Austin City No Limits w/ Thad Price
Lots going on at Talroo these days. So the boys hit-up the HQ to have a chat with CEO Thad Price. A wide variety of topics are discussed, including how they differentiate themselves from Indeed when hiring in Austin, Texas. Enjoy.
Disclosure: Talroo paid for our trip and time to help out with a separate initiative. We just weren't going to leave without talking to Thad.
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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.
Chad: Hello, Austin!
Joel: What's up, Austin.
Chad: Austin. We've got beer.
Joel: Beautiful people here in Austin.
Chad: We've got beer. I've got to say, they've got a wonderful assortment of
beer right out of the gate.
Joel: Local beer.
Chad: Local. Shiner Bock.
Thad: And how does it compare to some of the other cities that you've been to as far as the beer culture?
Chad: This is ... This is much ...
Joel: Shiner's solid.
Chad: Yeah, this is much better for sure.
Joel: There are other brands in there. Who's the beer guy? Like who's the aficionado of beer?
Joel: Nobody. Nobody drinks here at Talroo. It's a drug free environment apparently. Joseph-
Joel: ... what's the best beer in the fridge right now?
Chad: How are you not drinking a beer?
Joseph: Oh, I like Fireman's Core. Fireman's Core is pretty solid.
Thad: Oh, okay. That's in there. Yeah, it's in there.
Joel: Fireman's Core. So I'm Joel Cheesman.
Chad: And I'm Chad Sowash.
Joel: And we are the Chad & Cheese podcasts if you haven't heard of us before.
Chad: HR's most dangerous.
Joel: We are more or less a weekly roundup of news, opinion, from the recruiting world. We also do some monthly shows. Talroo is a sponsor of our show called Firing Squad.
Chad: Ooh, everybody loves Firing Squad.
Joel: It's a bit of a Shark Tank for the recruiting industry. Hopefully guys have tuned into that, if you haven't, you should.
Chad: Who doesn't love listening to a startup just get their ass ripped?
Joel: So when there's an audience with their CEO at the front, they act very weird. They don't quite know what to do. Is this the first podcast that's ever presented here at the ...?
Thad: Yes, it is.
Joel: Yeah, it's okay. So they don't know what the hell how to react, so we'll have to loosen them up. So keep drinking and we'll tell more dad jokes and we'll get this going.
Joel: So we're joined here today by Thad Price. Fairly newly minted CEO of the organization.
Joel: You're almost a year now ish.
Thad: Yeah, almost a year. Yeah, about 10 months.
Joel: Okay. So the last time we spoke to you, you had made the transition from Jobs2Careers to Talroo.
Chad: New brand.
Joel: How has the new brand gone, better than you thought, about what you thought? Give us a state of Talroo a year later since last time we spoke.
Thad: It's been phenomenal. I mean, the move to Talroo from the perspective of what we're driving for customers, how the individual partners see us, it's really changed, right? In so many ways. In a lot of ways, there's a fixation that occurs with having a brand like Jobs2Careers, what products are you building? What products are you building to bring Jobs2Careers to people, right? And so by redefining a brand, we can restart the story, and redefining our brand has been great for us. And more importantly, restarting the story has been really focused on this kind of B2B product and the B2B service that we provide to recruitment professionals.
Chad: So tell us a little bit about that, because I mean, starting a new brand and getting into a new segment, entirely, right? Tell us about that journey. First and foremost, what made say we really have to change everything that's going on, and then jumping into that a nice cold water. How'd that feel?
Thad: Yeah. Well, at first it was ... whenever you make a decision like this, you have to weigh the risk and benefit, right? And so it was chilly when we really looked at it originally, it was like, okay, we've got a lot of brand equity built into Jobs2Careers. It's a job search engine. There are people that understand the idea of searching for jobs, how do people find jobs effectively? And from our perspective, it was what are we really investing in? And of course, this idea of talent attraction and creating a talent attraction platform that's more efficient at helping employers reach talent was really what drove us to this juncture. And so it's been great, and we continue to drive success for customers.
