Archive for the ‘webservice’ Category

Job-Search Sites Face a Nimble Threat

October 9, 2007

Among the hottest Web sites of the past few years were job-search sites such as CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com. Helped by lavish advertising, they became household names. Newspapers, eager to tap the fast-growing online-ad market, teamed up with them.

Now, the hottest names in online recruitment are increasingly specialized job sites. That poses a threat to the growth prospects of the broad-based online job boards and their newspaper partners, analysts said.

In August, the number of unique visitors to CareerBuilder — which is jointly owned by Gannett, Tribune, McClatchy and Microsoft — dropped 2% to 20.2 million, while Monster.com’s traffic rose 4% to 16.3 million visitors.

By contrast, technology-focused Dice.com saw its traffic jump 34% to 998,000. At Healthcaresource.com, which posts health-care jobs, traffic rose 36%.

Of the broad-based sites, Yahoo‘s HotJobs posted strong growth, with traffic rising 53% to 11.7 million visitors, boosted by recent partnership deals with more than 350 newspapers.

“Advertisers are increasingly looking for more-targeted audiences and better-reach sites where they can find candidates that are more qualified,” said Eric Yoon, chief executive of JobThread, which sells recruitment ads on dozens of targeted Web sites. In some of these cases, the cost of placing an ad is a fraction of a post on the big job boards.

Unless the newspaper industry and the big job sites figure out how to fill this burgeoning demand, they could lose market share, said Gordon Borrell, Chief Executive of Williamsburg, Va., research firm Borrell Associates. The market is valued at $5.9 billion but is projected to increase 25% to $9.7 billion by 2011, Borrell estimates. That growth is expected to come both from big companies already advertising online as well as small and medium-size local businesses that mostly don’t use the Web.

The big jobs sites are growing at a steady clip and they say they are making efforts to expand into both international and more-targeted markets. They have allied with newspapers as a way of gaining a local sales presence and a stronger brand name. The New York Times has been a partner of Monster.com, a unit of Monster Worldwide.

“Those have been successful partnerships for newspapers by giving them access to both a national audience as well as leveraging their own local sales and local audience,” said Randy Bennett, vice president of audience and new-business development for the National Newspaper Association.

Some employers complain advertising on broad-based sites generates too many unqualified applications, analysts said. New York online marketing firm 360i, for instance, said it has posted jobs listings on CareerBuilder and HotJobs with little results. “When we are looking for somebody to put a post up there…you get a fair amount of response, but not the quality,” said 360i Chief Executive Bryan Weiner. The firm hasn’t succeeded in hiring any senior-level staff from the broad-based sites.

“Obviously when you are going to a site that has a much larger user base you can get more applicants. You have more to choose from.” said a spokeswoman for CareerBuilder. CareerBuilder and Monster both note that employers can set multiple filters to weed out unqualified candidates.

“To ensure we always have the best talent in every region, across the county, Monster has relationships with several niche sites that target specific demographics. We also have added visibility in the regions touched by the local media outlets we have forged relationships with,” a Monster spokesman said.

Some Web concerns are taking steps to be more targeted in their approach. HotJobs has built an application on social networking site Facebook and is including tools on the site that enable people to email or instant-message a posting.

Yahoo is creating systems so recruitment ads on HotJobs could appear on other Web sites, using techniques that target the ad according to a person’s interests. For instance, if a person registers on an online profile as a nurse in the Southeast, that person could see ads related to the nursing profession. “This is enabling advertisers to go more into the niches…these people are out there on the Web in all sorts of places,” said Kevin Krim, vice president of product at Yahoo HotJobs. “We can reach out to them there with display advertising.”

Newspaper companies are starting to make other investments, too. The New York Times has invested in Indeed.com, a site that lets visitors search for jobs on all the sites that appear on the Web.

One possibility for broad-based sites is to partner with their niche rivals. The difficulty, analysts said, is such an arrangement would hurt the broad-based sites’ revenue because niche sites can’t charge as much for ads. “The larger boards need to be careful because to some extent they could cannibalize themselves [by investing in or working with the emerging sites],” said John Janedis, a publishing and advertising agencies analyst at Wachovia Securities. “Everything is on the table now. We’ll see how it plays out.”

