New Ownership at CareerBuilder Means Cost-Cutting, Layoffs, and Departing Executives

It’s not 1999 anymore.

There was a time when anything with a dot-com at the end of it was akin to a rocket ship blasting to a moon made of money. Job boards like Monster.com were thought to have tremendous growth potential (think all the employment ads posted on every paper in the world on one website) and valuations followed. Lavish spending on things like a blimp was actually a thing.

Nearly 20 years hence, things certainly haven’t played out like many thought they would. Ironically, job boards resemble the very newspapers they were predicted to destroy. That is, the classifieds business has become commoditized, and free-spending is being replaced by disciplined management and squeezing as much profit as possible out of every dollar.

Change is uncomfortable, especially for those who remember the good times. Monster has already gone through its major changes following the acquisition by Randstad a few years ago. Almost no one from the previous regime is around. It was just a matter of time before CareerBuilder, acquired by Apollo Global Management shortly after Monster was scooped up, would have to go under the cost-cutting knife.

According to five different sources, including both current and past employees who spoke to me on condition of anonymity, life under the new overlords is turning out to be really uncomfortable. Executives jumped ship, there have been layoffs, and developers have been exiting. “I’ve got a dozen of their good people in my candidate pool,” a competitor who also agreed to talk on the condition of anonymity told me.

Long-termer Richard Castellini, who goes as far back as the Headhunter.net days, nearly 20 years ago, is leaving CareerBuilder-owned Broadbean where he served as president. “CareerBuilder was fortunate that Richard has spent the past three years expanding our Broadbean business in APAC,” says Michael Erwin, director of global corporate communications and social media at CareerBuilder. “As with all expat assignments, visas have expiration dates and he is returning to the states in April. There is not a senior-level executive role based in our Chicago office available at this time and he will be leaving CareerBuilder.”

Colin Field, another executive who had been with CareerBuilder since the Headhunter.net acquisition in the ’90s, and served as vice president of infrastructure up until April 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile, is now at New Relic. Jim Butler, formerly senior director, governance, risk, and compliance, is now COO at myNetWatchman, according to his LinkedIn profile. Kevin Knapp, CFO, is no longer with the company, too, Erwin confirms.

Developers, typically the most coveted employees in a tech company like CareerBuilder, are apparently the most likely to leave the company as Apollo rearranges the furniture. “Very few were let go,” my source said. Many “jumped ship.” Alex Green, general counsel for Career Builder, said in an email to ERE that “most of our engineers are still with Career Builder. Of those who are no longer with us, some were impacted by restructuring, while others left to pursue other opportunities.”

My source said that compensation was the primary cause for the mass exodus. “Historically, raises happened in January and July. However, when Apollo took over in October, and then gave us [new president and COO] Irina (Novoselsky) in November or December, they decided to go over the budget again. Raises were postponed till April, which most were understanding of, but when the numbers were officially released they were less than people were expecting.”

Erwin, the communications director, says this is false, but did not point out any specific inaccuracies when we invited him to clarify.

My source predicted more departures coming soon within the department as people search for and get jobs elsewhere.

Change abounds in the sales department. One former salesperson told ERE Editor Todd Raphael, “I was let go without notice a week after closing a very big new client.”

There’s conflicting information regarding an annual event CareerBuilder regularly put on for top sales performers in the past known as Presidents’ Club. One of my sources said that the event most recently scheduled for Cabo, Mexico was cancelled in a company-wide conference call lead by CEO Matt Ferguson months ago. However, in audio that was sent to me, chief sales officer John Smith says the event was only postponed.

Originally, Erwin denied a trip to Mexico ever happening. “CareerBuilder has never had an annual sales meeting in Mexico,” he said. “We have provided sales incentive trips in tropical locations in the past. With our company sale closing late in 2017, trip winners received money and feedback was favorable.”

However, when I showed him a hashtag on Instagram titled #cbtrip2015, which clearly shows photos of CareerBuilder enjoying all that Mexico has to offer, he changed his tune. “CareerBuilder has never had an all company trip to Mexico. However, in 2015 we did have a sales incentive trip to Mexico.”

CareerBuilder Sales Party

Happier Days: CareerBuilder’s Top Performers Celebrating at Annual Getaway, mid-2000s

In light of all this, it’s no surprise anonymous employee review sites like Glassdoor and Indeed are heating up. Here’s my personal favorite:

Article Continues Below

I continue to be baffled that no one seems concerned about the fact that well over a hundred people now voluntarily turn over each month, and with zero innovation or vision it’s pretty clear that Apollo’s goal is not to provide capital to fund our future, as we were all promised. I’m not even sure what the goal is, at this point.

To phase out our SaaS products that are the most profitable and somehow attempt to compete in the online job advertising space that was commodified years ago and is currently owned by Indeed? Up until Google or Facebook begins doing it better than them? In what reality can we compete at scale with these guys?

There are a lot more, but you get the idea.

Of course, anyone familiar with private equity companies like Apollo won’t be shocked. They only have one job: Maximize profitability. The saying is, after all, “cold, hard cash” for a reason.

 

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article, not yet ready to be published, was briefly sent live inadvertently a few weeks ago when our site was hacked. We took it down as soon as we saw that it had it had gone live, and continued work on the final version of article, which is above.

Joel Cheesman

Joel Cheesman has over 20 years experience in the online recruitment space. He worked for both international and local job boards in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. In 2005, Cheesman founded HRSEO, a search engine marketing company for HR, as well as launching an award-winning industry blog called Cheezhead. He has been featured in Fast Company and US News and World Report. He sold his company in 2009 to Jobing.com. He was employed by EmployeeScreenIQ, a background check company. He is the founder of Ratedly, an app that monitors anonymous employee reviews. He is married and the father of three children. He lives in Indianapolis.