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LinkedIn Plays Games

In today's episode, we're diving into the world of LinkedIn, where reports suggest the platform is dipping its toes into gaming with puzzle-based experiences like "Queens" and "Inference." But is LinkedIn playing games or getting serious about engagement? We'll discuss.


But first, let's talk funding. Milan's Talentware just secured €800,000 for its AI-driven SaaS platform, while NOVA, a freelancer hub, snagged $1.75M in seed funding. Talent management software is hot, folks, and NOVA's growth from a private Instagram page to a powerhouse in the freelance world is impressive.


Now, onto the self-serve saga. Big retailers like Dollar General, Target, and Walmart are rethinking self-checkout due to theft concerns and customer experience woes. Dollar General's pulling out self-checkouts in some stores, while Target's implementing "express self-checkout" with item limits. Who would've thought petty crime would lead to job creation?



PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION


Intro: 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. Because what happens in the Red Light District stays in the Red light district. Hey kids, you're listening to The Chad and Cheese Podcast. I'm your co-host, Joel Van Gogh Cheeseman.

Chad: This is Chad who gave me that fucking Jaeger bomb Sowash.

Joel: And on this week's show, LinkedIn plays games, self-checkout is fading, and who'd you rather? Let's do this. Yeah, I texted my wife that I had done a Jaeger bomb and she said, "What is it, your 21st birthday?"

[laughter]

Joel: Oh man, that was so bad.

Chad: Yeah, when they came to the table, Thanks, Bill Boorman. Thanks Bill Boorman. They came to the table, two handfuls of Jaeger bombs. I'm like, "What is this shit? What is going on here?" I was just a welcome to Europe from Mr. Borman.

Joel: I don't even remember what's in a Jaeger bomb outside of Jaeger. Is it Red Bull? Like what...

Chad: I think it is.

Joel: Okay. Red Bull and yeah, awesome.

[laughter]

Joel: Homeboy is not human. He's like the Winston Churchill. Have you ever seen the Winston Churchill daily diet? It's like scotch and cigars all day and he lived to 90. That's Bill Boorman.

Chad: Yeah. Except Borman doesn't do cigars. He just doubles up on the scotch.

Joel: Yeah. And the no sleep thing. I think Churchill got some sleep while he was busy fighting the Nazis.

Chad: But I mean, Borman's only like 30 years old.

[laughter]

Joel: Not true.

Chad: It's taken a toll. It's taken a toll.

Joel: Yeah. He's not quite 90 yet. He only looks it.

Chad: I love that guy. Love that guy.

Joel: Yeah, good stuff.

Chad: I also love Lieven Van Nieuwenhuyze and Rika Coppens isn't too bad either. My God, we had a blast yesterday.

Joel: What a great show. So yeah, we failed to mention that we're recording from Amsterdam. We were at the e-recruitment congress.

Chad: Amsterdam.

Joel: Which is usually in Belgium, but they put it in Amsterdam this year. What a great conference. What a hidden gem that most of people in the states have no idea. Or in Europe.

Chad: The Muziekgebouw.

Joel: Yeah, it's this multi-billion dollar company, Bain Capital. They're growing this Congress. It could be an up and coming thing that becomes mainstream for everybody. All our RecFest and Unleash. But great conference and I love how they utilize us.

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: They put us in the balcony, all old Muppet guys. And so many conferences you get a presentation and they like, Does anyone have a question in the audience? And it's this awkward sort of moment where, who's going to ask the question, what's it going to be? You got to run the microphone to the person that raises their hands.

Chad: It's just awkward.

Joel: Yeah. So with this setup, the presentation goes, they know they're going to get Q and A, they sit down on the couch, we hit 'em with a little banter, little questions, and I think it runs much more smoothly. I think more conferences should have journalists, podcasters, bloggers, whatever, there to ask questions right after their session. I think it's great.

Chad: Yeah. Agreed. Agreed. Yeah. And I am ready, just about ready, to wrap up this whirlwind tour. Julie and I went to Vegas and that's when we left the house. Then we spent a couple of days in Houston doing visa stuff for Portugal and then we came straight here from Houston. So it's been a whirlwind trip. It's been a blast. Europeans are amazing. They always make it fun and they always want to show you around. I hope I get to see everybody. If I don't, I'm sorry. I'll see you next time.