Thad: I think the big change that's happened in the industry in the last few years is that the right talent is out there, it's all around you, and it's up to us to help companies find that talent. And I think that's really important in driving everything that we do here.
Joel: And speaking of talent, you guys made a commitment about a year ago to bring on some, I guess I would call them heavy hitters in the recruiting industry. So talk about what that's meant to the business as well as sort of overall headcount and where you're growing and where you're looking at being say a year from now.
Thad: Yeah. We brought some amazing talent to the Talroo team, rounding out our executive team. We build our team members internally as well. A lot of investment here for our current team members. A number of our team members have been here over four years, over three years. They continually grow in their different roles. So that's been great for us. Cindy is heading up sales and service for us with years of experience, years of experience with the agencies, relationships,-
Joel: Cheap seats.
Thad: ... agencies with .... What'd you say?
Joel: She's back there in the cheap seats. She kinda watches everybody like she's the mom and makes everyone behaves themselves.
Chad: She like snuck in.
Thad: So as we engage with recruitment advertising agents, it becomes very important for us to ensure that we're driving their value and then driving the customer's value. So that's been phenomenal for us to be able to provide that success. And of course, Keith's been leading up our Talroo brand and building that brand and doing some really cool stuff like having you guys here today.
Joel: The coolest thing you've ever done, right? Obviously.
Chad: Super secret meeting people. Super secret meeting.
Joel: So what departments have you sort of ramped up? A year from now, what is headcount going to look like and what departments will see the most growth?
Thad: Yeah. We probably ramped up ... engineering is where we really invested heavily. So Tony leads our engineering team really focused around data and how to extract value from data. How do we scale our services and infrastructure? So last year, one of the things that was so different for us is we were growing so fast, we really needed to invest in our infrastructure. And so we did that in the last 12 months and that's proven to be very successful for us in so many different ways.
Thad: So, it's great to have, to be in a situation where you have to invest in your infrastructure to catch up with demand, and that's exactly what we did last year, and it's been great to be in a situation ... I mean, today we're powering over a billion job searches per month and it all leads to that idea of how do we find the talent wherever they are, and make it more efficient for employers.
Chad: That's big, but there's so much noise in this industry, right? How do you differentiate yourself? And coming out with a new brand, I think that makes it a little bit easier because you're not going in as the same old brand and trying to say, "No, we're not that anymore." So I get that, but how do you differentiate yourself now from all that noise that's out there? How do you cut through it?
Thad: Yeah. So I like to think of it like this, right? Years ago, there was this idea of ... and we've all heard it so many times, this idea of posting and praying, right? So people would post and pray that you receive the right applicant or the right hire. We like to think of it as post and produce, right? When someone invests with us and they engage in job advertising, our goal is to deliver a hire, right? It may be hard if you're looking for a doctor in Anchorage, that's hard, right? Or in some cases it may be hard if you're looking for a pizza delivery driver in Poughkeepsie, hard markets, right? But we give it a shot and we make sure that everything's working and everything is as efficient as possible.
Thad: So, I think the big thing to think about is that for years, job advertising has been this idea of a portal or a destination or brands, I said, a post and pray. So, you post a job on a destination. That is very, very different as it stands today, right? Indeed is the world's largest job search, right? The world's largest job search engine, and when you post, you're there, right? And people, that feels good, right?
Joel: But it depends on how much you're paying. But yeah.
Thad: Right. That's a good point. Cost is always one of those really interesting things. So in our world it's how do we find the unique audiences wherever they may be, because the idea of finding a job or attracting the right talent is bigger than a single destination or bigger than a single site. And I think that's the value that our platform brings and helps people find and mines those audiences where they may have never looked, right? And think of probably 10 years ago, 20 years, 25 years ago, it was monster job board, you Super Bowl ad, you know that kind of thought process, right?
Chad: Oh yeah.
Thad: Then you kind of had Indeed. Well, probably in the middle there you had Niche, right? So you had kind of dice and in niche networks. And so today, people feel good that they're posting on a niche site, right? And that it's going to provide a great candidate for them. And so our thought processes is if we could take all of these audiences in one platform and bring a niche approach to talent attraction wherever that actual candidate is, we can provide a lot of value. And that's exactly how we look at Talroo and how we look at this idea of a talent attraction platform and how all the audiences are in one system, and our goal is to target those.
