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EUROPE: Move Over Paradox, Here Comes Ava & Manuel AI



The Dutch Trump is something we never thought would be uttered on our podcast, yet here we are. This episode of The Chad & Cheese Podcast (Does Europe) starts with a lesson in European politics and the rise of mini-Trumps around the in places like Italy, France and, yes, Holland. That's followed by a breakdown of recent tech news, including London-born startup Artisan and it's AI, named Ava, raising funds, Ukraine's Jooble quietly winning and Spain's Manuel making moves on Paradox's Olivia (Is she interested? We discuss.) Then it's off to startup land where companies are refocused on retention and pay equity in light of higher interest rates and a dead IPO market. From there, it's off to Deutschland where a recession has led Europe's largest economy to rethink immigration ... assuming you're the "right" kind of immigrant, of course. Chad opines that "there's too many stupid humans" in the world. He's not talking about our listeners, of course. Enjoy this wunderbar episode.


PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION sponsored by:


[music]


Chad: Hide your kids, lock the Doors. You're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman 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.


[music]


Joel: Oh, yeah, three guys who look amazing in lederhosen. You are listening to the Chad and Cheese podcast Does Europe. I'm your co-host, Joel, stuck in second Geert Cheeseman.


Chad: And this is Chad "Blame the Dutch" Sowash.


Lieven: I'm Lieven, making public affairs sound like fun, Van Nieuwenhuyze.


[laughter]


Joel: And on this episode, move over Paradox. Retention is in and Germany wants you. Let's do this. What's up, boys?


Chad: What is up? It's time to blame the Dutch, kids.


Joel: Don't steal my thunder Sowash I got a shout-out. I got a shout-out. I'm sure it'll 'cause some conversation. I'll mispronounce this, Geert Wilders, it looks like Geert Wilders, for those Americans.


Chad: Yes. That's a much better movie.


Joel: The media is calling him The Dutch Trump, and he's in a good position to become Holland's next prime minister. He's well known for his strong anti-immigration, anti-Islam and Euro skepticism. The Netherlands would join Italy, Germany and France, and also Argentina, although it's not in Europe, embracing a more right wing nationalistic position. That's all happened in the past few years. Wilders secured 25% of the Vil, which is a lot, apparently, so he'll have to play nice with other parties to become the prime minister. But what do I know? I'm just an American. Lieven, please enlighten us on the Dutch Trump.


Lieven: Yeah. Enlightening is something he needs. Okay. Geert Wilders is the head man of a party called PVV Part Vryheid, Party for Freedom. And he's been in parliament for over 25 years. He's pretty, he's experienced. But now what is a problem? They have to find capable people to fill in those seats because they don't have... Nobody who is in his right mind is going to openly admit he's promoting Geert Wilders.


[laughter]


Chad: Well, nobody who's decent would actually join that party in the first place, is what I'm hearing.


Lieven: Definitely not. And they would never admit it. Some people I'm sure will vote because deep inside they are against Islam or against whatever, but they would never, not many people would tell it to their friends even that they voted for PVV.


Joel: Ireland had some shit go down this week.


Lieven: Also right wing extremists, people burning whatever they [laughter] could burn. Yeah.


Chad: You gotta love how these movements like the Party for Freedom is nothing less than, there's no freedom.


Lieven: Nothing at all. [laughter]


Chad: At all. It's like in the US we had Citizens United, which literally was nothing but corporations. [laughter] It's like, none of this shit makes sense. The question is, does he have a chance to actually become prime minister? Because the votes are transparent; you have to know who voted. Or can they actually vote behind closed doors for prime minister?


Lieven: Most European countries, it's like this. The party who wins the elections, they get the chance to first try to make a coalition with other parties to get some kind of majority and then they can agree on who's going to be the prime minister. And I thought the second party, VVD it's called, was going to make a deal with Geert Wilders' party. And the deal could be Geert Wilders would say, I'm going to to settle down a bit and I'm going to be a bit more demographic... No, democratic, democracy. Yeah. And then if you join me, and then we can have a majority, and then you can become the prime minister because nobody would accept Geert Wilders as a prime minister, but VVD decided we don't want to work with him. We're going to, we want to join the coalition. Now it's a problem because he only has 37 seats and he's the biggest party, but it's only 37. Now he has to find people who are willing to work with him and I don't think it will happen. So he probably will never become a prime minister, even though he would love to.


Joel: Has this come to Portugal yet, Chad, has this trend come to Portugal?


