After a long weekend on both sides of the Atlantic, the boys have downed some Tylenol and taken a nap before turning on the mics, discussing a wide range of topics. First-up is an update on CareerBuilder’s sale to Greece-based Kariera and what comes next in Europe for the brand. If you love layoffs triggered by AI, then you’ll love the story out of BT, who says they’ll cut 55,000 jobs, mostly in the UK, by the end of the decade as part of cost-cutting measures powered by AI. And speaking of AI, Google’s Bard is expanding to 180 countries, but noticeably absent from the list are countries in the European Union (EU). What’s up with that? We discuss. Then it’s on to Buy-or-Sell with Abby, Centuro Global and Belgium-based Whale.
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SFX: Europe has a bunch of countries in it.
Intro: 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 & Cheese Podcast.
Joel: Oh, yeah, it's World No Tobacco Day, which is why we all dropped acid before this episode. Welcome to The Chad & Cheese Podcast does Europe, everybody. I'm your co-host, Joel Marlboro Cheesman.
Chad: I'm Chad. I can't quit prompting you, Sowash.
Lieven: And I'm Lieven. No Bard for me, Funny-man Alison.
Joel: And on this week's episode, AI takes a bite out of European headcount. No Bard for you in buy or sell. Let's do this. You guys look a little rough today.
Joel: Outside of Chad's nicely, freshly shorn scalp. You guys are looking a little rough today.
Chad: I had a 6:00 AM flight out of Madeira...
Joel: That will do it.
Chad: To get to, yeah, back to Lisbon. And then a two and a half hour car ride to the place here in Cabana. So yeah.
Joel: So many places in Europe.
SFX: Europe has a bunch of countries in it.
Joel: Lieven, what's your excuse?
Lieven: We had, what's it called again? Pinksteren yesterday.
Lieven: Some kind of a holiday. I forgot the name in English.
Joel: Pentecost Day, I think.
Lieven: Pentecost. It sounds like some witchcraft thingy. Pentecost.
Joel: Sounds like some middle ages shit to me.
Chad: Is it religion? Well then, yes. It sounds like witchcraft.
Joel: We burned some witches and drove some stakes into some vampire's hearts over the weekend.
Lieven: So we had a holiday and it was... The weather was beautiful. And when the weather is beautiful in Belgium, we barbecue and we drink too much. So that's why I look a bit rough today, [laughter] as you call it.
Joel: What's a barbecue in Europe like?
Lieven: It's something you would complain about.
Joel: And what would I complain about?
Joel: Not enough barbecue sauce?
Lieven: Yeah. The steaks aren't steaky enough. And the barbecue sauce, it's not barbecue sauce enough. But, no, no, it was actually good. I have a good butcher. It's a fist thick steak.
Joel: Too much green stuff on the grill, I think would be the problem.
Lieven: I made it actually an American coleslaw or something. It was American recipe I found on Weber, [laughter] the barbecue brand, Weber. And I looked for side dishes and the coleslaw was a thing. It was good.
Chad: Was it good? You like it?
Lieven: Yeah, I like it. Yeah.
Chad: What about everybody else? And did the kids eat it? That's the question.
Lieven: Well, it was too green for them as well, even though it's not green. [laughter] But some even did.
Joel: Did you make hot dogs, is the question? Did you grill some hot dogs?
Lieven: We had better sausages, but we did...
Chad: Thank God, yeah.
Lieven: We did do sausage.
Chad: He talks about great steak and then he says hot dogs. I mean, how does that even go together? [laughter]
SFX: That escalated quickly.
Joel: We'll get to this in a second. Chad and I celebrated a birthday this weekend. So my birthday menu for my wife was chili dogs for lunch.
Joel: Ribs. Ribs for dinner.
Joel: And then when the kids came over, the big kids came over, we had smash burgers. So that's what's on my menu birthday time. I don't know about yours, Chad.
Chad: Nice. Yeah, no, I went to a five star restaurant in Madeira and had five courses. Can't remember them all because I had wine the entire time. So yeah, I had a hell of a headache. Woke up about 3:00 AM took some Tylenol, went back to bed. [laughter] It was a great birthday.
