What Our Ecosystem Can Learn from the Acquisition of Monster

Bird with head in sand at a beach.

The news of Monster’s acquisition by Randstad hit this week, and it is undoubtedly being compared to another recent headline story in the recruiting industry. Less than two months ago, LinkedIn was purchased by Microsoft for $26 billion. In contrast, Monster’s purchase price was $426 million, with Randstad paying just $3.40 a share. So, what happened?

By now, dozens of industry experts have shared their thoughts on why Monster fell from the top. It essentially comes down to the fact that Monster’s leadership failed to recognize three things: the impact of not listening to clients’ needs and not innovating, the importance of identifying and adapting to competitive pressures, and how mobile would prolifically change how people obtain work.

Stay Relevant

What does this have to do with Shiftgig? We experienced this, and I like to say we came out on the other side. Here’s our story.

Shiftgig launched in early 2012 as a free digital community providing hourly workers access to a professional network and better employment. While LinkedIn served those looking to connect and establish white collar careers, it largely ignored those looking for shift-based, service industry jobs.

Despite 1.4 million profiles and 30,000 businesses, Shiftgig wasn’t scaling exponentially. In late 2013, we spent six weeks talking with our clients about their needs. We found that the $400 job posting was dead, and businesses wanted pre-vetted, hourly workers for short (one to 90-day) time periods. Given that feedback and the emergence of UberX, we pivoted our business model to an on-demand mobile marketplace that could provide the transparency and both worker quantity and quality that businesses were seeking.

The valuable lesson we learned is to always be a student in order to stay relevant. And perhaps in no industry is this more important than in the world of workforce solutions. Consider the number of competing forces that are driving change in how labor is managed.

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Defining work. Today “work” can be full-time, part-time, project-based, temporary, shift-based, gig-based, task-based or even only take mere minutes like a ride. Workers themselves can be in an office, a warehouse, at home, in a car or sitting in another country. With so many different types of work arrangements, it can be challenging for technology companies to innovate fast enough for current client needs, let alone predict trends and develop functionality to manage tomorrow’s processes.

The rise of mobile. It’s no longer the Internet that’s shaking up processes for finding and managing workers – it’s mobile. Millennials and fresh-out-of-college Generation Z have grown up, quite literally, with the Internet, social networks and mobile apps. Now that they’re taking over the workplace – Millennials are now the largest working generation – they expect to use their smartphones to get things done professionally. In fact, 34 percent of 18-29-year-olds have applied for a job from their phone. We see this trend firsthand, as Shiftgig conducts interviews via FaceTime and Skype.

Changes in legislation. As a result of the ACA’s employer mandate, many companies cut their workers’ hours to avoid paying for healthcare. Coupled with that, the gig economy is now mainstream, and new technology solutions and better insurance options ease the administrative burdens and uncertainty of non-traditional work. All signs point to the pendulum swinging even further, as legislation coming in the year ahead will allow for even more salaried workers to make the leap.

In this fast-moving space, every provider is a student to these forces of change. Whether 10 or 10,000 employees, HR companies must stay nimble enough to not just meet customer needs, but also predict and evolve to meet what’s next.

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Eddie Lou
Eddie Lou is co-founder and executive chairman of Shiftgig, a workforce technology company focused on empowering people to find local employment opportunities in a flexible manner and enabling leading staffing agencies retain, optimize, and redeploy their workforce.

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