Live from UNLEASH America in the Workhuman booth, Bennet Sung, co-founder at New Cherry and longtime industry know-it-all, joins the show to talk about everything from employer branding to the hottest takeaways from the conference to even explaining the name of his company. I mean, New Cherry? What’s that all about?
Bennet Sung - https://www.linkedin.com/in/bennettsung/
Workhuman - https://www.workhuman.com
UNLEASH America - https://unleash.ai
TRANSCRIPTION SPONSORED BY: Disability Solutions partners with our clients to build best-in-class inclusion programs and reach qualified, talented individuals with disabilities of every skill, education, and experience level.
Chad: Live from the Workhuman booth at Unleash America in Vegas this year, Joel and I were able to sit down with some great practitioners and industry voices. Sit back and enjoy this exclusive episode Powered by our friends over at Workhuman. Answer the human need to be recognized, developed, and celebrated at workhuman.com.
Intro: Hide your kids. Lock the Doors. You're listening to HR's most dangerous vodcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry right by where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, mass opinion and loads of snark. Buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.
Chad: What's up boys and girls? We are at Unleash America, the Workhuman Booth, having many guests and fans of the show. But our first guest, congratulations. Our first guest.
Bennett Sung: I'm number one. I was number 32 at In-N-Out Burgers yesterday. [laughter],
Joel: You're number one. We've only done about 1,060 podcasts.
Chad: But for today at the Workhuman booth, you are number one.
Bennett Sung: Awesome.
Chad: So let me introduce Bennett Sung. He is the co-founder of New Cherry [chuckle] His LinkedIn profile reads like a Tolstoy novel. I mean, it's like you've been everywhere. Give us the summary of your professional journey.
Joel: [laughter] Oh my God. I hope you use protection. That's all I gotta say.
Bennett Sung: My professional journey is pretty simple. 16 years in product marketing and now supporting B2B enterprise SaaS companies.
Joel: All the way back to Virtual Edge, which most listeners won't even fucking know what that is. So tell a little bit about that story.
Bennett Sung: Oh yeah. So Virtual Edge. Interesting enough, when I first interviewed back in April, 2006, I literally asked Diane Smith, the fun question I was most interested in is. Are you planning to get acquired by ADP?
Chad: He goes right for the jugular, doesn't he?
Joel: Here's some foreshadowing by the way, listener.
Bennett Sung: Because at the end of the day, if you're an HR tech, and you want to have the biggest distribution channel. ADP is a great option. Right?
Joel: Any one of the acronyms, the SAPs or the ADP.
Bennett Sung: UKGs. Exactly. Whatever. If that was the case, [laughter] But interesting enough, she obviously didn't gimme a precise answer until six months later when she appeared in the "blue suit", because that's the ADP uniform for executives and so for those that know about it, it's like, okay, there are a couple things that, not only did she do that she got rid of all the wine, all the liquor from the building. Because obviously was not allowed.
Joel: That's horrible.
Bennett Sung: So Virtual Edge got acquired by ADP, then got wrapped into a tumultuous journey. [laughter]
Joel: Well talk a little bit about this scale. 'Cause we're just talking about some companies want to get acquired so badly, although when you get eaten by the 800-pound gorilla, there are areas of scale that you can't even realize until you get punched in the gut by that gorilla.
Bennett Sung: Oh yeah, totally. In this situation with Virtual Edge, it was still a highly configurable application, but was it configurable and scalable for implementing 300 plus customers at any given time?
Joel: 'Cause you were doing, how many of your first...
Bennett Sung: We're probably doing maybe 10.
Joel: Right, but you're talking about high level, very customized. Very so I mean, you're talking white glove service from 10 to 300.
Bennett Sung: 300, Yeah. And that was the biggest eye opener when we talk about scale. So when I go out and talk to all these early stage startups, I said, I hope your vision... If you're long, North Star is a big distribution channel, let's make sure the technology is set up to be successful in a situation where you envision at some point in time you're gonna be implementing 300 concurrent customers.
Joel: How many of those care about that though? They're just looking at trying to get acquired.
Bennett Sung: They're just trying to get acquired.
Joel: And then after that it's pretty much scales on you. Big boy.
Bennett Sung: No, and that is my biggest challenge to all of the book acquirers is like, can this company succeed as is without you having to quickly do another acquisition to replace the one that didn't work? [laughter] 'Cause that's exactly what happened in ADP world. I mean the, Virtual Edge came in, we had some good success for a few years, and then of course the technology began to show itself off in the context that it wasn't scalable effectively. And so they had to go back out to market to go find a new one.
