Chad & Cheese run down last week's HR Technology Conference in Vegas, nothing but raw post-game analysis. What sucked and what ROCKED! NOTE: Remember kids, Vegas hangovers suck but that's the kind of shit we do for YOU!
- Start-up Pavillion
- Worst & Best booths
- HR Tech booth dichotomy
- Monster v Careerbuilder compare and contrast
- Where was LinkedIn, Facebook & Google?
- 7 security guards vs. 1 Ward Christman?
PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION sponsored by:
Announcer: Hide your kids, lock the doors. You're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark. Buckle up, boys and girls. It's time for the Chad and Cheese Podcast.
Joel: Welcome to the Rehab is For Quitters episode of the Chad and Cheese Podcast, HR's Most Dangerous. I'm Joel Cheesman.
Chad: And I'm still drunk.
Joel: Nice. On this week's show, we're wrapping up the good, the bad, and the ugly from HR Tech in Vegas last week. We're talking big takeaways, hot companies and trends, and our favorite, whisky and cigars.
Joel: Someone pass the Pedialyte.
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Chad: Yes, or give it a shot of bourbon.
Joel: That's right, that's right. Sovren is not messing around. They're on the warpath.
Joel: I saw at least four different bottles, I think, of whisky that they were passing out the shots at the show. Anything goes in Vegas.
Chad: Oh yeah. And so, we were actually pulled over to take shots of Maker's Mark. And that, it was during, was it before? I think it was before the pub crawl.
Joel: Yeah, so pub crawl for those who weren't there, and a lot of our listeners were not, they did a pretty creative thing. Instead of having a bar set-up, you went to different booths with alcohol and it was, from what I remember, a pretty good time.
Chad: Yeah. And they had them spread out all the way through the conference so you could hit this booth for beer, this booth for some fruity drink or some shit like that. It was really cool. I'm telling you right now, every conference should have something like this. It was wonderful.
Joel: I don't even think Sovren was on the official pub crawl list. They just took it upon themselves to pass out liquor to people.
Chad: Renegades. I love these guys.
Chad: Fucking renegade.
Joel: And they're really mad about the whole AI thing. We're gonna do something with them.
Joel: They're calling it, I think, Black AI like Blackhat AI and Whitehat AI or something and how most AI is BS so we're gonna get to the bottom of Sovren's opinion on AI.
Chad: Well, yeah. What I think should happen is we should go down to Austin, where they're at, you have a ten gallon white hat, because you have such a big fucking head, and I have black hat, and we just do our thing.
Joel: Yeah, and my head is bigger 'cause it has hair on it, by the way.
Chad: There's a little bit of that, yeah.
Joel: Should we get to the rest of the shout-outs? I think we have maybe a few after the show.
Chad: Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, for first, first off though, big props, thanks so much guys, Uncommon, Emissary for carting our asses along with them through HR Tech. Wouldn't have been there because HR Tech said "Screw you guys, you're not getting media passes."
Joel: Yeah, big thanks to those guys. And our sponsors, who were front and center -
Joel: Of the show.
Joel: They were everywhere.
Joel: And certainly, sponsoring our show got 'em to that point, obviously. It had nothing to do with the talent, or the technology, at these companies. I'm talking, JobAdX, who customized tee-shirts for both of us, by the way, I'll add. Sovren, who we touched on, whisky shots. Talroo was there as usual, really good presence from our sponsors and shout-out to them.
Chad: Yup, Uncommon was there and not to mention, JobAdX actually spent more money to be able to get the tee-shirt size that you needed. So I thought that was pretty awesome of them.
Joel: It is an extra 'cause when the guns are out dude, ya gotta have a little extra fabric on that sucker. And you got such groupies over at Uncommon, apparently. That's fun to say.