Chad: I think the trend is everywhere. You have far right people all over the place. But the Portuguese, because we are in the beautiful country of Portugal where everything is wonderful, it's just not as bad, it's just not as bad. But yeah, this happens everywhere.


Joel: Interesting times in Europe, for sure.


Chad: Do you have a shout-out, Lieven?


Lieven: Yeah, my shout-out goes to VDAB, which is the Flemish Department of Labor and they have a job board, the vdab.bejobboard. And according to a survey done by Intelligence Group, VDAB is the biggest job board in Flanders beating both LinkedIn and Indeed, so they should be sponsoring my congress now, because our congress, House of HR's congress, because we only work with the best. And since they are the biggest, I'll contact them.


Joel: They are the biggest.


[music]


Chad: That's hilarious. We're talking about events. Next week, I'm gonna be in London for TA Tech happening on Tuesday and Wednesday where I will be MCing the event with Kirsty Kelly. People in the room will be guys like Matt, that British guy Alder, Hong our favorite porn star Lee, the lovely and talented Julie Sowash, Death Match winner, Andrea Wade and a list of other smart and talented people. If you're in the UK or oh shit, maybe you can hop on a quick flight to London. Go to chadcheese.com and register. It's gonna be a great event. Plus Cheeseman, this is where you're gonna get envious, my friend. We are scheduled to have and record a multi podcast episode in a proper English pub.


Joel: Whoa.


Chad: A few hours before the reception with Alder, Hong Lee, Julie, Chris, Murdoch, James Whitlock, and myself. We'll be dropping that in the holiday stream sometime soon.


Joel: Did you say, did you say Hong Lee?


[laughter]


Joel: By the way. Didn't a certain Scot in our lives have some big news this week?


Speaker 4: Welcome to all things Scottish. Of course it is, if it's no Scottish, it's crap!


Chad: Oh he did. Yeah, and I guess it's public now. So Stephen McGrath with this little baby ginger girl, and he's assuring us it's gonna be a ginger girl, [laughter], and yeah, so he's home with Natasha as long as she will have him until she kicks his ass out of the door to go back to work again. So we're really, really excited for him and that little baby girl.


Joel: Rumor is he's spiking the bottle with Aberfeldy. I don't know if that's true or not, but hey, I wouldn't put it out of the realm of possibility.


Chad: She's Scottish. I think that's normal.


Joel: [laughter] It's already running through the blood, so why not put it in the liver while you're at it? Holy shit. Happy. Congratulations, Steven. The world couldn't use a better sperm donor than you, my friend.


Chad: Our favorite Scot, yes. Topics!


Joel: Alright, we got a tech block out of Europe this week.


Chad: Hello.


Joel: Let's get on three stories and we will comment appropriately. First up, Artisan has raised $2.3 million to create human-like digital workers launching artisans like Ava, a sales rep, automating tasks while aiding human workers. Founded by a 22-year-old CEO from London, they claim to have 3000 users, and that's all in just the first six months of launch. Chad, what's your take on Artisan?


Chad: So Ava, this AI sales rep's gonna have access to 265 million contacts, which she can just blast and start the cold calling process, the cold outreach process. I think Artisan is smart to start with sales because that's where most of the massive budgets reside. Sales leaders should be expected and excited about this tech because as a guy with sales background myself, prospecting and cold calling takes a ton of time away from the actual dollar-making sales activities. So actually talking to interested humans with problems, this gives sales reps the time to better research companies and then engage in meaningful conversations, opening up that wallet even further and doing more of what you should be doing as a salesperson. We talk about this in recruiting, all the minuscule, the kinda tasks that are happening that take you away from the actual human interaction.


Chad: That's what I think Artisan is doing here. The cool thing, onboarding only takes about 10 minutes with a back and forth conversation. So you're actually having a conversation with the AI, for the integrations itself to talk about domain specific skills required for Slack, Teams, and integrations to HubSpot, Salesforce, MailChimp and others. So I can see, and I will predict that in 2024, we will definitely see companies using these co-pilots as SDRs and co-pilots for sales. So, they're also gonna have Noah, the AI designer, and Liam, the AI marketer that are gonna be coming out in 2024. So...


Joel: All good English names for those chat bots.


S?: Alright.


Joel: So my man is 22, he's straight out of like casting for the next...


Chad: Love it.