Chad: Do you think that's a threat? We talk about integrations all the time.
Bennett Sung: Oh yeah.
Chad: And I've talked to startups that integrate with, you name it, and they get flooded or at least unexpectedly flooded with business. What advice would you give knowing your experience to companies looking to integrate, make sure that they're ready for it and, what questions should they ask before they make that leap?
Bennett Sung: That's a great question. I think interesting enough, we are in an industry that integration is necessary. It's a requirement. And I think this is what also cripples early stage companies. They don't realize that their entire roadmap will begin to shift away from innovation to integration so quick.
Chad: Oh my God. I love that [laughter]
Joel: That is great. That is great.
Chad: Drop the mic. I'm done. Innovation to integration.
Joel: Wrap this up.
Chad: Holy shit.
Joel: So this is why we see, and let me clarify this real quick. We see these point solutions are incredibly, incredibly innovative. They get acquired and then nothing.
Bennett Sung: Nothing. And here's the deal. They will go ahead and spend $30,000 of engineering money per integration. And guess how many customers they have on one integration? One, they don't try to find, okay, how do we now go and find...
Chad: And you say one because it's that one that enables them to get that integration.
Bennett Sung: Exactly and they never find a way to find the next one. So a big part of their integration strategy is like, how do I now find 20 more greenhouse customers, 20 more SAP customers? And it becomes a rinse & repeat in order for you to make it profitable.
Joel: How does a behemoth like ADP not know how to do appropriate due diligence around this specific area?
Bennett Sung: I think that's why we also began to see ADP shift their mindset on acquisition. I mean, when was the last acquisition we heard ADP recently made? Back in the 2006 there was employees out of Atlanta. There was all sorts of small little payroll companies. You had virtual Edge, you had the Right Thing and then all of a sudden, boom, they stopped.
Joel: Don't they have a huge marketplace? So it's kind of like.
Bennett Sung: They have a huge marketplace. And, and I think that is what was the catalyst for the slowdown and acquisition with this because they ended up realizing that the point solutions got so frustrated trying to figure out how to integrate with ADP because they had so many, like compliance requirements and security guards just to be even authorized to pass, you know, even do and see a file transfer.
Joel: Can you imagine the red tape for a global organization like ADP and all the different areas of HR that they actually touch? The compliance points that they, I mean that would be a fucking nightmare for, I mean, any point solution.
Bennett Sung: Oh, it's impossible. I mean.
Chad: Why do you think founders don't stick around after a year?
Joel: Oh, God.
Chad: It's because of that.
Bennett Sung: That's a great point. Like, I mean, most of them supposedly have a retention clause when they get acquired. But almost every single one of 'em I've saw left in three months.
Joel: They eject.
Bennett Sung: They eject so quickly. It's like I'm out of here. No way, I might be able to stick around.
Chad: That's the same with SAP. That's the same with MD.
Bennett Sung: And then they lose momentum because these founders have such close relationship with their customers and it's like now that relationship, these big companies we're trying to like hold onto just fall apart because the actual founders, the ones, the glue left.
Joel: Innovation to integration. That's the killer.
Bennett Sung: It's the killer of every early stage startup. But that's why I'm kind of interested in like...
Chad: ADP is where innovation goes to die. [laughter],
Bennett Sung: Any of these big companies, it's where it goes.
Joel: I mean, to be fair though, ADP is a fucking monster with every piece of tech imaginable from talent acquisition all the way into kicking somebody out the door.
Bennett Sung: Exactly. And not, and then you go every size of company.
Bennett Sung: Right. The SMB, the mid-market and then the enterprise. But yeah, I mean imagine they also used to have an automobile dealership partner side of their business. [laughter] And they got rid of that.
Joel: Sound like when Monster had the the blue collar.
Bennett Sung: Oh my gosh. Right. [laughter]
Chad: Declare your independence. 4th of July, gig economy, freelance economy.
Bennett Sung: So I mean, I think there's a little hope on the integration front and that's kind of like this new evolution. I think it's a company called Merge, which is, it's kind of like, remember when there was a company HR and X back in the day? There's still a few of those cloud integration partnerships, but they just don't work. They're expensive.
Chad: It's hard.