Joel: It's so laid back and chill here. I love it.

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: So you're here for a few more days. You leave what, Saturday?

Chad: Yeah, leaving Saturday afternoon. Yeah.

Joel: So I'm headed out. I've never been to Germany so I'm just going to take a few days, gonna go to Dusseldorf where Bill Boorman is going to be. I'm gonna try to avoid him as much as possible.

[laughter]

Joel: He's got a little VOK thing there apparently. I'm try, I'm doubling down on my penicillin so I don't catch the VOK while I'm in Dusseldorf.

Chad: Good call.

Joel: And then I'm headed to, we call it Cologne, but apparently it's Colon or Koln. Anyway, I'll be there for a couple days, flying out of there, coming back Saturday. And then we get a good month or so off of travel. So recovery time.

Chad: It is weird how we I mean, Americans, try to America-fy all the... And maybe it's not just us, maybe it's the rest of the English speaking world. But yeah, the way that you spell Cologne is K-O-L... The O has an umlaut. K-O-L-N, right? So Koln. But we call it Cologne, so have fun.

Joel: Yeah, it's from like Koln. Koln. Okay, well this is an abbreviated show. We're both pretty hungover, which if you're watching on YouTube, you can figure that out. If not...

Chad: Lucky bastards.

Joel: It's definitely in Chad's voice. I think my voice might be a little better this morning, but we'll get back to the birthdays, but we cannot fail to mention that if you like free stuff, go to chadcheese.com, click the free link. We're getting new T-shirts printed up so those will be going out shortly. We got a bourbon selection from Textkernel, free beer from Aspen Tech Labs. And if it's your birthday month, you might just win...

Chad: Rum from...

Joel: Rum from Plum. And if I can find the soundbite that everybody loves, we can maybe at least give people some of that.

Chad: There you go. I need that.

SFX: Can you feel I need the tension in the air right now? I know I can. I can feel it all the way down in my plums.

Joel: I could feel a little Kebu in my plums last night.

Chad: Oh God. Yeah.

Joel: If you haven't enjoyed some Kebu kids, that's right. The Euro sensation.

Chad: Oh, yeah.

Joel: Kebu. Alright, that's...

Chad: If you're in our socials, you've probably seen the Kebu.

Joel: That's enough of that this morning. Yeah, that's enough of that.

Chad: [chuckle] Wanna thank Geert Jan who was here, we got to see him. And then also got to see Gerard from Textkernel, T-shirt that you're wearing if you're watching on YouTube, so...

Joel: I didn't see Gerard. I didn't get my Gerard time. I'm very upset about that. So yeah, I got the TextKernel rockin'.

Chad: He was ducking in, trying to duck you.

Joel: He's a busy guy. I get it, I get it. He's a busy guy. Just like the news from this week.

SFX: Topics.

Joel: All right. Little LinkedIn goodness. Reports say LinkedIn is venturing into gaming with puzzle-based experiences like Queens and Inference. Why do this, you ask? Well, they're apparently aiming to increase user engagement and deepen connections, expanding beyond its traditional professional focus. Chad, is LinkedIn just playing games here, or are they really serious this time?

Chad: Oh it's so bad. Yeah, I get the whole sticky part, but this, to me, doesn't make any sense. And this is not gonna... How's it going to deepen connections? I mean, I can see that, maybe play Wordle against...

Joel: It's like a Kitty Powers dialogue, monologue.

Chad: Yeah, I mean, it doesn't make any sense. Not to mention you're talking about professional network, which on the professional side of the house you want to stay with productivity, and productivity and games don't kind of go together. So instead of doing my jobs, my job or my project, I'm on LinkedIn playing a crossword puzzle or some stupid shit. Who knows what kind of fucked up games LinkedIn's gonna play. But I can't say it enough, LinkedIn needs to revitalize the platform itself. It needs to stop adding stupid shit on it. They've had, what, the videos and the Instagram and the podcast and all these things that just kind of were thrown there, and they haven't gotten any traction, right? I mean, you could say they've been utter failures while the infrastructure that is LinkedIn is decades old. So I don't understand why they're spending so much time with these stupid little projects when they have a big issue. When the Titanic is sinking, you don't rearrange the deck chairs. Okay?

Joel: Mm-hmm. I like that. I like that.