Chad: Well, it's pretty cool that, so Emily Wares, I came up to the booth, just to check out, have some conversations with Teg, and it was awesome. Emily was there and they're like "Hey, this is Chad," and she's like "Oh, I know Chad" and she wanted a selfie and I just thought that was really cool that she was geeking out over meeting me.
Joel: Yeah, I can't explain that one at all. I don't -
Chad: I don't, either. But thanks Emily. And then also Megan, over at gr8 People, who was frickin' awesome. She tagged us on the tweet and we went over and had another picture with her so that was really cool. So, yeah, no, thanks to gr8 People, Megan, and all the peeps over there.
Joel: Shout-out to Doug Berg and his team at ZAPinfo. Not a sponsor yet, hopefully one day. But he was on the Firing Squad and according to his team, his presence on Firing Squad resulted in a breaking of the dam, in terms of business and money coming in.
Chad: Oh, come on.
Joel: So, hat's off and shout-out to ZAPinfo.
Chad: Well, that's sweet. Well that being said, Vervoe, our first Firing Squad, we went out and had drinks with Omer. And so yeah, another, not a sponsor but we got all these different companies who've been engaged or have actually worked with, collaborated with Chad and Cheese Podcast. It was fun to meet all those guys.
Joel: We touch so many lives. So much love on this show, it's hard to take.
Chad: It's a bad touch. It's a bad touch.
Joel: And thanks for feeding us, Monster and HiringSolved. I crashed the Monster dinner, you got an official invite which is crap. Shout-out to those guys for keeping us fueled with dinners, we really appreciate that.
Joel: Very nice. Shout-out to more of our fans, Danielle at Beamery comes to mind.
Joel: But just a number of people that mention the show, recognized us, whatever, was really cool. The fact that this show touches some people is awesome and we appreciate the love we got at the show, for sure.
Chad: And we had a beer with Ed from Philly.
Joel: Yeah. Who, as he highlighted, doesn't need help finding friends.
Chad: He does not need help.
Joel: He's doing just fine on his own, yeah. Ed that was awesome, that was awesome. Philly. They're playing the Colts next week, by the way.
Joel: They're in Philly, I think. So anyway, that just popped in my head. It has no relevance to the show, but, yeah.
Chad: Philly looks like shit right now, my god. Can you buy a fucking kicker in the NFL today?
Joel: Dude, don't even get me started. Carson Wentz is back next week, though, so that'll be interesting.
Chad: Thank god. Thank god. So last shout-out, unless you got more but I want to start into another bigger discussion, Ward Christman and Larry Cummings for inviting us to the HR Tech Collaboration Zone. So the big conversation around this is, it seems like HR Tech, they carry a sledgehammer with them and anybody who comes near the conference, they just whack-a-mole, man. Ward was escorted out of the Venetian. He was in the Starbucks, which was outside of actual conference itself, by seven security guards. What the fuck is that all about?
Joel: I don't know. There are pictures - for those who don't know, so Ward runs an organization association kind of thing, and HR Tech, the organization has not been very congenial to them. They've not been real welcoming to us as well, although you and I are not been getting escorted out of Starbucks.
Joel: Yet. Yeah, Dorcey's maybe, which is one of the bars there. Anyway, that was crazy. If you wanna go to like, Twitter, if you follow Ward, Facebook, even LinkedIn, he's got pictures of the cops. It's pretty interesting. Yeah, who knew that HR was such a cut throat, beat 'em over the head business.
Chad: It's not, that' the fucking problem. I mean, this is a people business. It's a software business, not to mention, I mean, HR Tech is really like a shark, right, when it comes to conferences. And Ward and some of these other smaller ones are kinda like pilot fish, you know what I mean? And they're there and it's not that they're bad. I mean you can go through life very nicely being one of those pilot fish, right? But HR Tech, I mean, it's like, yeah you can't do anything. It doesn't matter if we're doing it or not, we don't wanna collaborate and we're gonna hit you with a sledgehammer and seven security guards. That was ridiculous.