Joel: Post and produce, Chad.
Chad: Post and produce.
Joel: I'll have to remember that one. Question about the branding piece maybe internally. So Jobs2Careers, well known as I guess, a job posting, job board kind of brand, and then moving over to Talroo, I think more of a technology, you mentioned, platform service. How was that handled internally? It's obvious a different sales person who can sell job postings and can sell technology. So, how was that handled here internally and was it difficult?
Thad: At the end of the day when customers engage with us, they provide a budget. So, with that level of engagement, that level in investment, they want hires. That's why you invest.
Thad: They want outcomes, right?
Chad: Yeah, not clicks, outcomes.
Thad: That's right. And in our business, if someone invests $3,000 or $5,000 a month or $10,000 a month, we should be able to provide them that outcome, right? For that level of investment. So whether it's clicks or whether it's cost per application or whatever it may be, there's the budget and the outcome is a hire, right? And I think that's why you see a lot of investment and a lot of companies that are going after this idea of a hire because that becomes very, very interesting and important as well.
Thad: So from your point, Joel, it really hasn't changed anything that we do today because it's still an outcome based business, and largely what happens is when customers find value, they end up investing even more. So we'll have customers that start with two or $3,000 a month, and by month six they increase to 10 to $12,000 a month. That happens a lot, right? When you find the right customer and you focus accordingly and you provide great service.
Chad: Well, that being said, taking a look at the advertising industry, right? And then the recruiting industry, two entirely different segments. Advertising, you go out and you say, "I want you to target," whether it's Facebook or Google or whatever it is, I don't know where it goes, I don't care where it goes, I just want you to be able to target these types of individuals and provide outcomes, qualified leads, right? Are you finding that it's hard from an education standpoint, to be able to talk to employers because they're going to say, where's my job going? Where's it going? Where can I see it? Where's it at? Versus a, don't worry about that. This is the magic of how the systems work. How do you get past that?
Thad: Yeah, good question. So we were chatting about this earlier today. The number one programmatic advertising platform today as Google, Facebook's number two, number three is Amazon. People don't really think of Google, unless you're in the advertising business, Google, Facebook, Amazon as programmatic systems, right? But there programmatic, and in our world, programmatic really just means being efficient, right? Are you efficiently investing my money and are you targeting the right people?
Thad: So in the advertising world, what happens is Google has signals, Facebook has signals, and from those signals, people say, "I'm looking to buy a house," and in Keller Williams or other real estate companies say, "I want to advertise to all those people looking to buy a house because I know the audience. I know the audience of these are the people that are looking to buy a house because of signals and everything that's happening behind the scenes." So in our world, we have a billion queries a month. Well, we know the people that are actually looking for a certain type of job. We know people that are looking for retail jobs. We know there are people that are looking for cashier jobs. We know people are looking for transportation jobs. So our goal should be to target to those people that are specific to them.
Chad: Is it also frequency though too because you know really how aggressive they're going after it?
Thad: Yeah, that's a good point. Frequency is very interesting, it is a very interesting topic. So from our standpoint, the industry is changing. We're seeing the change happen. In a lot of different roles, they've actually created talent attraction roles. So in a lot of talent acquisition and HR departments today, you actually will see talent attraction roles that are being created, and in some cases, those people have a lot of experience in traditional advertising. So is it happening? Could it be happening faster? Yes. But is it happening? Yes, it's happening. And I think that you're going to see more and more of this thought process because our job should be, there's a commitment to produce, there's a commitment to provide outcomes, and our job should be to invest and spend wisely where it makes sense, where we're producing those outcomes.
Joel: You mentioned Google, Facebook and Amazon which leads me to my next question. At least two of those made impact in the jobs world in a big way about two, three years ago. Google for Jobs came out, Facebook launched the ability to post jobs on their side as well, and we're even seeing little glimpses of Amazon getting into the job posting game. Talk about how those big Goliath companies have affected your business either for good or bad.