SFX: Sixty percent of the time it works, every time.

Joel: So when I first read this headline, I thought, Oh, they're introducing some sort of tradeify, PlayMetrics, visual assessment gaming thing. No, no, this is like chess or checkers on LinkedIn, which is... I just don't get it. Maybe it's a 20% extra time thing, but they would be much more served if they were creating some sort of visual assessment that people could take as part of their LinkedIn experience. So that was kind of a bummer. Look, I agree with you. They need to focus on the blocking and tackling. Their job search sucks. We've talked about that pretty extensively. Stability of the platform. All that stuff can be improved for sure. Why they're wasting time and resources on games is kind of ridiculous. I mean, just open up an app store and have people develop games like Facebook, if you're going to do that. Which actually would be kind of interesting if LinkedIn opened up an app store. And you mentioned the video. I actually think they may have bailed on video too quickly.

Chad: Oh, yeah. Too early.

Joel: Just from our video experience, the shorts that we put out are very popular. They had shorts. Maybe they could have put it within the feed as opposed to just up at top. There are ways to increase engagement that video brings that they just scrapped. And I think that would be a much better idea to bring back stories, just do it better. Learn from what TikTok and Reels has done to get more engagement. But, yeah, I don't get the games. I think it's just really stupid. It was kind of seen in the wild. Maybe it's an experiment that got loose that shouldn't have. But if LinkedIn becomes this games platform, it could be a jump the shark moment. I don't know.

Chad: Well, I think what you're seeing is it's an advertising play and they need people to stay on the platform longer to click on more shit, to at least see more shit so you get the impressions that are playing through. They're tying, it feels like they're trying their damnedest to be an advertising platform with a bunch of professionals on it.

Joel: Fix the videos. Fix the shorts. Fix the shorts.

Chad: You could do some things. You could do some really amazing things with videos. There are connectivity opportunities within LinkedIn. There always have been, right?

Joel: That's where ads are. That's... Everyone's creating TikTok ads, Reels. Yeah, like, dude, I don't get it.

Chad: The LinkedIn lives, I mean, people do them, but a lot of them, they don't really get the traction, but still they're using it. I think they could amp that up. They could use more of that. They could actually do like Riverside does. We go into Riverside after we're done, we click magic clips and it creates like 20 different snippet videos of our podcast. It's easy. Or an opus clip or something like that. They could do something like that. You would have your LinkedIn live and boom, you could turn shorts into... I mean, it could be a content generating machine, but they're doing stupid shit like playing chess. But again, if they were doing something... I don't want to talk about the popping the balloon of Pymetrics, which I think is the stupidest fucking games we've ever seen. And they say this measures your risk tolerance.

Joel: Yeah. [chuckle]

Chad: No, it doesn't. You're fucking stupid. We even heard Hilke Schellmann, who spoke this week, who wrote the book called Algorithm, she was on the show a few months back, even talking about how stupid that shit is. If there was something that could be used, chess, these different things, rankings and whatnot, that would help understand maybe mental fitness or something of that nature, that might make sense. But I still think it's outside of the Tam of LinkedIn.

Joel: Fix video. And by the way, Microsoft owns Teams, which is a video platform. Like, it can't be that hard to integrate some video shit. Partner, I don't get it. I don't get it. Well, let's take a quick break. I need a new... I need another glass of water, and we'll talk a little, Who'd you rather? All right, Chad. It's time to play a little game that we like to call, Who'd You Rather? If you haven't heard us play this one before, we talk about two startups that have gotten funding and Chad and I decide, Who'd You Rather?

SFX: Hi, Poppy.

Joel: All right, let's play. Here we go, and in corner number one, we got Milan's Talentware, founded by Bain alumni. They've secured 800,000 euros for their AI-driven SaaS platform, which aids companies in talent management, development, and retention through personalized, skills-based approaches. Funding aims to enhance team and foster growth. That is Talentware. Next up, we have Nova, a freelancer hub. They've secured 1.75 million in seed funding. The startup aims to empower creative freelancers and bring gaps in talent management. The app facilitates connections, job postings, and career growth. So that gives us Talentware and Nova. Chad, Who'd You Rather?

Chad: Oh, this is a hard one. I'm gonna let you go first. I'm gonna, I think.

Joel: Oh, yeah?

