The Job Board Bubble

The world has changed since I wrote about the need for a decentralized job board service last August. Just not quite in the way I had hoped.

Job Boards are the product du jour of tech blogs. We have one, and countless others have sprung up as well. The idea is that the best candidates read these blogs, and by definition are up to speed on cutting edge tech issues. By advertising there, you get the benefit of access to those candidates, without the hundreds of unqualified resumes that come flying in from a Craigslist or listing.

When we created our job board there was no plug and play service available to use, so we built it ourselves. We spent $2,000 to hire a coder, obtained a paypal account, and hit the button. Other than a few bugs here and there, it’s been smooth sailing.

Now, however, there are at least two services that will give you a “job board in a box”, and another one coming soon. Job Thread powers a number of job boards, including this one at Read/Write Web. They take 50% of revenues generated from listings, and as the publisher you can set your own listing price.

This morning SimplyHired is launching a competing service to Job Thread, called Job-a-matic. Like Job Thread, publishers can set their own listing price, and SimplyHired will take 50% of that. Simply Hired is also giving publishers the option of inserting other listings into their job board as well, and will share 30% of any revenue generated from those listings. Many big bloggers seem to agree – Guy Kawasaki, Om Malik, Jeff Jarvis, O’Reilly and John Battelle, among others, are being announced as customers (Om is ditching his own home-grown job board).

Edgeio (a company I own stock in) also announced their own product yesterday, called “Marketplaces.” Edgeio will allow bloggers to create job-specific classified boards, or launch full-on Craigslist competitors with all kinds of listings. They are charging less than the others, taking just 20% of total fees generated.

I think Simply Hired and Edgeio have done this the right way, because they’re taking these listings on individual sites and aggregating them into their search engines, creating far more value to the advertisers. Job Thread doesn’t aggregate the listings.

But what I think would create the most value, and what I called for in my post last August, is something a little different. Tools to easily create a job board are great for bloggers who don’t want to spend a couple of thousand dollars to build it themselves. But it will only exacerbate the problem we already have – too many niche job boards all over the place. Instead, I’d like to see a single job board for tech bloggers, one that we can all sell into, and share the revenues pro-rata. There’s no reason why TechCrunch, VentureBeat, GigaOm, Guy Kawasaki and the others should all have their data in separate silos, aggregated only at the SimplyHired or Edgeio level along with other less interesting listings from all over the planet. None of these announced products do this. If Edgeio moved in that direction, as I am urging them to do, I’ll ditch the CrunchBoard back end and join with them. The same goes for SimplyHired and JobThread. Let us create mini networks within the larger job search engines. Advertisers, job seekers and bloggers will all gain.