Thad: I haven't seen any impact as it stands today. I think Google has created a great opportunity where folks can advertise. I think that the biggest opportunity and kind of the Trojan horse for Google is probably Google Hire, right? If you think about it, that's very unique content, all of these applicant tracking systems they have. I think the last thing I remember seeing is there is, it three million businesses use G Suite? So these are three million people that you don't have to spend marketing dollars to, mostly small businesses, so that's very different. Today, we handle mid market enterprise and the conversations that we have with mid market enterprise is definitely different than what Google is providing. We're watching it, but I think that as I think of Google, Google does everything in scale, at scale, at scale. Like we advertise with Google, we have account representation at Google, but would an enterprise company have account representation at Google? I'm not sure. But I can tell you that we provide account representation and we provide great service. It's one of the things that provides a lot of value to our customers.
Thad: So I think that it'll be interesting to see the shift. Facebook is really looking for probably small businesses, right? Their entire business is really built on small businesses.
Joel: Trying to a kind of Craigslist.
Thad: Exactly. And Craigslist, right? Craigslist is a billion dollars, right?
Joel: Billion dollars, yeah.
Thad: There was a recent report saying it was a billion and mostly small businesses.
Joel: I put it on our show too.
Chad: Has anybody seen their site lately, because it's the same as it was like in the 90s.
Thad: I mean, they're the smartest of them all, right? 40, 50 people, right? It's
Joel: No investment capital, 50 employees, a billion dollar company. Pretty good.
Thad: Yeah, it's pretty good.
Chad: Back to Google real quick. We've seen many different job sites or are vendors actually tap into Google for Jobs to be able to really rejuvenate, in some cases, traffic. Have you guys been able to see traffic out of that? Do you work with Google? How does that work?
Thad: We work with Google as we advertise our brands in Google. We do not work with Google for Jobs today and one of the reasons why is we think there's a lot of strength in having a unique talent pool that we can provide to employers. So, from our perspective, that talent pool becomes very important for us long term. So where we think there's a lot of opportunity is that people are changing, there's a lot of focus around behavior, people are finding jobs in lots of different ways, and they're finding jobs beyond a site, they are interacting in so many different ways. So we're looking at how do we find and how do we attract talent in other areas.
Thad: A lot of companies in the past have been very dependent on sources, and so I think that it's up to us to find out how do we focus on other sources.
Joel: So, speaking of some news items, piggybacking on the Craigslist
announcement. There's been some news in our industry lately about sort of consolidation, acquisition. You recently probably heard that Jobvite sort of backed up the brinks truck and bought Canvas. You see Workday getting in bed with Beamery with a five million dollar investment. Do you watch these consolidations and acquisitions? Does it impact what you do or not? Or do you have a general sort of
commentary on what's going on in the industry with consolidation?
Thad: I think you're going to see more, I definitely think so. I think that as you walk the halls of HR tech, there are a lot of point solutions, right? A lot of point solutions that are heavily invested in a lot of ways, and I think that one of the investing philosophies is you either start at the top or you either start at the bottom, and what you're seeing is companies like iCIMS that have gained a lot of traction, raised a lot of money, they are at the bottom of the funnel. And as you look at iCIMS, I think you're going to see a focus around moving up, that's my prediction. As you look at other companies that are at the top of the funnel, I think you may see those companies move down, but I think it's hard otherwise because you either have to be the sourcing product and the sourcing solution or you have to be the compliance and applicant tracking solution.
Joel: Do you guys actively look at companies to acquire? I can't think of any acquisitions that you've made in your history.
Thad: We haven't made any acquisitions.
Joel: Are you looking to make some of those or is that something that you don't typically visit?
Thad: As we look at our strategy, our overall strategy, I think it could make sense in the future.
Joel: But no announcements you want to make today?
Thad: No announcements.
Chad: Dammit. Okay. So just the first part of this year, a major player, Indeed, actually kicked Staffing in the nuts and said, "Hey, look, you're no more free. You're going to start paying for stuff." You're reaching out, I would assume, you're reaching out to Staffing. What's your message to Staffing today? It doesn't have to be anti Indeed, that would be my message. But what's your message to Staffing because you know they're looking for ways to get the hell out, they are looking for exit strategies.