Joel: Yeah, history's not real kind to organizations that do those kinds of things, so, I for one are rooting for a little bit more balance in the conference sector. Rooting for the ERE's of the world, the TA Techs of the world, the Unleashes of the world, to balance this thing out 'cause maybe HR Tech has a little too much power at the moment.
Chad: Well and balance, we talk about balance. It was really weird because it's been a while since I've been to an HR Tech. It seemed like there were no practitioners there. I mean, in comparison, it was like there were really no practitioners there compared to the amount of vendors that were there. And I kept asking the vendors, you know, is there really a conference where you guys connect with practitioners at all, and they're like, "Oh yeah, no." This is about partnerships, or nothing because really, the practitioners are very few and far between.
Joel: Yeah, which is another reason why, you know, keeping the press out is stupid because these vendors want coverage, they want to talk to people that write stuff, they want to talk to the social butterflies of the industry, and you know, keeping them out just doesn't make a lot of sense to me. But yeah, I agree there weren't a ton of practitioners and there were, they weren't very vocal or visible.
Chad: It was pretty nasty. It was pretty nasty.
Joel: Whomp-wah. Can we get to the show?
Joel: Alright. First thing's first. I don't know. What do you wanna talk about?
Chad: Well let's go with, let's start with Pitch Fest. So, I mean, Pitch Fest was interesting and the production was really cool. The stage, and you know, it was funny 'cause Tim Sackett was like the first MC. He does a great job but it's hilarious. Tim is like the face of SHRM right now. And, come one, ya know. Love the guy to death, but come on. You gotta -
Joel: That's the bow tie. The bow tie had me.
Chad: You gotta find a much better looking face to be the face of SHRM, guys.
Chad: Love him. Give him a big hug. But yeah, he's not the best looking guy in the world.
Joel: Dude, he's our Indeed jail informant. It's all good.
Chad: But we still love -
Joel: Tim's all good in our book.
Chad: We love him.
Joel: We love him, for sure.
Chad: So, Pitch Fest. Five minutes, okay. And they had so many of these start ups doing Pitch Fest. I mean, five minutes, first off to me is ridiculous, 'cause you've got three, I think it was three minutes, to pitch and then you only had two minutes for Q&A. So, that's not enough time really to evaluate anything. I mean seriously, especially HR technology. So, yeah, I thought it was like they just had too much and it was almost like how many start ups can we get into this? And then let's try to crunch the time as much as we possibly can. It just, from a value standpoint, somebody who is listening, I think ten minutes, minimum, should have been where they started.
Joel: Yeah, I think the 15 minutes our death match contestants will get is much more viable then the minimal time they got there. However, there's something to be said for elevator pitches, right? I certainly didn't see all the pitches, I don't think you did either, but what were some of the start ups that stuck out in your mind.
Chad: Yeah, that's a good question. So, Jane.AI, I went through one of their demo's and I thought that was something that really stuck out. You know, a lot of the other ones were really our sponsors because I want to find out more about what they were doing, so you know obviously JobAdX and Uncommon. I didn't -
Joel: Uncommon were great.
Chad: Yeah, I mean they're launching some shit here in the new, ya know, few weeks, or month or so that I think is gonna be pretty amazing. But yeah, there were so many chat bots. To be able to have conversations around just that in itself was a full day's damn work.
Joel: I'll add, I'll second the ones that you mentioned, as well as I'll throw in Disco.
Chad: Oh, yeah.
Joel: What was interesting, and this would be a major take away from me is that I think we're sorta seeing an app 2.0 resurge, so most listeners will know about obviously iPhone/android apps, Facebook apps, essentially building stuff on other people's platform. To me the next wave of innovation is sorta being built on Slack. Slack, as many people know, the messaging service for businesses, both Disco and Jane.ai are built on Slack, and they've grown through that platform. We talked to Monster, which I guess we'll talk about the next break, but they're also dabbling in the app ecosystem. I'll save that for after the break. It's very evident that that platform is gonna be a hotbed for new companies going forward, and I think we're just seeing that now at this year's Pitchfest with Disco and Jane.ai.
