icon Yahoo! in 2002. Since then, by most counts, HotJobs has been a solid acquisition for Yahoo! and one of its best revenue generators.

Fast forward to 2009 and the company is subject to new rumors about acquisitions and sell-offs. This time compliments of The New York Times.

Under [New Yahoo! CEO Carol] Bartz, Yahoo has also been trying to sell some business units that it doesn’t consider core to its mission, including Hotjobs, the online recruiting service, according to several people familiar with the plans.

Will it happen? Time will tell. Until then, who are some possible suitors?

  • Monster – Let’s start with the obvious choice and the one with the most recent track record of buying companies. It’s doubtful Yahoo! will accept stock as part of an acquisition by MWW and it’s even more doubtful that Monster has the liquid it would take to buy HotJobs. It would also be interesting to see how much crossover between customers there are at the moment. Might not be ideal.
  • CareerBuilder – They’ve been in the print/online hybrid business for quite awhile now, so the existing relationships Yahoo! has with print entities around the country would be a natural fit, if not a bureaucratic mess. Still, with recent layoffs and cost-cutting measures at the company, acquisition seems unlikely.
  • News Corp – Already an investor in the space via Simply Hired, Murdoch and Co. could be looking at the HotJobs brand to help support Fox and their other properties, such as The Wall Street Journal.
  • Microsoft – Another company that’s dipped its toe into employment in the past (CareerBuilder stake), Microsoft is already close to Yahoo! and potentially looking at a search relationship. Could a deal that combines Yahoo! Search and HotJobs be that unreasonable?
  • Dice – With a wide array of niche sites in its arsenal, Dice could be looking at a play that would compliment their existing catalog and jump into The Big Three overnight. And how many HotJobs clients could they turn into Dice clients?
  • Jobing – A long shot? Maybe. Rumor is they’ve been actively looking for companies over the past 6 months to add to they’ve done in the past. And HotJobs’ newspaper play caters to Jobing’s local focus pretty nicely, and in markets they don’t currently target hardcore.
  • None of the Above – Bad economy. Bad timing. ‘Nuff said.

Aside from those who say a deal is D.O.A., I for one wouldn’t be surprised if we saw some movement out of Sunnyvale around HotJobs. Whenever you have a motivated seller – and Yahoo! undoubtedly is by most accounts – things happen that normally wouldn’t.

As one source said, “This is what shitstorms are for.”

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