Joel: Dude, I fear that you're still on that yacht in Lido, Southern California. [laughter] You've taken douchey to a whole new level. Now it's come to Europe, you've left...
Chad: It's my birthday. [laughter] I get to be a little douchey birthday. [laughter]
Joel: I had wine with Buffy and the crew. Yeah.
Chad: Oh my God. Madeira has amazing wine though.
Joel: At least one of us is still people with the people. The commoners having chili dogs.
Joel: Jesus Christ. All right, let's get to...
Chad: Shout-outs. First shout-out goes to, you're gonna love this name, Theofilos Vasileiadis. He's the founder and CEO of Kariera.gr. I think first and foremost, every CEO should have a gladiator name like that. Theofilos. Anyways, you might remember Kariera.gr here in the news lately because, what? Yeah, they bought CareerBuilders International business. But here's a message that Theo sent me on LinkedIn specific to our comments about the CareerBuilder Fire Sale episode. If you haven't heard that, just go to chadcheese.com. CareerBuilder Fire Sale episode. So long story short, Kariera didn't buy the CareerBuilder brand, so they can't use the CareerBuilder brands, just the business and the intent to spin off those local businesses with newer tech.
Chad: Can't use the CareerBuilder brand. It sucks anyway. Why the fuck would they use it?
Joel: Yeah. It's so strong. That's gonna kill everything. Jesus. [laughter] Well, good luck to them they're in Greece.
Joel: All right, I got a shout-out to LinkedIn. I'm really gonna use this as a reason to talk about me. So again, I had a birthday this weekend.
Chad: Did you have a birthday this weekend?
Joel: It's not too late to send those e-gift cards at woodencork.com to firstname.lastname@example.org. But anyway, like me, Chad, you probably received a lot of automated happy birthday messages on LinkedIn and I'm here to tell everyone, stop it.
Joel: Stop it. I don't know you people, you send me a happy birthday on a holiday weekend. I know it's not real. The messages I get from these people are like eight years deep of just happy birthday every year, like clockwork. I don't have a conversation. I don't know them. So if you're on LinkedIn, if you've got the automated messages set to Happy Birthday, just stop. It's time to stop the insanity.
Joel: It's gone too far and it's a little too crazy at this point.
SFX: Doesn't anyone notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.
Chad: Not authentic, kids.
Lieven: I'm going to give you a manual happy birthday Joel. Happy birthday.
Joel: Ah. Thank you Lieven.
Chad: Do we get a song?
SFX: Happy Birthday.
Chad: Can we get it in Dutch or in Flemish? Is there...
Joel: How do I say "Happy Birthday" in Flemish?
Lieven: Gelukkige verjaardag.
Joel: Yikes. Gelukkige verjaardag.
Lieven: Yeah. Something like that.
Joel: Very good.
Lieven: The gelukkige was actually pretty good. The last part you screwed up. But okay, happy birthday.
Joel: That's the story of my life, man. Last part I screwed up.
Lieven: You started out just fine and then you screwed up.
Chad: Then he went to sleep.
Joel: Yeah. And then it goes wrong.
Joel: What you got, Lieven?
Lieven: Okay, shout out. My shout out goes to Michael Blakley from Equitas. You might remember Equitas. We've done a...
Chad: Oh, yeah.
Lieven: Buy or sell on Equitas some weeks ago and I think Chad bought and I didn't. I sold, and afterwards the guy reached out to us on LinkedIn and the co-founder Michael Blakley, and he was very nice, so he made me feel guilty about not buying. [laughter] And he tricked me in a demo, which actually was a very good demo. If you remember Equitas is some kind of a platform, a very nice platform I must say now, to ensure you are doing some fair hiring. And I thought, fair hiring. Fair hiring, that's something very American. We don't need software to tell us what's fair in Europe, but he convinced me otherwise. [laughter] If this was a buy or sell, now I will buy.
