Monster.com, the leading career-related Web site, was formed in January 1999 by the merger of two online recruiting companies, The Monster Board and the Online Career Center. Both companies were owned by New York-based recruitment firm TMP Worldwide, a publicly-traded company with nearly $1.5 billion in annual revenue in 2001. Since 1999 Monster.com has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build its brand. With funds provided by its parent company Monster.com also acquired other online job-search firms. For $100 million Monster.com entered into a four-year strategic relationship with America Online and gained its own keyword there. Monster.com was TMP Worldwide's best-performing subsidiary, and it claimed to be the only profitable business in its field.
Monster.com is considered an innovator in the field of online recruitment and employment. It was the first to develop a database of resumes with user names and passwords. It was also the first to develop a job-search agent, which has become a standard in the industry. It introduced a talent auction for free agents, allowing them to offer their services to the highest bidder. It was the first online employment service to develop a special area for executive-level positions.
By 2001 Monster.com was a market-share leader with more than 50 percent of the market in nearly every category. Its database of resumes surpassed 10 million in 2001, and the company expected to increase the database to 20 or 30 million resumes. More than 100,000 employers used Monster.com to post job openings and search for recruits, including more than 800 of the Fortune 1000. During the first half of 2001, Monster.com had about 6 million unique visitors going to its Web site about 25 million times a month, with the average user going to the site about once a week. The company boasted about 500 million page views per month, with the average user looking at 25 to 30 pages per month.
BUILDING THE BRAND
One of the key factors in Monster.com 's success was the brand recognition it was able to achieve. Jeff Taylor, Monster.com 's CEO and founder of The Monster Board, is regarded as an innovative marketer.He estimated that Monster.com would spend about $250 million around the world to build the company's brand in 2001. The company did its first Super Bowl ad in 1999, when it introduced its "What I want to be when I grow up" advertising theme, which it used for about two years. Immediately after the ad, traffic at Monster.com increased by 450 percent. The results encouraged the company to spend more on TV advertising and brand building. Taylor estimated that Monster.com spent about $45 million on branding in 1999, with about 65 percent of the budget going to television advertising. The company's ads ran more than 500,000 times during 1999. During this time the company doubled in size, in part as a result of renaming the business Monster.com, advertising on the Super Bowl, and then developing its partnership with America Online. By the end of 1999 Monster.com was easily the most-visited online job search site.
Monster.com also built its brand in other ways. The company owned two blimps, which it flew over major sporting events. The company also had a presence at major events ranging from Mardi Gras to the Daytona 500. The firm's monster mascot, named Trumpasaurus, went to events and ran in marathons. Taylor himself spoke at about 75 events a year. In 2001 Monster.com produced a 30-minute infomercial called "The Monster Show," which was shown on unused media time the company bought on off-peak, non-network programming. The company also bought time on about 100 radio stations, with CEO Taylor going on air to be a guest or host a special program where people could call in and ask questions or talk about finding a job.
ACQUISITIONS AND PARTNERSHIPS ENHANCE LEADERSHIP POSITION
Jeff Taylor started The Monster Board in 1994 with three employees in Maynard, Massachusetts. The company's interactive Web site allowed people to post resumes and look for job openings, primarily in the Northeast. Recruiters also used the site to fill open positions. A year after it was founded, The Monster Board was acquired by TMP Worldwide for $900,000. In 1996 TMP Worldwide went public and raised about $54 million through its initial public offering. For the next two years Monster developed nearly 100 co-branded career sites with partners such as Lycos and USA Today . When traffic coming to Monster from those sites flattened out, the company shifted its focus to developing the Monster.com brand, starting in 1999.
At the end of 1998, just before merging with Indianapolis-based Online Career Center to form Monster.com, The Monster Board was receiving about 5 million visitors a month and listed jobs from about 50,000 employers. Anticipating increased traffic in 1999, the company invested about $1 million in new servers to allow it to scale up its business. By mid-1999 Monster.com had a database of 1 million resumes—none of them more than a year old—and an estimated 180,000 job postings—none of them more than 2 months old. Under one package recruiters paid $7,900 to Monster.com for up to 30 job postings for 60 days, access to the resume database for one year, a company profile on Monster.com, and 5 skill screens per job. PC Magazine rated Monster.com the best online job search site, writing "None can beat Monster.com 's impressive combination of ease of use and power for both job seekers and employers."
In mid-1999 Monster.com launched Monster Talent Market 1.0, an auction service for independent contractors and other free agents. Monster.com charged freelancers a small fee and also received a percentage from companies that signed them to a contract. Under the service independent contractors could post their experience, fees, and projects they were interested in, while employers would use the service to locate and hire temporary worker on a contract basis.
At the beginning of 2000 Monster.com had 2 million resumes posted at its site and an average of 260,000 job openings. According to PC Week, 1.3 million of the resumes posted at Monster.com were in the information technology (IT) field. For its 2000 Super Bowl ad, the company adapted the Robert Frost poem, "The Road Not Taken." After the ad was shown, Monster.com reported more than 4.4 million job searches on the day after, compared to 1.7 million on a day prior to the Super Bowl.
Internationally, the company also committed $20 million for a pan-European advertising campaign, where Monster.com operated sites in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Ireland. Although the company considered expanding into Eastern Europe, it eventually decided to focus on key countries in Western Europe. Its best results were obtained in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. A Spanish site was launched in September 2000, followed by one in Italy in October. For 2001 the company planned to spend $70 to $75 million building its brand in Europe. In 2001 it also announced it would acquire Europe's largest online professional search company, Jobline International, for about $115 million, and gain sites in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, and Finland. Monster.com 's Asia-Pacific strategy began with sites in Australia and New Zealand, a small presence in Singapore and Hong Kong, and the launch of a site in India in March 2001.
Monster.com announced its executive search service in September 2000 and launched it in January 2001. Called ChiefMonster, it targeted executive positions at the vice president level and above. Candidates could post their resumes for free, but they had to pass a screening test. Companies could post an unlimited number of executive positions for about $1,000 per year. Employers and recruiters also had to pay a fee to search the resume database.
Other initiatives for 2001 included an alliance with ESPN to create a Web site for sports jobs. The agreement gave Monster.com advertising time on ABC Sports' college football Bowl Championship Series and access to ESPN's audience of 18-to-34-year-old males. Through another agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor, Monster.com began to share listings and information with the federally run America's Job Bank.
Monster.com and its parent TMP Worldwide became more aggressive about acquiring competing firms and new technologies in 2001. Monster.com also added new services, including a moving and relocation site called Monstermoving.com. Among the technology companies acquired in 2001 were Hiring-Tools, which made Web-based human resources software, and Simpatix, which produced a Web-user interface desktop for recruiters. Career sites acquired in 2001, in addition to the European company Jobline International, included Utah-based FlipDog, which used a Web crawler to find jobs at internal employer postings. The firm's largest acquisition of 2001—if it passed regulatory approval—was a $460 million bid for HotJobs.com, which parent company TMP Worldwide said would continue to operate as a standalone brand. HotJobs.com and FlipDog were considered the number two and three online job search sites, respectively. That left Career Builder, a joint venture owned by Knight-Ridder and the Tribune Co., as Monster.com 's principal competitor. In spite of Career Builder's $200 million bid for Headhunter.net, analysts believed that Monster.com was so far ahead of its competition that it would remain the top online recruiter for the foreseeable future.
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