Chad: Yeah. I think Slack...that was how there business has been built. It's like look, we don't want to build all these apps. We might acquire them, who knows right? But to be able to build them doesn't make any sense, so just leave the power to the people, give them the APIs, give them the tools and let them go and build. The thing is though, from risk standpoint... we talked about this a long time ago with Gary over at Tweet My Job before it was bought by Career Arc...that when you base your business off of somebody else's platform, when they change rules, you could be screwed. You could be done with your entire business model if they change what they're doing. And we also saw that on the SEO side with a lot of aggregators. So yes, it's incredibly cool and if a system like a Slack continues to work in that current business model, that is perfect. But if they're actually acquired and that changes, again, there's just risk. There's risk in any business but that's a big risk.
Joel: Huge risk. Yeah. Some listeners will remember a company called Branch Out which basically built its whole business on Facebook's platform, and when Facebook changed the rules, the company went into the proverbial shitter. I assume BeKnown by Monster they're dabbling on Facebook had a similar ending. LinkedIn has changed their API over the years. Facebook continues to change it. Yeah, you're basically a sharecropper. It's a sharecropper situation. When it's someone else's land that you're farming, don't be surprised if they kick you off or change the rules on you. Slack, to their credit, probably will change the rules, so move forward with caution when you move to platforms.
Joel: But I think for the immediate future, Slack has a real advantage if they open things up and grow the business, and hopefully don't change things too much for folks. I do actually think that Slack's API gives the company the power to shut off specifically certain apps. So IBM, if they use Slack, they can individually turn off an app from being on their own platform, but you still remain on Slack So they may do stuff a little bit differently from like a Facebook because they are so specific to this space, but yeah, move forward with caution.
Joel: What were some other takeaways from the show that you got?
Chad: Well first off from what you just said, you could turn from sharecropper into a sharecrapper.
Joel: I think you pulled that one at the show and I booed it as well.
Chad: No I did it at dinner and everybody loved it except for you. So I actually went around from booth to booth on one of the mornings I was there early... I think it was the last morning I was there early... and I wanted to take some time to look through and see how these companies were actually spending their money. So I'd like to talk about some of the really cool booths and then some of the bad booths and why they were bad. You wanna do that?
Chad: So, not to pimp our sponsors out, but I do believe that Talroo had a really good booth. It was a big footprint. I mean it was expensive, don't get me wrong. They had leather couches, you could chill and you could charge your phone you could just kinda chill with your buddies. You could do work, but you could charge your phone in their little consoles, and that was really open, inviting... and that's the kind of experience I would want somebody to have with my brand. What do you think?
Joel: Yeah, Talroo was great. I think, for those who didn't go, the front of the expo hall was where the big players are, that's where Career Builder drops their load. That's where the startups sorta want to get noticed and make an impact. And then as you go back into the expo hall you get to the 20x10's, the 10x10 booths, the kiosk island with startups that had just a little kiosk to show people. What stood out to me on the booth, two things stood out to me in the expo hall. Number one is apparently chat bots are for real. Apparently the whole automation messaging thing is gonna really be a thing because the two that stood out to me were Mya and Olivia/Paradox. Paradox in particular looked like the monolith from 2001. It was like this big thing coming out of the ground with no windows, there was like one entrance to the thing. But when you went into it, there was stations to work and salespeople, so that stood out to me. And Mya was a very similar big presence at the show.
Joel: I tend to like the underdog. My second takeaway was go to the back of these things, go to the nooks and crannies and the corners that don't get the high traffic. The back of the bus so to speak is where the fighting is going on, the passion. The actual founder is at the booth, the CEO is there...they're finding the ground war, the guerrilla war that the other companies aren't. So I got a kick out of going back to see Good Time who's also Firing Squad alumni. Textio was back there, some companies I've never heard of and probably never will hear from again, Happy or Not, the company where you slap a smiley face or a frowning face in regards to how you feel. To me those are the companies that are interesting just because they're fighting that good fight and the people that usually started the businesses are the ones that are actually in the booths.