Chad: Either one of these guys, at 2:00 AM, I'm not sure which one I walk home with, so I'm gonna let you go first. I'm still thinking in my clouded brain, Jaeger brain, this morning on this one.

Joel: Okay, okay. Well, I'm gonna stay consistent with Talentware. These sort of secondary players that look at bigger companies that have a lot more money, a lot more brand awareness, a lot more resources, the lattices, the deals, the gloats, the list goes on and on, Bob. Look, talent management software is a very competitive space, and you can say like, Well, they've proven the model. It's an in-demand product. But I just think when you bring a squirt gun to a gunfight, it's not gonna end very well for you. My prediction is within 24 months, these guys will probably fold up or sell to a bigger fish. Nova, I originally thought, Well, this is kind of like Camino, which has a head start, maybe... I've never quite understood why Camino hasn't taken off more than it has. They had a great start helping with some director's video production, but this thing is really interesting in the organic nature of it.

Joel: In less than a year, they've started as a private Instagram page sharing job postings for freelancers. They've grown to over 19,000 followers and they filled over 8,000 jobs and say that they've helped book nearly $10,000,000 in work. They've got investors from Spotify, Tesla, and Burberry. It feels kind of like Craigslist where they just kind of threw up something and the community embraced it and they've run with it. So for me, what I think the better business might be, the talent management, I think it's way too competitive for what Talentware is doing. So for me, Nova is a supernova, my friend, and that is what I'd rather.

Chad: Bad, bad. Okay, so I thought Nova was interesting, especially spinning out of Instagram, an Instagram account.

Joel: Yep.

Chad: I mean, that, that's just... You don't hear that much, right? "Well, this worked on Instagram." It's a great way to at least start to see if an idea gains traction. And they found traction. They did find traction. On the Talentware side of the house, you're right. Not to mention they're in Milan. They're in Italy, which means more than likely they are gonna try to take this to Europe as a whole. Italy's not a great market to try to start in. There's not a lot of cash in Italy compared to trying to start in Germany or France or the UK but then again, you have all the issues of languages and culture. And for me, again, for us learning a lot of this over the last few years here in Europe and working with a lot of European organizations, to me, with something like you said that is so competitive, number one. Number two, the TAM is so big. Number three, it's in Europe. I mean, how much more complex can you fucking get?

Joel: Yeah.

Chad: They do have cash. They do have backers, they have smart dudes. But I think Nova has proven itself. It is a very small TAM, by the way. But I think they can grow out of that. I think there's a there there, right? And when were talking about Camino, I think one of the hardest things is we know the guys over at Camino, love those guys. They know the people in the industry. The only problem is they don't know the recruiting in the gig industry, right?

Joel: Yeah. Yeah.

Chad: That's where a lot of companies fall down. Just because you know the industry that you're going into doesn't mean that you can recruit into that industry. You can gig into that industry. You can create technology that is sticky, LinkedIn, in that industry, right? So yeah, I'm gonna go with the little, very small, although I think powerful, Nova.

SFX: What are you doing, Step bro?

Joel: Alright, that's two for Nova, everybody. And that closes another round of, Who'd You Rather? We're gonna take a quick break. Remember, folks, listen to the ads. There is no show without sponsors. When we get back, we'll talk a little self-service, and it may not be what you're thinking of. All right, Chad, is this the end of self-serve checkout? Big retailers like Dollar General, Target, and Walmart are scaling back on self-checkout due to theft concerns and customer experience issues. Dollar General is removing self-checkouts from some stores and limiting purchases in others. Target implements express self-checkout with a limited number of items, and Walmart is toying with Walmart Plus members only getting self-checkout. Is this the end, and is full service back in, Chad? Your thoughts.

Chad: Yeah, well, first and foremost, we're in Amsterdam right now so there's no such thing as self-service. You've got full service at the Red Light District. All you got to do is go window shopping and there's full service right there. Yes, yeah, this to me, and I hate to take a dark turn here, but this is what happens when the poverty line starts moving up. People start stealing shit. People aren't doing this. We're not seeing the rise in crime and stealing shit because they want the high quality Target jeans or clothes or what have you. It's because they need the food. I mean it's one of those things. And they see gaps in security so therefore they take it. And they also called back to the article in, around the pandemic saying that the pandemic, it was great through the pandemic 'cause they didn't have to have people and obviously you had space and so on and so forth. But they were doing self-checkout way before the fucking pandemic.