Lieven: But, and this actually is the point I was going to make. He told me something really interesting, or at least I found it interesting. He lives in Belfast, so he know the troubles for the very young people, maybe you don't but the Catholics were constantly fighting the Protestants in Belfast and killing each other in a very efficient way and bombing each other, whatever. He lives in Belfast and their demographic data capturing is an obligation since the 1998 peace agreement. There it's obliged to ask when you are on a job interview, are you a Protestant or are you a Catholic? Because they need to note it down to make sure there's fair hiring. So I wondered, okay, but what if you are Jewish and they say, "Are you a Protestant or a Catholic?" "I'm Jewish." "Yes, but are you Protestant or Catholic?" [laughter] But I don't think they have many Jews in Belfast, I guess. You are either way Protestant or Catholic and it's noted. It makes sense that a platform to ensure fair hiring like Equitas was born in Belfast. Bye. [laughter] Okay. That's it.
SFX: All right. All right. All right.
Lieven: He's going to send me a bottle of Bushmills, he promised.
Joel: He bought your vote. It sounds like, here...
Lieven: I'm for sale.
Joel: We have some live footage from that demo that Lieven got.
SFX: What are you doing step bro?
Joel: Oh, good God. Lieven can be bought everybody, Lieven can be bought.
Chad: Oh, good God. Well, maybe...
Joel: With a bottle of Bushmills.
Chad: Yeah, well maybe we can get that Bushmills at where? RecFest at Knebworth.
Chad: Park baby coming. That's right.
Joel: Oh, yeah.
Chad: Yeah, Michael Blakley from Equitas. I expect some Bushmills in July 6th. We're gonna be at Knebworth Park at RecFest. Just north of London, kids. If you're in Europe, you gotta come to RecFest. It's gonna be happening again. One day, one day. Bring the whole gang, bring... It's a team, whole team. The whole Chad and Cheese team's gonna be there. It's gonna be Joel, it's gonna be myself. It's gonna be Lieven, Julie's gonna be there. We're gonna have a... Hell, Cole's gonna be there for God's sakes. The whole team.
Joel: Lieven's gonna be there.
Chad: Yes. Everybody gonna be there.
Lieven: I'm gonna be there.
Joel: We're going deep, everybody.
SFX: Just the tip.
Chad: Which means you need to bring your team, you need to bring your team. We're gonna be on the Disrupt stage all day, where all we're going to do is talk about technology. So get out to Knebworth Park, London, just north of London. Knebworth Park, July 6th.
Joel: Love it. Love it.
Joel: All right, Telecom's, giant BT plans to cut up to 55,000 jobs. Yikes. Mostly in the UK by the end of the decade as part of cost cutting measures. AI and other technologies will replace a fifth of the workforce primarily in customer service. CEO Philip Janssen believes AI tools like chatGPT will enhance services without making customers feel like they're dealing with a robot. The job cuts align with the trend in the industry following Vodafone's plans to cut 11,000 jobs as well. Chad, what are your thoughts on the news?
Chad: I think it's interesting right out of the gate they're like, customer service can go. [laughter] And I've never called BT before, but I have called AT&T and I've called many other services and it really sucks. I think the best advent that they've come up with is this callback scenario, "Hey, you've got a 30 minute wait, can you give us your number and we'll just call you back?"
Chad: And that was one of the best customer service inventions, I guess you could say, over the last, probably fucking 20 years. [laughter] But we take a look at it. So BT currently has 98,400 employees that are not contractors. 130,000 with contractors. So nevertheless, 55,000 represents a large segment of the population of what they're gonna cut. You only put out an announcement like this, kids, to stifle an earlier announcements of reported 12% drop in profits. Yeah. Their profits went down $1.7 billion from year to year to April. Right. So BT's shares fell more than 7% after its results fell short of analyst expectations. BT wants to project a leaner and more profitable business, which is why they're giving the cuts 15,000 cuts to the building of the fiber networks. 10,000 UK networks require less maintenance. So you got less people there. 10,000 for new tech and AI for customer service. And then just 5,000 for basic restructuring. At the end of the day, this is more about trying to project power for better stocks than it is anything else. I don't believe that they know how many people they're gonna be able to displace with this tech just yet. I think they're willing enough to be able to say, look, we gotta make shareholders feel better and we gotta hopefully pump the stock.