Joel: Nolan film about, you know, tech. They got accepted to Y Combinator, which accepts 1% I think of startups. So right there you got a story made out of Hollywood, right? Like 22-year-old founder. And by the way, this guy is, you know, good looking. There's some topless photos. He's a guy, so it's all good. So I mean, he's like kind of sexy. He's British, he's young, he's got this cool tech startup. They moved to San Francisco. Y Combinator, like everything is going right for this company. They got a PhD on the other side of the co-founder equation. It's a great start. I mean it's from, what I read it's all email based at the moment which, how many of us get spam emails from "salespeople," quite a few of us on a regular basis.


[laughter]


Joel: Now it can have a conversation via email where it answers and has a back and forth, which at some point I assume goes to a human being to actually close the sale or get the contract signed. Companies like Air, air.ai, which we've talked about actually will call people in terms of having a conversation. So there are companies in my view that are way ahead of where this is going. Artisan is at a good place, but they need to get to voice really quickly. They need to get to text really quickly, which assuming, with Y Combinator's help and funds, they will do. But this has the undertones of a really cool story in our space, because this guy is straight out of central casting for a startup.


Chad: But do you think, I mean, adoption for a voice that you know is not human is going to be, is gonna be good, especially on the sales side? I think like for a candidate, because they just want interaction in the first place, companies are getting way too much fucking interaction from salespeople as it is. [laughter] So I don't want calls all the goddamn time from salespeople. So I mean, I think it's almost like a difference in industry and also who you're trying to use this outreach for. So I agree with you there are some that are ahead of them, but I'm just not sure on the adoption curve if Air is gonna make it happen or not with voice.


Joel: I mean, time will tell. I mean Air sounds really human. It's not like you're talking to a robot on the phone. Now there is, like Tesla does this, Apple does this, some big companies do this. Now it's on the consumer side, so it's not a B2B transaction, which is what, you know, you may or may not be looking at with Artisan. So I guess time will tell whether buyers on the corporate enterprise side of the house will be like, whatever, and hang up, or if they'll actually have conversations. I think they'll get more human sounding.


Joel: People may test them, have fun with, oh, let's see if this is really robot, and like test it with questions. Just like the people in Walmart with bats that will beat up a robot janitor, people will have fun with this. Will it work? I think the sad truth is sales in our space is a numbers game. Like, if you're not making a 100 calls a day outbound, it's really hard to make a difference in a company. And startups, if I'm a startup in this space or any space, and I can have a software that will email hundreds of people on millions of users, in terms of leads, would I do that if it's a lot cheaper than hiring an STR or a sales person? Yeah, I'm gonna do that. Now, if after six months I got nothing, then I gotta go back to plan B or go back to plan A. But a lot of companies are gonna start the sales process with this automation solution, and I guess time will tell as to whether it'll work or not.


Chad: Are you gonna equip your staff with it over there at house of HR Lieven?


Lieven: Already doing it, I think. But it's a very interesting concept, Artisan, I liked it and I'm a big believer of the whole hybrid teams concepts. I think in the very near future, teams will consist of both people and robots. And you'll have to manage both and make sure they work together. This Artisan concept with launching bots like Ava now for sales, but they will haves several personas doing different things, they actually are first step towards that hybrid team concept. I love it. And actually they seem to have the right background. I mean, and the sexy CEO who's 22. If it was only him, I would have my doubts, but the CTO has a PhD in astrophysics from Oxford University. So this combination could be cool. I mean, a young guy, who's really enthusiastic and who probably has great ideas. And then a CTO who's been around and who has a...


Chad: Grounds him.


Lieven: And then those two forces working together might actually achieve something. And I read they will participate in the Y Combinators winter batch, meaning that's where Sam Altman came from, Y Combinators. So, I think they're circulating in the right circles.


Joel: Yeah. Interestingly, recruiting was not one of the verticals that they're getting into, Chad, that you mentioned, Liam and others...


[overlapping conversation]


Joel: But the opportunity in our space to put retargeting code on an ATS for someone who's already applied, to see them come back to the site and then contact them in this fashion is gonna be huge. I don't know of companies doing it.


Chad: I agree.


Joel: But there will be somebody that figures out that process and it'll be huge, for sure.


Chad: Yeah. HR needs bigger budgets. I mean, we deserve it in the first place. Recruiting deserves it in the first place, that should be happening. I agree 100%. But they're going after the big cash first, which is sales, obviously, and marketing.


Joel: Oh, for sure. Market and sales. Yeah. There's, there's money in them, in them hills to start this thing up. Well, that's not the end of our tech news...


S?: Another one.


