Seek is exiting Latin America

Seek is exiting latin americaAfter sev­er­al years of under­per­for­mance by its job boards in Brazil and Mex­i­co, it is not a sur­prise that Seek is exit­ing Latin Amer­i­ca. To be clear, there is not a Seek-labeled site in Latin Amer­i­ca; rather, there are sev­er­al job boards that Seek acquired over many years, includ­ing Catho in Brazil and OCC Mundi­al in Mex­i­co. Why? (For a detailed exam­i­na­tion of the exit, take a look at AIM Group’s recent write-up).

Seek has long fol­lowed a of expan­sion through . In south­east Asia, it strength­ened its mar­ket grip via Job­Street. It moved into Chi­na back in 2013 via Zhaopin, and acquired Grad­Con­nec­tion to expand its lead­er­ship in its native Aus­tralia. The com­pa­ny has also active­ly invest­ed in oth­er job boards and HR-relat­ed com­pa­nies, includ­ing Job­s­DB in Hong Kong and of course, the prop­er­ties men­tioned above. Some are sig­nif­i­cant, and some, like a $20M invest­ment in tem­po­rary and casu­al staffing plat­form Side­kick­er, are rel­a­tive­ly small (at least for Seek). It has appeared to be a mod­er­ate­ly suc­cess­ful for mov­ing out of the Aus­tralian mar­ket, and into the glob­al rectech world.

It’s a mod­el that stands in con­trast to one of its key com­peti­tors, Indeed. Indeed has moved – as Indeed – into mar­ket after mar­ket. It isn’t always the case that Indeed is num­ber 1 in every mar­ket – but it often is a strong num­ber two, as is the case in Brazil. So when Seek out of a num­ber two mar­ket for Indeed, it offers the com­pa­ny a chance to move to num­ber one.

How­ev­er, as AIM Group points out, Seek’s exit from Latin Amer­i­ca is most like­ly to help Red Arbor solid­i­fy their hold in the Brazil­ian mar­ket. The com­pa­ny’s Info­Jobs site is num­ber one, Indeed is num­ber two, and Catho is num­ber . The com­bi­na­tion of traf­fic from Info­Jobs and Catho will give Red Arbor an oppor­tu­ni­ty to keep Indeed in a num­ber two posi­tion for the fore­see­able future.

Seek spent $300 mil­lion to acquire these , but is sell­ing them to Red Arbor for $85 mil­lion. Ouch. But…to their cred­it, Seek is doing what busi­ness­es often do with under­per­form­ing prop­er­ties – get­ting rid of them. This reminds me – on a small­er scale – of what Dice tried to do in the 2000s. It acquired mul­ti­ple dis­crete­ly focused niche sites (thus cre­at­ing DHI Hold­ings), in an attempt to expand from its pri­ma­ry focus on the tech sec­tor. It did­n’t work out. The only rem­nant of that effort still present is Clear­ance­Jobs. It turns out that run­ning mul­ti­ple job boards in mul­ti­ple and loca­tions is a bit chal­leng­ing. Seek cer­tain­ly man­aged to do so for much longer that did DHI.

Are there oth­er job board com­pa­nies pur­su­ing sim­i­lar strate­gies? Sure – Step­stone out of Ger­many comes to mind. Will it face the same chal­lenges as Seek? Undoubt­ed­ly. In the mean­time, expect to see Seek con­sol­i­date its hold over Aus­tralia and south­east Asia. And watch Red Arbor get big­ger.

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