Joel: So you're saying it sounds like a diversion.
Joel: By the way, the callback customer service tactic always gives me PTSD because it reminds me of dating in high school where girls would say, "I'll call you back when I have a second to focus on you," and of course they never did. But anyway, I digress.
Chad: But AT&T calls you back though and Verizon.
Joel: AT&T, yeah.
Chad: Yeah, they call you back.
Joel: They're a little friendlier than the girls I dated in high school, but that's another story. Remember when we talked about IBM a few weeks ago, Chad, replacing 30% of their back office jobs primarily through AI. Guess what their stock did? It went up. People love cost cutting and no one likes cost cutting and headcount reduction like Wall Street. You mentioned the stock price correlation there and that's no mistake. People on Wall Street like to hear about job cuts and they like to hear about companies that are embracing AI. Our friend Prof G likes to talk about the old days when everything had a dotcom on the end of it, because putting a dotcom at the end of your name meant that your stock went up a good 10%-15%, because now you are an internet company.
Joel: And I guess, BT is now an AI company because of all the layoffs through AI that they're going to be doing. I agree. No one knows exactly how many jobs are gonna be cut, what kind of new jobs are gonna replace the old jobs? They're just giving these sort of rosy diversions primarily to help support the stock price, to make them look like a cool, new company. I do think it's real that there will be lost jobs from AI, but I also think it's a big spin and PR tactic to make your company look better by embracing technology and reducing headcount, thus increasing stock price, thus increasing the values of CEOs and everyone in the C-suite and on the board and everyone else. So it's a win-win-win. Nobody really loses until the jobs start getting cut. And when you're on a yacht off of Lido, no one really cares about the job losses. [laughter] Lieven, what's your take?
Lieven: I thought I read something about 10,000 people within customer care who would be replaced by AI before the end of this year. So it's actually a really big number and it's getting pretty concrete. So they're going to fire 50,000 people, but 40,000 of those were just in fiber. And the project has finished, so makes sense that they stopped the project, but 10,000 people in customer care will be replaced. And I feel first line customer care, it makes sense to replace those people with something like ChatGPT, this is what ChatGPT is made for. Pretending to be human and staying patient, which isn't easy, I think, if you have constantly people calling and being annoyed. So I think ChatGPT does this best and it could, like we always said, generative AI you isn't going to take over your job. It's people going using generative AI are going to take over your job. And for my business from my industry, this is of course something we look very closely at. If 10 people are working in a company now, and they're going to be replaced by two people who are using OpenAI or generative AI, then we have to make sure it's our people who are going to stay.
Lieven: So I just launched a project in House of HR. We made a deal with a Belgium University, all our employees, and a big cuts of the people we put to work at all those companies will get a training in generative AI. And we want them, if they're going to fire someone, it's not going to be our people who are going to be fired because they know how to use generative AI. They have a certificate from a Belgium University. So this is something we need to act very fast, and we have to train everyone. So if someone gets fired, it'll be someone who doesn't know how to use it, which won't be our people.
Joel: Lieven, we've talked in the past about how influential labor unions can be in Europe as opposed to America. What role, if any, do you see labor unions playing in job losses due to AI? Do you see a strong response from unions or not so much?
Lieven: A dirty role as ever. [chuckle]
Joel: A dirty role.
Lieven: A dirty role. They have to be realistic, of course. This is reality and you just can't say we're going to make it illegal to use generative AI. That's ridiculous.
Chad: Or can you? We'll talk about that in a minute.
Joel: Yeah, we'll talk about the government's role in a second, but I'm curious about the union's role, if there is any.
Lieven: Yeah. Well, and to be honest, I haven't heard anyone from the unions talk about this in Belgium at least, yet. So maybe they're still debating over it or striking somewhere else, but...