Joel: Out of Europe. Ukrainian job search platform Jooble has made an investment in Treaz Work, a service that facilitates the outsourcing of hiring freelance recruiters. The investment amount has not been disclosed, but the platform currently has over 800 registered recruiters and more than 500 daily users. Chad, what's your take on the move by Jooble?


Chad: So, Jooble must be making a lot of money off of paid ads and arbitrage in East Europe. So good for them. That's awesome. 'Cause this is their, like their second, their second or third time they've actually invested. Tarah's Work is a freelance marketplace, and they're trying to penetrate more of Western Europe labor types of positions like rigor, mechanic, electricians, chefs, drivers, security guards, people who cannot be remote workers, which I thought was interesting. So I originally thought Tarah's work would be an SME player for companies with smaller recruiting staffs and smaller recruiting budgets. But those two just don't quite jive in my head. So I was thinking Lieven's gonna know more about this than we do, and you've forgotten more about this than we know, Lieven. So, would SMEs recruit talent from Eastern Europe into Western Europe? Or is this literally just a play for larger brands and companies?


Lieven: It's always kind of difficult to move those people from Eastern European countries and to integrate them in western European countries. So it's mostly done by bigger companies who have, who can facilitate this. But there are plenty of companies who are doing this for SMEs. We, for example, in the Netherlands, have a company called Covebo, and they specialize in hiring and training people from Eastern European countries, mostly with skilled blue collar workers within construction. And they retrain them to work in western European countries and also at SMEs. So there's definitely a need, but those SMEs can't do it by themselves. So they're helped by people like Covebo doing the hassle for them.


Chad: Do they become their employer of record? Does Covebo become their employer of record, or do they just...


Lieven: Yeah.


Chad: Okay, okay. So they're like an EOR company for skilled labor. That's really, really interesting.


Lieven: And in the Netherlands, they even provide housing.


Chad: Ah, smart.


Lieven: They facilitate everything. Yeah.


Joel: Yeah. Send them to Chad's Airbnb in Portugal if you ever run out of room in... Like you mentioned, Chad, Jooble's like a secret success over in Europe. I mean this acquisition, it's their third...


Chad: During a war. They're in Kyiv.


Joel: That's my other point. But they acquired JJ an online edtech company and Adsy, a recruiting ad service. Their leadership team outside of their PR guy who's from Sweden, apparently, they're all in Kyiv or Ukraine. That's incredible based on what's going on in Ukraine right now. So big applause for them for all that. But...


[applause]


Joel: If you're looking for ways to donate money indirectly to Ukraine, put some money in Jooble, promote some jobs. They've got other companies that they're working with, like there's a company to support in the world in our space outside of Jooble, some Israeli companies that we've talked about on the show, TaTiO, HiBob, ZipRecruiter, etcetera. The fact that this company is still rocking in the heart of Ukraine...


Chad: Oh yeah.


Joel: Is just really cool. Really cool.


Chad: Yeah. It's inspiring. I mean it really is.


Joel: Totally, totally.


Lieven: It's amazing. Life goes on even during a war and business goes on.


Joel: That's a good point. We Americans at least, we're so pampered and cushy and plump and fat. We don't think about some countries just are used to crazy shit going down. I guess Eastern...


Chad: We're protected by oceans.


[laughter]


Joel: Eastern Bloc might be one of those sectors. Well, that's not the end of our tech breakdown, guys. Let's talk about someone else.


S?: Another one.


[automated voice]


Joel: Let me get to my notes real quick. Alright, Move Over Paradox. An AI driven chatbot named Manuel based in Madrid and led by some HR pros has developed a chatbot out of the company named HR Bot Factory. They've helped deliver a major recruiting effort to a Spain company at the tune of 3200 seasonal workers during peak season. The company has secured 1 million Euros in funding, that was earlier this year, and they generate income exceeding €500,000 back in 2022. Chad, what's your take on Manuel by HR Bot Factory? Not to be confused with CNC Music Factory.


Chad: HR Bot Factory. It does sound pretty cool, especially if you do know CNC Music Factory. But seriously, it's just a basic candidate application flow chatbot, I mean the kind of stuff that Paradox and Talkpush do in their sleep. Now, I'm not sure where the AI comes in or is needed here, but since everything today comes with a side of AI, I guess we shouldn't be surprised. Anyway, I say good luck, but this seems like a chatbot pitch that we heard from about seven years ago. So I'm gonna give this an eight out of 10 on the yawn factor.


[laughter]


Joel: How are you gonna buzzkill our final tech story? Gonna make you sweat till you bleed, Sowash.