Thad: Yeah. And to your point, Indeed is a great product. It has provided value to the ecosystem.
Chad: I didn't say that but go ahead.
Thad: I'm saying that because they're a great product, they provide value to the ecosystem. Any company that provides value to the ecosystem deserves a seat at the table. So, I want to make that clear. From our standpoint, we think that there's a huge opportunity to deliver unique candidates and maybe unearthing these audiences that they're not currently attracting, right? So we think of how staffing firms generally provide value. The first way they provide value is I have to find candidates that the employer hasn't already seen. Without that, why do I need a staffing firm? Right? That's the key. I have to unearth these people. I have to find this opportunity and somebody else will find these candidates, and we provide that, right? We can provide that way for them to reach candidates that they may not have ever seen before because they're spending their time investing in resume databases, let's say, right? And so resume database is what we hear from our customers time and time again is, "I'm seeing the same candidates over and over." So we can provide unique candidates, that provides a lot of value for staffing firms.
Thad: The other thing is the idea of providing value around performance, this whole idea of post and produce, right? The ability to just provide a performance based product for them is something that's very different. So I think that becomes a way to provide additional value.
Chad: Now, do you feel like everybody needs to move down that road, because not everybody is right now on the performance side of the house?
Thad: I think it's based on the customer type. I think that there are customers, mid market customers, enterprise customers, staffing customers, good customers that we do a lot of work with, right? Because there's a whole new movement around customer acquisition and gigs, they understand it. They understand performance, they have goals, they're metrics driven. It's more like customer acquisition. Talent acquisition is more like customer acquisition that's very different. But for small businesses, craigslist is a billion dollars. Is it performance based? It actually is performance based, right? Because people are getting outcomes off of craigslist for $30, $50, $100.
Chad: But they won't be paying it again, right?
Thad: But they wouldn't be paying for it. I think as you look at this, we try to shoehorn performance based advertising into different customer types, but really, our job is to be a fulfillment engine. And I think if you actually look at some of the international players in job advertising, they understand that. They understand their job is to be a fulfillment engine. Whether it's performance based, it is performance based at the end of the day, right? Just not the delivery mechanism or the method of payment. So I think you're seeing that and you're going to constantly see more movement around that.
Thad: The international players that are very, very savvy and understand that
they're a fulfillment engine are the ones that are still doing very well.
Joel: Let's stick with Indeed for a second, and you have a very unique piece of real estate here in Austin, and a lot of our-
Chad: It's gorgeous by the way.
Thad: Thank you.
Joel: ... listeners won't realize that you could actually throw a rock from your front door and hit Indeed's Austin headquarters.
Chad: Joel did.
Joel: And to me, that would pose a ton of really interesting employment branding questions because I assume almost anyone here could walk out the door, go to Indeed and get a job because they have experienced at Talroo. I'm sure Indeed has the same situation. I'm sure you guys see them walking around with their, I help people get jobs, tee shirts and it's very aware that you guys are both here.
Joel: Has that been a recruiting ... like have you had to have a brand separate from their work environment to recruit? Is this a different work environment than theirs? And I guess just how did you guys strategize around how are we different as an employer from the guy who is right across the street and our competitor?
Thad: Yeah. We haven't had any recruiting issues or any items like that. I think that-
Joel: So no one has said, "Fuck this place," walked out and gone to Indeed?
Thad: That's right. We haven't had that-
Chad: No ideas are been given, okay?
Thad: ... or the other way.
Joel: He's writing it down, look.
Thad: As I look at the faces in the audiences here and I have conversations, we have a very different culture in that we're a small business, growing business, doing good work. And I'm not trying to simplify the message, right? And I think when you have a large company, it's a very different thought process, right? Austin, actually if you go to the airport and you'd fly into the airport, you won't see a franchise in Austin's airport. They're all, in most cases, locally owned Austin businesses.