Chad: Well, in this case for BT, the union actually said they understood that there were gonna be cuts. Just kinda like we're gonna have to take what we have to take, but they said, "Can we please make sure that we go heavy on the contractor side first?" They have 98,000 workers, a ton of contractors that they want to see let go prior to the actual FTEs.
Joel: And on that, when we come back, we'll talk about the government's role with AI.
Joel: Let me do that again. All right guys, a little bit more AI. No Bard for you Lieven. Google's AI chat bot Bard is expanding to 180 countries, however, noticeably absent from the list are countries in the European Union. While Google did not officially state the reason, it is likely related to GDPR compliance concerns. Italy recently banned a similar AI, ChatGPT, for the same reason. Google hinted that further expansion will align with local regulations. Canada, or what I call Europe light is also noticeably missing from the supported regions. Chad, what's your take on Google's decision, especially now that you're on a beach in Europe, probably not caring at all about Bard whatsoever.
Chad: Well, this is mirrored by what we saw from OpenAI. So switching, quick gears. Just a generative AI overall, whether it's Google whether it's OpenAI. Now I know Cheesman, you've been waiting for a Brokeback Mountain sequel. And here's a great storyline for that. A Time article entitled OpenAI Could Quit Europe over the New AI Rule. So, quote from the article, "OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said Wednesday his company could cease operating in the EU if it is unable to comply with the provisions of the new AI legislation that the block is currently preparing. Altman said that OpenAI's skepticism centered on the EU's laws designation of 'high risk. That's air quotes kid. High risks systems as it's currently drafted. If we can comply, we will. And if we can't, we will cease operating in the EU." This is seems like I can't quit you kind of scenario. I don't think they're gonna leave.
Joel: They'll have to if the government says they have to.
Chad: I don't say they have to. They just have... They just say that they have to abide by rules. So the government's not saying that they have to leave, please stay, but you have to abide by the rules.
Joel: Well, and Google's not even showing up.
Chad: Google's not showing up.
Joel: By the way, anytime I can put a Canadian news flash and a European show is always great.
SFX: Take off. We were doing our movie. Don't wreck our show you loser.
Joel: So European policy to me seems like a double-edged sword to some degree. We will celebrate record fines on Facebook or Google and that's a good thing. But the flip side of that is these tech companies are less likely to play in a way that they would in America or probably Asia and other places because of said fines and regulations and laws that Europe has set forth. So to me, this is like a lose for Europe because if Italy bans ChatGPT or Bard doesn't come to a European city near you, Europe just falls more behind countries that are introducing new AI, new technologies. So you can celebrate the fines and all the regulations, but also there's a double...
Joel: There's another side of that in that these companies are less likely to play ball or introduce these technologies to European countries, which also limits their ability to create new AI and companies around artificial intelligence within Europe itself. I would like to know if you asked any European, would you rather have greater privacy laws or the ability to play with new tech around AI? My guess would be more would say, "I'd rather play around with the new AI stuff and see the new tech than they would concern about their privacy." So this is the way it is, Europe, you can't have your cake and eat it too. If you're gonna fine Google and Facebook and everybody else to the moon, you're also gonna have less technology and cool shit to play with as a result of that.
Lieven: Yep. I totally agree. And it'll be pretty problematic if we would get behind on this, I think, and I don't think the Americans would mind if Europe was dragging it a bit. Not sure. So I definitely hope they won't be so stupid as to completely drive OpenAI away. Google doesn't like GDPR and neither do I, I think the whole idea is great, but I doesn't like the way... I don't like the way how it was executed, but that's a different story. But I was able to test Google Bards by using VPN and pretending I was in the United States. So there's always a way to work around, but I didn't really like Google Bards. And this is problematic too. I mean, it makes things up and it's still in an beta testing phase, I know, but it makes things up. I asked Google Bards write a biography over myself over Lieven Van Nieuwenhuyze who works at House of HR. And it started perfectly, it says, okay, Lieven is Chief Digital at House of HR, a company, blah, blah, blah. Everything was right.