[laughter]


Chad: Sorry guys.


Joel: Yeah. If Paradox hasn't acquired these guys already, maybe they should just for the talent and the footprint. Because they apparently are in a lot of different countries. If you look at their website, they've got little pins in South America, throughout Europe, etcetera. So if they have some sort of client base that can be turned onto some real tech like Paradox is slinging, that could be a real opportunity for them. You'll remember Paradox bought Spetz out of Israel back in '21, so it's about time for them to acquire another European company. So hey, Paradox, get in that couch, get some loose change and go buy...


[laughter]


Joel: Go buy Manuel, which is a pretty sexy chatbot name at least.


Chad: I think Aaron will just want to crush them.


[laughter]


Joel: Probably, probably. No clue what Paradox's footprint is in Europe. It's probably not bad. Do you run into Paradox in Europe, Lieven, chatbots?


Lieven: Nope.


Joel: No.


[laughter]


Chad: What about Sewer?


[laughter]


Lieven: Okay, Sewer. Sewer. Just having some technical issues, but I'm fixing them as we speak.


Joel: We can hear you and you can hear us. So that's...


Lieven: Okay.


Chad: Building the plane in flight. Yes.


Lieven: Okay.


Joel: Lieven has a whole studio, by the way. Chad and I have like a mic plugged into the computer.


[laughter]


Lieven: Yeah. But need to make up for everything else I lack. So okay, chatbots, we were talking about chatbots, right?


Chad: Yes.


Joel: European chatbots.


Lieven: And it was Sewer. Was it Sewer? I twas Sewer. I think until one year ago or something, when talking about AI and chatbots, I always thought about very artificial and hardly intelligent. But now with everything based on ChatGPT, it's getting really intelligent and it sounds really... It doesn't sound artificial anymore. So I think recruitment using bots as a proven concept, but suddenly it became more effective, I think, and I'm a believer, I think it will work. And I kind of like the name where... Were we talking about Manuel before I had those issues?


Joel: Manuel, yes.


Lieven: Manuel, you know Fawlty Towers in the US? No? A television series by John Cleese. No? You know John Cleese?


Joel: Fawlty Towers sounds like a great name for a business. Yeah. I'm gonna buy some Fawlty Towers. [laughter]


Lieven: It was the name of a hotel, Fawlty Towers. And there was one waiter working there, his name was Manuel. And he was famous for the quote, "I know nothing. I'm from Barcelona," so whatever went wrong, he knew nothing because he was from Barcelona and he was working in the United Kingdom in a hotel called Fawlty Towers. But the fun part was in the whole of Europe, this was a very popular series, and everyone knew Manuel and everyone, if you said, "I know nothing," they would answer, "I'm from Barcelona," but only in Spain the name Manuel was changed to Pablo. And Pablo came from Naples, Napoli, because the Spanish people here they didn't really saw the fun in Manuel. Okay, so but this is totally irrelevant, just came up. Anyways we were talking about chatbots.


S?: Does anyone notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!


Lieven: Manuel. Okay, please go on.


[laughter]


Chad: Yeah, I'm gonna go with a Hogan's Heroes reference, and that's Sergeant Schultz, who, I know nothing, I know nothing, I know nothing.


Joel: Absolutely. Lieven's gotta stop pounding the Belgian brews when we record this podcast.


Lieven: The Belgian brews.


Joel: Let's take a quick break and talk a little European startup tech hiring. We'll be right back. All right guys, let's talk startup tech hiring. A new report on European tech startups from Ravio indicates a shift from hiring surges to a focus on retention, highlighting decreased hiring rates by nearly 40% to 50%. Yikes. The report says startups are retaining talent through increased salaries, addressing gender pay gaps and promoting equitable work environments. Why is this happening? The survey cites economic pressures such as ballooning interest rates. The report stresses the need for non-cash incentives, like, shocker, equity. Chad, what's your take on the news on startup in the tech space?


Chad: So this is coming out of an article from tech.eu, and let's focus on the byline here for a minute, "In response to market conditions, European startups are increasingly focusing on employee retention and pay equality." When times are good and money is flowing, good business practices always suffer. When talent is abundant, companies feel like they have license to treat their people like shit, because talent can easily be replaced. But when times are tight, money isn't flowing so freely, talent isn't as easy to come by, attrition is killing overall productivity, business starts the, "Our employees are the greatest asset bullshit." So this is just a normal cycle of business. And sitting back to watch it over and over is fucking maddening at times. This should be a specific business problem that is taught in business schools. Then there's the pay equity and representation problem that plagues businesses as well, that was in this article. If women are doing the same work and not receiving equal pay, it's going to be harder to retain them. If women are only seen as a low percentage of leadership roles in a company, why would any woman want to stay? Why would any female want to stay? So more business problems that I don't believe we tackle early stage of learning with whether it's startups, whether it's in university or what have you. So this to me, has nothing to do with hiring. It has to do with just shitty leadership and shitty business products or processes.