Thad: It's because people in Austin, they believe in the Little Guy, right? They believe in kind of this idea of Austin, and focused on companies, and you'll see success stories like Torchy's Tacos and all these other businesses that have been very successful in Austin. And I like to think culturally, that's where we fit, right? We're the company that's growing, we're investing heavily in our people, we've had a lot of success, we're 100 strong, but we constantly provide a lot of value, and a lot of career opportunities, and everyone can make an impact. When we interview engineers, and we've been able to recruit engineers from large companies like IBM as an example, the number one thing we hear is, "I want to make an impact. I want to make an impact." When you're talking about a billion queries, you can make an impact, right? Every person matters. When you're talking about the number of clients that we have, every person matters so much. And that's so different.
Joel: So when can we expect the keep Talroo weird tee shirts?
Thad: I think we can have one sent to you maybe for the next show.
Joel: Okay, sounds great.
Chad: Can I take [crosstalk 00:25:27], medium XX0. Thanks. So industry wise, there's a lot going ... I mean, this is probably one of the most exciting times I believe in our industry.
Thad: I would agree.
Chad: So with all the startups and with everything that's going on, your vision, where do you see this industry actually going from here? There's so much noise, once again, right?
Chad: How do we cut through the clutter and say that's where it's going?
Thad: Well, the number one thing you hear is automation.
Thad: Automation becomes so important, right? Our automation that we provide customers is, "Hey, we scale up what works and we scale down what doesn't work for you automatically." Automation becomes very, very important, and they have other things to do. Recruiters should be recruiting not working on tasks that ...
Chad: Manual tasks.
Thad: Exactly. That should be automated. I think that's where you're going to see a lot of value with AI, right? In those tasks. Recruiting, we always say, "Don't take the human out of human resources," right? You see a lot of focus around AI and chatbots and things like that, you can't take the human out of human resources. And so from a recruiting standpoint, that probably should be, I think, that's where recruiters should spend their time, that human connection. These are the people that you're recruiting that are going to define your future. These people you're recruiting, they're going to define your company's future. Great people grow great companies. If you can't recruit the great people, you can't grow a great company. And I think that as you look at the industry, when you focus on automation and making it easier for people to find great people, you can build some great companies.
Chad: So you haven't read Circa 2118 yet, have you?
Chad: Peter Weddle's book.
Thad: No, I haven't read that. No.
Joel: I haven't either.
Thad: Yeah, I haven't read that.
Chad: Joel doesn't read.
Joel: I was curious from what you're saying from a macro level of what's going on in the US economy if you pin it on the global growth scene and where you see opportunities, any chinks in the armor maybe that you're seeing in terms of slowing growth? What sort of just your macro view on the economy in the US as well as outside of that?
Chad: That's a big question, literally macro.
Joel: I ask questions to produce.
Chad: Instead of pray.
Thad: So that is a big question. At the macro level, we're headed for softness at some point, right? We're repeating a business cycle. That's just how it goes. Now, I think what will happen in the labor market is there are headwinds in a labor market that we haven't seen before. A great example is the gig economy. There are people working today in the gig economy that would probably have to have a traditional job three years ago. So if the economy, from a labor market perspective as the economy slows, and inventories increase and the economy slows, from a labor market, I think from what I can tell, the labor market is isolated because people are always going to need good people, right? Then you think of the hiring of high volume, right? You think of high volume hire.
Thad: Companies like Uber, Lyft and others, Instacart, they're filling a huge void right now. So even if the labor market, let's say that the economy slows, there's less hiring at the retail level, cashier level, well, people still need people and there's a certain type of talent there. I will tell you, we did a little bit of research, we produced a book last year around ... our first published book about high volume hiring, right? And we were thinking about this as we were working with the team on it and we said, "What's really changed?" And I gave a little story of how at my local Home Depot, I walked into my home depot and I said, "How's the automation of checkout going to change how many people Home Depot hires?" Right? I'm like, "Is this really going to change?"
Joel: Is it Home Depot that has the automated janitors that sweep the
Chad: I believe so.
Joel: I think so. So they're seeing automation in their stores.