Lieven: And then suddenly it said Lieven was born in 1972 in Ghent. I was born in 1976 somewhere else, but the rest was right. So it's mixing stuff, which is made up with stuff, which is true. And then it becomes very difficult to filter out what's not right and then this can become problematic if you use it for let's say, contract building but you are starting from wrong premises. I dunno. I think they have a lot of work to do. Also, it said I used to work for HannStar. I never worked for HannStar. I used to work for USG People, never for HannStar. So it knows vaguely what I've been doing. It knows who I am, but if it's not sure, it's just like making things up and I didn't have the same experience with OpenAI. It's much better in my experience, so I hope they stay and you can keep your Google Bard.
Chad: It's cleaner. I think ChatGPT and OpenAI is definitely cleaner. I think it's better. And just further along in its iterations, but one of the things that Sam Altman did say is that, "To be able to scale the nonsensical bullshit that's out there on the web today, you can't do it without generative AI." I mean, you just, you can't. So you have, when Facebook had the issues with Cambridge Analytica, that was all human, right? That was all data, but it was contracted, and then humans actually posted and targeted individuals. This, being able to scale, utilizing that same kind of data would be fucking scary and crazy. So there are some really bad sides to it. I don't think that OpenAI will be kept out of the EU. I think they'll work something out. But I hope there are some limiters because we have to have something limiting. We didn't have Facebook limiting with Cambridge Analytica selling shit to foreign countries and we got stung. We got stung hard. This could be 10 times worse when AI experts out there, they said a 10% likelihood that this could be existential risk. That's too much for me.
Joel: Hey, when the robots decide who they can get rid of first, it's Europe. So think about that when you talk about that.
Joel: And how prevalent is like VPN usage in Europe? Like I would say it's low single digits in America, people that leverage VPNs. I have a feeling it's a lot higher in Europe.
Lieven: Probably not. I use it because sometimes when I'm testing our websites, I want to make sure that I can test it on the different domains of whatever for Google, et cetera for keyboard tracking. I sometimes try to see in Germany how do we rate on the Google listings, for example. So then I have to pretend to be in Germany. So I use it, but I don't think many people do. My students say, "We use it to watch Netflix."
Lieven: So they can see the Netflix movies which are already released in the United States, but not in Europe yet, for example.
Lieven: And then they pretend to be in the US but I don't think many people use it in a professional way.
Joel: Single digits?
Chad: I mean, my kids were coming home telling me how they were using VPN on their phone to access stuff on the school's network that they couldn't without. So you, I think it's used a lot more than you think.
Joel: So old people don't use it, is what you're saying?
Joel: Hi [p people do. So it's a lot, lot bigger number.
Lieven: Young people like me.
Joel: The hallucinations don't bug me that much because I was on the internet speaking of old people. I was on the internet doing searches in the '90s, which really sucked. And it got better. Imagine that. So this stuff is gonna get better. Hallucinations are going to like slow down or stop, or there'll be some function around that. But anyway, it's gonna be fun to watch. I hope that Europe does not stifle exposure to AI. 'Cause I think it'd be really bad for Europe as a whole.
Joel: But what would be great for Europe is a game of, buy or sell everybody. That's right. If you know how we play the game, we talk about three companies that recently got funding in Europe. I read a summary and the boys give it a buy or sell rating. Are you guys ready to play a little buy or sell. Let's talk about Centura Global.
Chad: Bring it.
Joel: Based in London has secured 3.3 million pounds in funding. They assist companies in expanding internationally by helping them comply with local regulations, including immigration, HR, legal, tax and accounting issues. The platform covers over 150 countries and caters to companies of all sizes offering one-off advice or ongoing support. The funding will be utilized for platform development and expanding the team. Chad, is this the deal of a Centura or just another bottle of snake oil?
Chad: This org looks like it has a couple of high-powered founders, that understand at least the mechanics of the space. Unfortunately, there's just way too much firepower in said space right now. Several with many that have large war chests of cash, like Remote, Oyster, Deel, Velocity, Global, Multiplier, Rippling, and many, many more. Plus the aforementioned platforms have tech experience. This to me very simply, I'm a big fan of founders who know what they're doing. I think they have a lot of reputation in that space, just not on the technical side of the house. Not to mention there are a hell of a lot of unicorns that are in the space that have money to actually throw at this problem. It's a sell, unfortunately for me.