S?: 60% of the time, it works every time.


Joel: So, I look at this primarily from a, I guess, macro economic perspective. So when a lot of these startups, or when startups in general in the past few years have been founded, they've been flush with cash, money is free, the IPO market was open and available to startups. That's really turned around. So the appeal to get the best and the brightest to come to your company isn't shares of... Isn't stock options and a payday during, for an IPO or a big acquisition, they gotta come up with something better. And if they can't hire because their salaries aren't better than big tech companies can pay, then they gotta spin it as equity. They gotta spin it as we'll retain you and keep you in some form or fashion. Like, here's how we're gonna do it.


Joel: Whether it's better work environments or better flexibility, that depends on the startup, but they can't just rely on shares of stock, they can't just rely on a big payday to attract the best people. So when those people leave or there's a threat to leave, well, we got to retain them better. I think the pay equity thing is PR for the most part. It's like, hey, let's just throw in pay equity. Let's keep the women we have. The study also showed, I think, a fairly decreased amount of salary for women at these companies. So they're actually just getting to equal from where they are, which is pretty far down. So they are making a difference there, but I think a lot of it's PR, we'll keep you by paying you what you're worth.


Joel: Oh, gee, thanks. That's really nice of you to do that. Also a big problem is the down rounds, which we don't see with private companies, but the shares of stock that these people had with down rounds and revaluing these companies, some of these stock options are underwater. They're worth nothing because of the revalue of the company. Not everyone is open AI. No one's revaluing at $87 billion or whatever it is. So these startups have to be creative. Good on them to actually think about retention and how we keep people and paying women fairly. That's a luxury you didn't have to deal with when money was free. Now you have to deal with it. Yeah. Congratulations. Yeah, this is...


Chad: They don't give a shit when everything's good. That's the thing. It's like you always have to think about this.


Joel: Yeah. Inflation, competitive marketplace, big companies with a lot of money, like, welcome to the world. Yeah. Lieven?


Lieven: For it to be stupid from my point of view to promote retention. I think you should constantly hire new people and preferably through us. But these days, it's not like you can open a can with potential candidates and they will just jump out. You have to find something to attract them and also to keep them, of course. And I think being part of an equity program definitely works for us. At House of HR we have over 300 people who are part of some kind of long-term investment scheme, or a plan, a scheme doesn't sound right, long-term investment plan.


Chad: Scheme, yeah, bad word choice. Yeah, plan.


Lieven: But it's a lost in translation, a long-term investment plan, and that definitely helps to keep people involved. They all say something like, as a small shareholder, I don't think this is a good idea. And it's funny, but it's a way to keep people involved. And also, of course, it's a nice bonus if everything turns out right. And people won't leave if they have something to look forward to. So I do believe in equity and giving people a fair share of the profits.


Joel: Lieven, did you see many people or any people leave when Bain came in and made such a move to acquire so many shares of the company? Or was it like, oh, we're coming in and the promise is an even bigger payout at some certain point? So retention has been easy at House of HR, I'm guessing.


Lieven: It became easier. It's never easy, of course. I mean, but it became easier and people definitely did not leave because Bain bought them. But there was a big long-term investment plan and it paid off when Bain entered and then there was a new one. So, even if the company grows, everyone can grow with the company, which is something personally I love. Many companies have many different ways to motivate people, but in the end, money is always important. And there is a certain moment where a few thousand euros more doesn't make much difference. But for normal people, it does make a difference. It's a difference between having an extra holiday or just being able to pay the bills.


Joel: Yeah. 'Cause Europeans need more holidays.


Lieven: Some European countries.


Chad: Yeah, them living their lives just suck, Cheeseman. Yeah, it's horrible. Man, I don't know why we do that.