 

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A Marketplace with a Mission

October 3, 2007

By Laura Tiffany

Etsy.com founder Rob Kalin hasn’t just created an online marketplace for crafts; he’s built a site that creates entrepreneurs and strives for a sustainable future.

After speaking with Rob Kalin, the founder of handmade products marketplace Etsy.com, it’s apparent that like any true entrepreneur, his company isn’t just a means to a paycheck. It’s a mission: A mission to change the way commerce works; a mission to promote sustainable products; a mission that, much like eBay, is creating an exponential number of entrepreneurs in its wake.

EBay is an apt, but ironic, comparison. It was frustration with the online auction giant that first inspired Kalin to create Etsy in 2005. As a woodworker, he was looking for a place to sell his wares. “I [felt] like eBay [had] grown to the point where it’s this faceless corporation, and I wanted to create a company that would have a handmade feel to it,” says Kalin, 27. He and a group of college friends holed up in his Brooklyn apartment for six weeks before launching the initial beta version of Etsy.com, with Kalin on design lead and his co-founders, Chris Maguire and Haim Schoppik, handling programming.

A little more than two years later, Etsy has 100,000 active sellers and 500,000 members. More than 1 million items have been sold through the site, which has become synonymous with handmade goods. Part of the site’s attraction is its simplicity. With just a few steps, a crafter can set up his or her store with a subdomain and list items at a set price. Users pay 20 cents to post an item for four months plus 3.5 percent of the selling price.

And the site already has gained cachet in the crafting world. It’s not considered unprofessional to forego building your own website in favor of having an Etsy store; in fact, some crafters who already have established websites build a presence on Etsy, too.

This rapid growth has proven to be a challenge. Etsy now has 47 employees; building the engineering team was so difficult that Kalin opened a new office in San Francisco to attract talent. While rejecting the idea of bringing in an outside CEO to manage Etsy, he has hired a financial person. “We have a really good advisory team, but I also want to keep that experimentation and I don’t want to feel like I have a formula for how things work,” he says.

For the Long Haul
Kalin applies his deep interest in sustainability to his company, not just the products that are sold through it. He views Etsy as a long-term commitment, not as a ticket to dotcom 2.0 wealth, and treats his employees like a community. He pays them a fair wage and provides good benefits and profit-sharing, as well as a casual work environment. “I wanted the company itself to be a community, based on how much we see each other but also because we do have this common purpose,” Kalin says.

This sense of community also pervades Etsy on the user end. The forums hum with Etsy members answering other users’ questions. The latest feature on Etsy, The Storque, is an online magazine written by members. And Kalin hired five of the top Etsy sellers to run Etsy Labs, a community crafts center that shares space with Etsy’s 7,000-square-foot Brooklyn, New York, headquarters. “It’s been incredible,” he says. “Two nights ago at 11 p.m., there were 10 people sitting around cutting patterns, learning how to make their own skirts and shirts.”

For Kalin, it all ties back into his bigger mission: helping to build a sustainable future. “[An item] has this whole other layer of meaning to it if you know who gave it to you, who made it, or if you made it,” he explains. “When it breaks or needs alteration, you can fix it or you know somebody who can fix it. Instead of living in this utterly throwaway culture where if something doesn’t work or doesn’t fit, you just get rid of it.”

Kalin and the 100,000 Etsy sellers aren’t alone in this mission to create. The Craft & Hobby Association charted a 3.3-percent annual increase in the crafts market from 2002 to 2005. The association also says 4 million people each year discover crafts. This all bodes well for Etsy, which should bring in more than $2 million in sales this year.

Right now, Etsy’s engineering team is catching up with the site’s growth, but Kalin’s mind is always racing ahead, thinking of new features. He sees a huge opportunity in internationalization, where Etsy will be served up in local languages, showing items in a user’s native currency first.

“I think there’s still 99 percent of the world who doesn’t know who the hell we are,” says Kalin, in a very glass-half-full manner. That just means Etsy is still on its way to becoming the sustainable world marketplace that Kalin has always envisioned.

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