Joel: Oh, boy, that's a sell. So I'm trying to kind of make sense of this whole trend of small comp or like small invested companies taking on the remote work category because like you said, Chad, we have companies that have gained unicorn status for the amount of money they got, Remote, Oyster, Deel and so forth. And we've talked about them ad nauseam here on the show. However, we've also talked about on the show that companies don't fail because they've taken too little money. We talk about that they fail because they take too much money. So is the calculus around giving these companies a couple million dollars that we're hoping that Deel and Remote all go out of business and we're the mammals while all the dinosaurs die and we're the ones that come up from the ooze and become the players that companies actually use. If you're using that calculus, then this thing would be a buy. Unfortunately, I think that what will happen with the Deels and the Remotes and the Oysters and the Velocity, Globals and everyone, they're gonna eventually fight it out. There will be a Coke and a Pepsi from those two and maybe a Fanta, which we love to talk about. But those guys will fight it out. At best Centura Global is a minuscule like cracker crumb acquisition 5-7 years from now. But I don't think they're gonna get 10x on the 3 million that they got for this one. So for me as well, it is a sell.
SFX: Sad Trombone.
Lieven: I think they're doing like what Boundless is doing. We used to have Cockley in this show two years ago or something. And she launched a company then, I think, which is exactly doing what they're doing now. So I wonder how she's doing. Maybe we should ask if her company is doing just fine, then this might be a good investment. But I checked their website and they offer a seven day free trial and I like seven day free trials. So I was going to give it a try, but I couldn't get past their signup form and they always said, there is some error, try again. So I tried again and I tried again for seven times, but it kept saying the same thing. So I can't buy in these conditions, can I? [laughter] So it's a sell.
Chad: Literally can't buy.
Joel: Literally could not buy the product. All right. Number two is, France's Abby has raised 1.2 million euros. The company aims to become the leading SaaS solution for freelancers, offering tailored support and business management with a growing market of over 4.1 million self-employed individuals in France alone. Abby plans to accelerate customer acquisition, develop a mobile application, provide access to chartered accountants, and launch an advanced offering. Chad, are you ready to buy Abby or would you rather read the latest installment of Dear Abby? Is that too American of a reference?
Chad: Both sounds horrible by the way.
Chad: We've all said it before, going SMB sucks. Going contractor only sucks even more. You have to find those individuals, where they are and then try and sell them a single SaaS seat. [laughter] I mean, instead of going enterprise and selling teams SaaS seats, right? That's hard in the US where we all speak the same language and generally do business in the same way. Trying to get this rolling in Europe as a French company, that would be a fucking nightmare. Sorry Abby, this is a sell for me.
Joel: Oh, boy. All right. So when it comes to first mover excellence, here's what France does well, revolution, art, and turning snails into fine cuisine.
Chad: And croissants.
Joel: WorkTech... Okay, I'll give you croissants. Especially the chocolate ones. Anyway, WorkTech, not so much. Abby is an invoicing software dedicated to micro entrepreneurs. What the fuck is a micro entrepreneur? I've heard of solopreneurs... Now I gotta deal with micro entrepreneurs, wherever the hell that is. You know what makes invoicing easy? PayPal, QuickBooks, bill.com. And if you're already a freelancer, Upwork, Fiverr. Oh, and by the way, there's already a freelance platform in France called Freelance.com that you might wanna check out in terms of getting paid for your work. The field is way too crowded. This makes no sense to me. And for those reasons, I am a sell, how do you say sell in French?
Joel: There you go.
Joel: Lieven what you got, man.
Lieven: For me, it was a difficult one. I'm sure it's very interesting. And I've got a management company myself, so I'm not really a freelancer, but it's the same system. I've got my own, how do you call it? I don't know. My own shop. My own company. I hate all the nitty gritty, all the paperwork. So I have an accountant who takes care of everything for me. And this could be, Abby could be something to replace the accountant, but I would still have to enter all the data in the system, and I don't like it, so I would never, ever use it. Maybe control freaks who want to stay in control over everything, they might use it. But basically, if a freelancer who has lots of work, doesn't have the time to do this, and he will give it to his accountant. Maybe starters, but they don't have much money. So after careful consideration, it's a sell.