Joel: Politically, it's kind of dicey right now. Like immigration, what countries will let people in, how hard is it to get people in, I think that's gonna play into it as well. Which takes us into our next story out of Germany, everybody. So Europe's largest economy, AKA Germany has relaxed regulations for non-EU nationals seeking employment, emphasizing a shortage of skills With the current pool of candidates. Revised legislation effective from November 18th Facilitates residency for those with a university degree and a job offer, lowering the income threshold to around 44,000 euros annually. Specific fields like STEM require earnings of approximately 40,000 euros. IT specialists without a degree need three years' experience. Permanent residence permits can be obtained In as little as 21 months With German language proficiency, ja. The changes aim to aid international companies In recruiting skilled workers and bolster German competitiveness. Studies reveal that most EU Blue Card holders, which I'm guessing is the equivalent of the Green Card in America, Lieven can enlighten me on that one, they tend to stay longer term. So there's more incentive to get them into the country. Chad or Lieven, what are your thoughts on Germany's move to get some brain power back into the country?


Lieven: I think it's the only way, I mean, we need the people. And the whole population's aging. So we're going to have a big problem within 10 years if we don't find new, to say it's a new blood to keep us young. So I think this is the way to go. And this is exactly the opposite of what they are proposing in the Netherlands. The party we were just talking about from Geert Wilders actually is trying to stop labor immigration. It's the total opposite. And I think in this case, Germany is right.


Chad: Yeah, I don't know if this is the answer to what the real problem is. But I know it's not more people. And I'll give you an example here in a minute. I'm a huge fan of immigration because it brings culture, new ideas, productivity. Although we need to start talking about sustainability first. And growing Germany's population is not sustainable. I'm going to give you an example That I think everybody will understand. It's comparing Germany to California, the US's best producing state, so stick with me. So we have to take a look at literally the size of the country. So by landmass, Germany is about 350,000 square kilometers. California is bigger, 423, almost 424,000 square kilometers. By population, Germany's population is 83 million people. California's is 34 million people. That's a huge fucking difference. By GDP, Germany's GDP is 4.4 trillion. California's is 3.8 trillion, right behind them, they're one state in the US. California has almost a third of the size of the population of Germany. California has bigger landmass, about by 75,000 square kilometers. This is not a people equation. It's a revenue generating equation. Population growth in Germany and most places in Europe is not just, it's not sustainable.


Chad: And Lieven, this one's for you, my friend. Belgium is only about a third of the size of Indiana land mass-wise, and that's where Joel and I both live. And yet, Belgium has twice the population of Indiana. There are already too many fucking people in Indiana, okay? I cannot imagine why, why all these European countries are so pissed off because they have too many fucking people. It's too crowded, it's not sustainable. So to be able to say that we have to grow population, I think is just maddening, to be quite frank. We have to think a different way to actually ensure that, again, take a look at Germany. Germany has 83 million people, 83 million. So that's a hell of a lot more than California's 34 million. And California is making just about as much GDP as Germany. There's a different problem here and this is not gonna solve it. More people's not gonna solve it.


Joel: If only Hitler's Lebensraum campaign would have panned out, then they would have had plenty of land. This is why they don't grow almonds and wine in Germany.


Lieven: By the way, I think in Indiana your gardens are just too big.


Chad: They could be, but we don't have as many people. [chuckle]


Joel: Well, it's interesting, I mean, Americans don't consider, Europe is like half the land mass and twice the people as America. So that's why they have trains. US trains don't make sense because you gotta go long ways to...


Chad: High-speed trains would make sense, but go ahead.


Joel: Yes.


Lieven: Only a few lines, of course.


Joel: Elon's boring company will save us from that.


Chad: Hyperloop.


Lieven: I agree, I mean, one of the... The guy who won the Dutch election, his slogan even was, "The Netherlands are full. And according to what Chad is saying, he's right. I mean, there are so many people. But if you want to keep our potential growths, if we want to keep it, then we need the people to do the work, to pay all those pensions for those who have been working for the past 40 years. So if you want to keep the current system intact, we need new people. And since we don't make them like our Scottish friend is doing, then we need to say it may be rudely, important. The problem is in the Netherlands, for example, there is a housing shortage. Houses are becoming extremely expensive. For normal people it's becoming impossible to buy a house, definitely not in the popular regions. And those people say, if we import 300,000 new people, that's 300,000 new houses, which make it even harder for the...


Chad: Again, that's why we don't need more people.


Joel: Germany wants the "right people." They want they want educated people who make a lot of money and can buy stuff and can pay taxes and can support the aging population.


Lieven: Of course.


Joel: The immigrants they don't want, they don't want, so it's like have our cake and eat it too.


Chad: That's always been the case. That's always been the case with Germany.