Chad: It's funny because Olivia had kinda the monolith set up, but it was really like the antithesis of Talroo's set up. Talroo was like it felt inviting, come on, engage with our brand, where Olivia was more like stay the fuck out unless we invite you in. That's how it felt, right? And not to say that they didn't have... cause they had an army of people that were actually there who were nice and sweet, but still it's all about that brand and building that brand, and that is what some of the actual booths felt like. It was walled off... I understand there's kinda like this secrecy, what's in there kind of a thing, but yeah that's not what I got from it. It just wasn't warm and inviting at all. It was really cold and stay the fuck out.
Joel: Okay I guess we can differ on that. I had no problem with what's inside strategy. It's like a private club kind of thing, what's behind the velvet rope. You didn't have to be invited, you could just walk in. It's hard to be noticed in a sea of booths, that's why companies buy like the overhead to hang from the ceilings, they can be seen. Like Paradox, it was like a house in the center of the exhibit hall. So we can disagree on that. I guess the final verdict is the companies themselves and how they did with that strategy. For me it's like the kiosk, the ground...that to me is interesting. The companies that will eventually be at the front of the expo hall to me is where the action is.
Joel: Another takeaway for me for sure was business is good. Money is flowing, companies need solutions, unemployment is down to just bare bones. It's a good time to be in the employment industry. And you and I have seen at least two each downturns in the business and most people are saying in the next two to three years we'll see another dip, but for now man the party is on and it's a good time.
Chad: So when you're Oracle and you have this huge like Starbucks...it's not even really a booth, it's like a Starbucks right? And Oracle has a shit ton of cash right? But still they're spending the cash. Cornerstone is hanging donuts off the side of the wall right? It's like what makes people happy? The aroma of donuts in the morning. Grab a donut, get a coffee. I mean it was crazy, cool shit. And Jobalign I would say gets an honorable mention because they were just a few rows back from Career Builder and they were on Main Street. I don't know how they got there cause you know they didn't pay the high price, but sometimes you gamble and they got some amazing placement.
Chad: But my best overall was Clickboarding, an onboarding platform. Never seen these guys before in my life, but they didn't spend a lot of money at all. They didn't do the Oracle, ADP stuff. What they did was they bought a double sized booth and they made it really cool. It was kind of inviting, kind of the faux wood, corrugated steel, it had a seating area, a little bar action. It was cool and it was something that again, it was one of those things where you gotta take a look from a marketing standpoint. Do you want your brand to feel cold and steely or do you want it to be warm and inviting? There was really a dichotomy between the two, and that's really what you saw. You didn't see an in between. You saw either really cold and steely or it was just kinda cool, chill, come on in and let's talk.
Joel: Pretty sure that's the first time the world steely has been used on the podcast, so drink to that one. And you used it twice. And yeah if Elvis is still alive, he was at the show because I saw at least two or three Elvis impersonators.
Joel: And by the way can I just real quickly... I thought this was really cool. So you mentioned Oracle.
Joel: So the actual badge that you had around your neck has a little whatever thing. So the one that Oracle had is actually a charger for your Android or iPhone, and I thought that was awesome. It's an actual functional badge holder or strap or whatever it's called. So shout out to Oracle for that or whoever came up with that. That was good.
Chad: I have one last thing on the booth scenario is my why. Why...and I love these guys, I love Shaker and I love NAS... but why do they have booths? Why do they spend money when they really don't have technology and they could use that money to send more people to shake hands, kiss babies, gather intel, and develop partnerships?
Joel: Or sponsor podcasts?
