$200M Budget – Do You Build, Buy or Partner?


What would you do with $200M?

If you are a PE firm like K1, clearly your job is to invest that money which usually means to ‘Buy’ all or a majority chunk of a company with a lot of potentials to bring that 10X return you need to make up for the -10X investments. The latest $200M investment by K1 into Jobvite demonstrates what I predict will be a fast-growing trend in #HRTech, they chose to Build, Buy AND Partner!

I do find it ironic that K1/Jobvite bought RolePoint and Talemetry considering Jobvite was initially known as a referral based recruitment solution, then became an ATS strong at ‘sourcing’ and the CRM type stuff that makes Talemetry great. I suppose K1’s Build, Buy or Partner study pointed to Buy for the fastest path to keeping up with the market.

I’m surprised the article did not mention RolePoint’s integration hub, to me that’s got more juice than the referral or internal mobility tools they built. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to have helped RolePoint launch in the US 5 years ago and think their solution is awesome, but the industry is unwittingly begging for a master hub to connect all the systems together and be the ‘switch’ like what makes the telecom industry and the Internet what it is today. Can you imagine wanting to call your friend in another country, and the call won’t go through because the telecom vendors in both countries have not yet integrated their systems or made a ‘deal’ to route your call to your friend? That’s #HRTech… K1 – let’s talk.

Solution Stacking, or Marketplace, or Rollup, or Mashup, whatever you call it, it’s a strategy that can work well if done right, but it’s very tricky to make it work well. In the spirit of collaboration, we believe in alliance math (1+1 = 3), but 1+1+1+1 <> “the only true end-to-end talent acquisition platform” – why do people say such nonsense? Considering neither Talemetry or RolePoint were listed on Jobvite’s website as a partner let alone an integrated partner, they’ve got a long road to making this even close to reality. In K1’s defense, the press release did say “K1’s investment will create” but were not so bold to say when. Many #HRTech suppliers like ADP, Oracle, SAP etc. have 100’s of partners to deliver “end to end” solutions, and the best of them will promote their partners as key to delivering ‘end-to-end” solutions for their mutual customers.

The reality is most customers were building these solution stacks on their own to solve their problems, but now that Jobvite decided to buy those ‘table stakes’ types of solutions it should be easier for them to integrate them into the tech stack than if they were trying to do the same as partners. However, time will tell if Jobvite can land more customers with the latest bells and whistles to offset the revenues lost when the current ATS partners at Canvas, RolePoint & Talemetry become former partners.

Build, Buy AND Partner? Jobvite still needs to Build integrations to these new solutions and figure out how to Partner with the newly acquired teams and their clients. Oh, and the current Jobvite marketplace partners, integrated partners, and the long line of vendors banging on the door wanting to partner with Jobvite is about to get a lot longer! Lots of work ahead for the expanded team, and I think they can make it happen – do you think they’re up for the challenge?


About Ward Christman (HR Tech Advisor)

Ward Christman has 25+ years experience in HR technology and services with special expertise in employee referral, ATS solutions and job marketing (via job boards and social media). Ward has helped create dozens of successful partnerships between HR Tech companies. Career Summary: - Launched one of the first online job boards in 1992 (9 years) - Key member of HRsmart (ATS and TM) growth team (8 years) - Contributor to Lawson’s new HCM team (1 year) - First hire for Bullhorn’s corporate social recruiting platform (1 year) - Turnaround artist (Product Owner) for Kenexa’s 2xRecruit ATS (1 year) - Launchpad boosters for RolePoint’s entry into the Social Referral market - Founder, Chief Advisor and Publisher for HR Tech Advisor (2014) - Co-Founder of HRTechAlliances.com (2015) More details at http://www.linkedin.com/in/WardChristman