Joel: Yep.

Chad: So I see, I think we're seeing something happen here that people are trying to, they're trying to associate to something that it's not. I think this is a poverty issue. I think that wages haven't climbed fast enough. Yes, wages are getting better, but they haven't climbed fast enough and they're definitely not climbing as fast as the fucking CEO pay that's out there. So we start seeing this kind of like spiral into the poverty. When the poverty line raises, we see these things happen. It's unfortunate, it really is, because I think this is a societal problem. And when you're talking about some of these locations like San Francisco, San Francisco is a expensive fucking place to live. I mean, it just is. And don't just think this is happening on the coast. This is happening everywhere.

Joel: That escalated quickly.

Chad: Sorry.

Joel: So I'll try to stay away from the politics of this. The other side of that argument would be that crime punishment has declined. Anything under $1,000 you can just walk out of the store and not get prosecuted. So is it the left argument or right? The fact is it's happening.

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: Earnings call after earnings call is like, We're feeling this pain. There's shrinkage.

Chad: If people are hungry, people are hungry. It doesn't matter. [chuckle]

Joel: Doesn't matter, but it's happening. What's ironic to me is, we're gonna employ more people because of this.

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: We're going to employ more people checking people out as a result of whether it's crime, poverty, whatever. And I guess that's a good thing. I, not to sound elitist, I've never stepped into a Dollar General but my impression is that they are not the best places in the world to shop. They're eliminating self checkout altogether. So that means a lot more people employed by Dollar General for better or worse. Target, and I've shopped at Target, and people bring the cart to self-checkout and it is like a snake line.

Chad: It's ridiculous.

Joel: It's waiting and it's almost, you're almost incentivized to go to the full service 'cause there's nobody in line. So, I mean, Target, it feels just more like yes, whether it's theft, I don't think there's as much poverty at Target or people that are desperate. It's just assholes who want to checkout 48 items in the self-checkout. So good for them for saying like, Look, it's 10 items, which has probably always been 10 items, people just ignore it. The Walmart's a little odd to me. I know they want to be Amazon. I know they want these prime members, these Walmart Plus members, and it's kind of a nice little incentive. They probably have an issue there as well with people loading up the cart and then trying to get out. Ultimately this means more jobs. It probably means a better shopping experience, at least for me at Target and all the moms, the soccer moms that are there getting their fragrances and their Dockers.

Joel: So yeah, I got nothing else but that. And I'm sorry, folks. I usually have a witty way to end the show. I'm hungover and I don't have one. I'm sorry, Chad. Do you got anything funny? You got anything funny to end the show? I guess we could just end in some Kebu. That might be...

Chad: Oh, Kebu would be great.

Joel: Yeah, Kebu? Alright.

[music]

Joel: You're welcome, world.

Chad: You're welcome.

Joel: No witty ending. Just...

Chad: This is Europe, baby.

Joel: Just some Kebu.

Chad: I gotta say, coming out of a lunch break straight into Kebu was fricking awesome. I mean it, and for those who weren't at the Congress, it was hilarious. Everybody gets back in after lunch. We're all, you get kind of like the cloudy brain because all your breath, all the blood in your head is in your stomach. So you can't think. Well, they wheel out Kebu.

Joel: Yep.

Chad: And it just like amps the whole crowd up and that gets the whole afternoon, sets the tone for the afternoon. So I think at least, Lieven, if you're listening, Kebu should be a staple, should be a staple. Guy should get in his van from Finland and drive all those Korg keyboards to wherever they're having the e-recruitment congress every year.

Joel: Some of the most European shit I've ever seen. I was waiting for A-ha and the Sprockets guys to come out and start.

Chad: Oh, yeah. Touch my monkey. Touch my monkey.

Joel: Oh my, god. Did we just do a weekly show in less than 30 minutes?

Chad: Yes.

Joel: That's awesome.

Chad: Alright, well...

Joel: We'll see you next week, everybody. We out.

[applause]

Joel: We out.

Outro: Thank you for listening to, what's it called? The podcast, the Chad, the Cheese. Brilliant. The 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. So many cheeses and not one word. So weird. Anyhoo. 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. It is so weird. We out.

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