Chad: Or sponsor podcasts? Now TMP has TalentBrew right, so that was really their brand while they were there, the whole thing was TalentBrew. So it makes sense to me on that side of the house, but on the Shaker, NAS side of the house, yeah man, spend that money, you know more...don't do a damn booth.
Joel: I will end my whatever from the show with it was a lot about who wasn't there. A few companies that should have been were not, or would regularly be there were not there. I will note that Glassdoor was not there, which to me helps support the thesis that Indeed is just gonna suck them up and eat them alive, and there won't be a Glassdoor brand at some point in the future. To me that was sort of telling. There was no Facebook, there was no LinkedIn, there was no Google, who are the three companies that we talk about the most, couldn't even give a shit to even be there. So that stood out to me as well.
Chad: Tarquin was there. He was walking around and we actually missed each other. We were gonna have a beer or coffee or something, so he was there. Definitely, again, he didn't see worth or they didn't see worth in spending stupid amounts of cash on a booth, but in some cases, they were probably there just walking and doing business a different way.
Joel: Microsoft was there interestingly. There were-
Chad: Two booths!
Joel: Yeah, two booths. So that was...Microsoft but no LinkedIn. Yeah that was interesting to me. Let's take a quick break and talk about Augmented Reality, Career Builder and I guess, Monster.
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Chad: Amit did really well on the pitchfest stage.
Joel: He did. I want to say he almost made it to the end. I don't know if any of them made it, their whole pitch in the three minute time period.
Chad: Yeah, it's ridiculous.
Joel: Yeah. You would think like the firing squad would prepare companies for the pitch, but no, that was tough for them.
Chad: But with two minutes of Q&A, you kind of think like, "God, I got to cram more shit into my pitch, because I'm not going to be able to get it out there in the Q&A."
Joel: Yeah, I get it. I get it. Okay. You have a great insider quote.
Chad: Yeah, so the reason why we didn't talk about the Career Builder booth, was because we're going to do a segment on Career Builder and Monster, kind of a compare and contrast of the old guard and how they, how we see them today, especially after an HR Tech. So it's hilarious. Instead of me just ripping into them their booth, and when I have two practitioners, which probably were the only two that were there, who actually gave me quotes. This is one, and I'm not going to say who it is, because you'll know in a second.
Chad: "Why in the fuck would Career Builder waste money on a 50 by 40 booth at HR Tech. So sad. Like the dude with the tiny penis who drives a bright yellow Corvette"
Joel: This is our fan base by the way. This is who we attract.
Chad: But a practitioner. But a practitioner at a director level, let me tell you. Practitioner number two, again, very high level, said jokingly, "Next year as an encore to this year's 'experience', Career Builder will be lighting $200,000 cash on fire in their booth space."
Joel: Now, that I like too. That I like too. I was talking to an agency person, who I will not name, who compared and contrasted Monster's sort of booth with their mentality.
Chad: Ah, okay.
Joel: And I think you and I will agree on the Monster side, because we interviewed their CEO, Scott Gutz, which if you can edit that thing, will go live here at some point. But there is humbleness, a humility, in the Monster higher ups that's pretty refreshing. Like I think they really understand the brand's been in the mud for a while, they have a really high mountain to climb to fight off Google, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. But there's a real humble mentality there and I think that came through in the booth.
Joel: The booth was very tempered, it was creative and it stood out.
Chad: No, it did. It did.
Joel: But it wasn't over the top by any means, and this is a company that in the past has had actual semi-trucks in the exhibit hall to put their stuff up, and have had multiple squishy Monster dolls and giveaways.
Joel: Like this was a really toned down company, and I think it represents or reflects their business going forward. Career Builder, my contact mentioned, was like, he doesn't think they understand what's going on in the market. Like, they don't understand, they still think, my comparison is they're sort of like Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, right? Like even though the world has shifted, Lebron has left, the dude still kind of is tone deaf around the fact that they can't compete any more, that's it's all about super teams, it's all about, a different landscape.