Lieven: But not only with Germany, I mean with the whole of Europe right now. This is why extreme right is gaining so much because the social system is going to collapse if we just open the gates to, Let's say the whole of Africa.


Chad: So, is AI the answer? That's the question, we need less people...


Joel: It might be!


Chad: We need less people...


Lieven: Definitely.


Chad: We need to generate more revenue and that revenue goes back into the system to pay for the old people. That's what I'm saying. The construct that we're talking about right now, the economic construct we're talking about right now is a 1920s construct. It's much like when inflation rises. What do we do? We raise the interest rates. That's the stupidest fucking thing I've ever heard of in my life. It's a 1920s construct. We need to be thinking differently about how economics can work. They don't have to be the 1920s version.


Joel: And in 1920 people lived to be 65, which is why the retirement age is around 65. Unfortunately people are living longer, but they still need care.


Chad: Eighty-one is the life expectancy in Germany.


Joel: And now, by the way, Europe's paying more for their defense, which means more in taxes to pay for bombs and tanks. So who's gonna pay for that? It's not people that are retired. It's young people that are paying for the retired and paying for the new stuff. So it's like, how do we balance this to keep our way of living so our politicians can stay can stay in business? And so it's this really incredibly difficult balancing act and...


Chad: It is...


Joel: Like Lieven talked about the demographics. It's gonna, like it's gonna be so top-heavy with old people, that young people aren't gonna be around. So you either produce more people, have more sex, which sounds like a great solution to me, but apparently young people don't agree. And number two is you either let immigrants in...


Lieven: I'm sure they have lots of sex, but they use birth control.


Joel: I don't know what's going on. Talk to Steven, he knows how to do it. And I think all of us on this call know how to do it too. But anyway, I digress. So it's either, have more sex and more people, have immigrants, which they're trying to like, let's have the right immigrants, but not the wrong kind of immigrants.


Lieven: That sounds...


Joel: Or you become more productive. To Chad's point, the economy comes such that you needs fewer people to produce more goods and consume more shit. And so it could be a balance of all that, it could be one or the other. We just don't know about productivity and AI as to where that'll be the the panacea or not.


Chad: I don't know if that's gonna be the panacea. I just know that creating more stupid humans is not a panacea.


Joel: We have no other choice at the moment.


Chad: We have plenty of choices. We just don't... We just don't choose.


Joel: Yeah. We cane pull the plug on the old people and say you're on your own. There's no health, there's no Medicare, there's no like, there's no safety net and in a 100 years, it'll balance itself.


Chad: Or we can make sure that CEOs aren't making like 1500% more than everybody else. I mean, there are things that we can do. It's not just one thing. We don't just pull the plug on one factor.


Joel: Well, you can tax the rich more to support that, I guess, you could...


Chad: There's that. There's that.


Lieven: In this case, it's not a money thing. It's just a people thing. I mean, which is the...


Chad: It is a money thing because you got to pay for those people who are living 20 years longer than what they did in the 1920s.


Lieven: One out of six active people are having a job in care right now in the Netherlands, because all those people becoming older demographics. We're going to need one out of four people, but we also need those people to work in IT. We also need them to become a fire agent, etcetera. So we we just need more people to do all the jobs which need to be done and mostly within health care.


Joel: Or you need more robots to take blood pressures and...


Chad: We need Jedi robots, is what we need. We watch Star Wars, get...


[overlapping conversation]


Lieven: We have to make choices, for real.


Joel: As soon as the Amazon robots are filled, all the warehouses are filled up, they can start caring for the for the elderly.


Lieven: We'll see. We'll see.


Joel: Which by the way is real opportunity. My dad's in a retirement home. Like those people would love conversation, whether it's a robot or a cat. They just want to talk. I'm digressing, but there's there's a lot of opportunity for companies to make a lot of money on the demographic collapse of Europe and most of the rest of the world. Lieven's empty, he needs another one and I need one after this conversation. Boys, it was fun. We'll see you again in a couple weeks. We out!


Chad: We out.


Speaker 5: Wow. Look at you. You made it through an entire episode of the Chad and Cheese podcast. Or maybe you cheated and fast forwarded it to the end. Either way, there's no doubt you wish you had that time back, valuable time you could've used to buy a nutritious meal at Taco Bell, enjoy a pour of your favorite whiskey, or just watch big booty Latinas and bug fights on TikTok. No, you hung out with these two chuckleheads instead. Now go take a shower and wash off all the guilt, but save some soap because you'll be back. Like an awful train wreck, you can't look away. And like Chad's favorite Western, you can't quit them either. We out.

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