Bennett Sung: And especially with like all of the newer emerging AI tool point solutions and what they're trying... Because these are supposed to be augmentations of a team. This is not just, not about like a UX integration, add tracker systems, like any of the bots that are out there, they want to be able to move and change statuses on candidates. And a lot of times these ATS systems, CRMs have no capability to do that. And that's where the disappointment in integration experience really sets in and people that's like, oh tired of this.
Joel: So with Any Tech, we have to take a look at evolving markets. User behavior, those types of things. All of these things we have never, ever been fluid with in HR at all. Talent acquisition, anything like that. Now with the advancements of obviously the generative AIs, or our fun little brother ChatGPT [laughter], you know.
Joel: Yeah. I mean we're actually getting companies who are programming ChatGPT with, Chad and Cheese Voices.
Bennett Sung: Nice.
Chad: And tones.
Joel: And tones. So this is getting crazy and out of whack. My point here is before the landscape was always fluid, but we weren't. Now it is ridiculously fluid. I mean, we're talking change day by day, right?
Bennett Sung: Every day, yeah.
Joel: How The fuck are we going to keep up with this shit?
Chad: We're not.
Bennett Sung: We're not [laughter]
Chad: We just... Dude, we talked about this at the panel, this little kiosk, this whole thing is gonna be little kiosks of like 700 people creating cool things with, with AI and all the solutions out there. And the buyer's going to walk in and go, what the fuck is this? It used to be like, I went to the biggest booth and I bought them. Now I got to look at this. There'll be an AI that says what is the best solution for me?
Bennett Sung: And that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to walk over my ChatGPT on my phone asking, so where do I find this tool inside the exhibit hall?
Chad: Yeah. Who should I buy?
Bennett Sung: Because if this is all going to be these small little booths that I have to squint because I can barely see, I'm gonna need a hearing aid. Call ChatGPT to tell me where to go.
Joel: Well And, and think about it. It could easily, totally nerding out right now, it could easily digest the information from this entire conference and then link out to all of the, the different company websites to be able to ingest all that. Then go to reviews. Like you said. Then, I mean you could, Bennett, do one of those and, and a conference should. Let me put this out there, should, yes, be looking at doing things like that 'cause that would be fucking amazing. Can you imagine an app, like you were saying as an HR practitioner, you come in and you say, how do I find X, Y, and Z? The app just goes, oh, you need to go to these different booths.
Bennett Sung: And not to mention, can you tell me the sessions that are gonna support that. Right.
Joel: Oh shit, we've got a startup happening here. Okay.
Chad: God! Now you're getting nuts.
Bennett Sung: No. Because I've always realized, like when you think about the hardest part, like I've been using the Unleash app, it's a very complicated app. It's like, I got to go to attendees, I got to go to speakers, I got to go to sponsors, I got to go everywhere. It's like I have one goal, here's what I'm trying to find. This is what I'm trying to learn. And I wanted to like, by the way, here's your agenda and I just added to your Google calendar please.
Joel: And Boom.
Chad: Like give me these companies in order of how much they've raised. Give me these companies in the order of how many news articles have been written about them.
Joel: Yeah. All depends on what your need is from a media standpoint, from a buying standpoint, from a competitive standpoint, it could be all that shit.
Bennett Sung: And then you make more money from other sponsorship dollars.
Chad: We just cracked the case.
Bennett Sung: So next year we're going to report on the new, ChatGPT app for events.
Joel: We can't launch this episode because there, there's a business behind it and we've got to talk about startup.
Chad: I'm buying eventgpt.com.
Bennett Sung: Oh my God. Who's going to buy that? Who has that domain? [laughter]
Chad: Shit. I want to pivot real quick 'cause your name fascinates me and not Bennett Sung, but New Cherry. What? How'd you come with the name? Because you're a deep dude. You're a smart dude. There's got to be some hidden agenda with the name like New Cherry.
Joel: You work up in the middle of the night, sweats, New Cherry!
Chad: You went to college in Hawaii, [laughter] So maybe you were like on a ocean adventure please clear this name up for me.
Bennett Sung: So, New Cherry is pretty much, a good friend of mine, Jeff Bamo, who also worked at ADP. He happens to live on a street in Atlanta called New Cherry. I said, perfect. I live in Seattle. Many people may not know the Seattle and Washington are renowned for cherries, period. So between his street name, where I live right now, I didn't want to think too much about other company names.
Chad: I love these stories.
Bennett Sung: It really stemmed from, the connection that Jeff Bamo and I have.
Chad: So you have a podcast. I want to give you a second to just talk about what you guys talk about. And.
Joel: Ben has a podcast?
Bennett Sung: I'm getting to everything.
Joel: Awesome. I dig it.
Bennett Sung: It's a webcast. So, Rayanne, Thorn, Krueger and I, we work together considerably at Humanly. We spend a lot of our time just rifting on what the hell's happening every day. Because before we even started to actually do work, right, of course the owner knows all about our rifting all day long, [laughter] And we just said, do you, do we think that something could come about, people would be interested in hearing what we have? That's an outside in view into what Rayanne and I talk about? Because we cover a lot of different things. And so we said, shall we just test this out? So we just come up with On the Edge, it's kind for me, it's a storyline. It's a lyric off of Lady Gaga's album. And Rayanne has her own interpretation.
Joel: Or Aerosmith.
Bennett Sung: Or Aerosmith.
Chad: Living on the edge.
Joel: It's good for everybody. So a little bit in there for everybody.
Bennett Sung: Everybody.
Joel: There you go.
Bennett Sung: Right. And so we just started every Friday at 8:00 AM Pacific time, Willis, jump on to LinkedIn live and boom, we're just rifting about a variety of things and we're beginning to kind of rein it in a bit to make it a little bit more focused. 'Cause I think at some point it's like, I don't think they all wanna know about all of our side conversations we like to have [laughter], but it's not probably super productive or informative. So we're beginning to concentrate our focus on a part of the whole diversity mantra and we're gonna focus our entire energy moving forward. In fact, we're in the midst of potentially planning an event around belonging. So belonging is gonna be what we're planning to build our central focus for On the Edge moving forward.
Chad: So we're here in the expo hall, it's only the first day, but any companies catch your eye, any companies you wanna make sure you check out? What's your take?
Bennett Sung: I'm planning to check out every one of these little small companies.
Chad: The kiosks.
Bennett Sung: The kiosks. Yes. I'm planning to check the kiosks out.
Joel: I love the little, startup alleys? I love those.
Bennett Sung: I do but I had no idea. There's startups everywhere. I think under every banner there's this kiosk probably, right? Or kiosk, like a kiosks section. So I'm gonna check them all out. There's a few, I'm seeing how innovative are they really going to be... Are they really, it's like, are you just trying to reinvent the phone interview yet again? I see a few of those out there. Oh, we're gonna do voice, we're gonna do record your voice on the phone and we're gonna translate that and it's gonna go into your ATS and said, yeah, I could have done that by a chat bot. I could have done that in 50 million different ways. Why are we, why do you wanna do the phone version of that? Those are the questions I have. It's like, where's the transformation going? Or are you just minutely making a small little change and then they say, oh, we're gonna get rid of the phone interview. I said, is it like we're gonna get rid of the resume because you've been... We've been saying that for ages, [laughter], it's like there's all these clickbaits. It's like get rid of the resume.
Joel: But with tech, the way that tech is moving now and how fast it is, there's an opportunity. There really is an is opportunity. Like, like there never has been before, which makes me pretty damned excited.
Joel: It's still cynical though 'cause no HR and TA is slow to fucking adopt.
Chad: And I'm still waiting for the Oculus headsets to make it into their start up kiosks.
Bennett Sung: Oh right. Where is their AR VR, what? Didn't it make a little indent a couple ago?
Joel: I don't know if you remember or not, but Career Builder pioneered that space with Pokemon for Jobs. Remember that?
Bennett Sung: Oh my gosh.
Chad: QR codes and headsets. Where the hell are they damn it?
Bennett Sung: Where are the QR codes? They disappeared fast.
Chad: Bennett Sung everybody. Bennett, for our listeners that want to know more about your connect, where would you send them?
Bennett Sung: You can find me all over LinkedIn. Look for the guy with pink hair on the profile picture. It's linkedin/in/bennettsung.
Chad: Thanks Bennett. We appreciate you stopping by, Chad. That's our first one, but not our last.
Chad: We out.
Joel: We out.
Intro: Thank you for listening to, what's it called, the podcast, the Chad The Cheese. Brilliant. They talk about recruiting, they talk about technology, but most of all they talk about nothing. Just a lot of shoutouts of people you don't even know. And yet you're listening. It's incredible. And not one word about cheese. Not one cheddar blue nacho, pepper jack, Swiss. There's so many cheeses and not one word. So weird. Any who? Be sure to subscribe today on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. That way you won't miss an episode. And while you're at it, visit www.chadcheese.com. Just don't expect to find any recipes for grilled cheese. This is so weird. We out.