Joel: Did you try the seven-day trial period in this piracy?
Lieven: They didn't even offer it. They didn't even offer it. Boo.
Joel: That's two sells from Lieven, but can I interest you in a Belgian startup out of Ghent, Lieven.
Lieven: Yeah, it's bots, it's bots. Yeah.
Joel: Check this out. Check this out.
Lieven: According to Bard, I was born in Ghent, so I mean...
Joel: There you go. So you gotta let this... And we don't cover a lot of Belgian startups. So here we go. Whale has secured 2.5 million euros in funding for its knowledge sharing and employee software as a service platform. The investment will support the platform's growth, including the integration of AI in Europe and the US. Whale's platform allows small and medium-sized enterprises to create playbooks for training teams and measuring their impact on the business. Chad, is this a whale of an opportunity or a guppy you're gonna throw back into the water?
Chad: So, knowledge databases are really powerful but they suck to use. Going through company manuals, documentations, it just sucks. But think about having a knowledge database that you can plug into an OpenAI, kind of a database. And we keep talking about all these different rich databases that companies have that it's their own secret sauce. That's going to be the Bards, the OpenAIs of the future, the really focused tech, the rich databases. So I really believe data-rich platforms like Whale that help companies leverage their secret sauce will dominate how they work in the very, very near future. For this one, it's a buy for me.
Joel: All right. Very, very nice. Very nice. All right. Did you guys know that the war of 1812 ended with a treaty signed in Ghent in 1814, war between America and Britain? No. No one, no one cares. Okay. Anyway.
Lieven: Yeah, I do, I do care, but I didn't know.
Joel: You didn't know? So there you go. You were born there. And the Treaty of 1812, the war of 1812.
Lieven: I was not born there.
Joel: That's a really sore subject with you, Lieven. Don't tell Lieven he is from Ghent, everybody. He will slice your ass.
Lieven: I used to live there, but I wasn't born there. It's not exactly the same thing.
Joel: It's a beautiful city.
Lieven: My twins were born in Ghent, so.
Chad: Oh, okay.
Joel: All right. So anyway, back to buy or sell. This company takes what most small companies might use, SharePoint, Google Drive, and I think probably make a little more intuitive, a little bit more fun, as we've seen in their YouTube videos. And by the way, if you have some extra time, go search Whale. Not the whale creature, but the company Whale, videos. It's pretty funny. So to me it's kind of a hybrid of upskilling standard operating procedures in a company that is usually boring. Throw in a little bit of community in there. I like their no-nonsense endorsement videos as well. If you're on the site, click on one of the endorsements. It's like a TikTok green screen behind... I mean, I don't know who produced it, but it's very underground looking, trying to be professional. It's hard to explain. Anyway, it's clear to me that they're doing more with less. They're fighting much above high, above their weight class. And for those reasons, Whale is a buy.
SFX: All right, all right, all right.
Joel: All right, Lieven.
Chad: Now if they weren't in Ghent, then maybe Lieven would buy them.
Lieven: No. I love Ghent. I love Ghent, I was just not born there. People should stop claiming I was born in Ghent. Definitely Bard should stop it. No, but I like the idea and I like the whole concepts. I think the hard part will be convincing people to take the time to document all their knowledge on the platform because if they don't have the time when there's a new colleague, to train him, why would they have the time to put all the knowledge on the platform? And also, I think a problem could be, people don't know they know something. There is lots of knowledge which is like subconsciously somewhere present and I use it when I need it, but it's not like it's top of mind and I'm going to document it right now. So I've been in this business for like you, for 20 years. I've known lots of stories, know lots of things, but I will not put them in a system like this. So some kind of knowledge will be documented, but the most important knowledge in my opinion will not be. But they're from Ghent, so definitely a buy, of course.
Chad: And, of course, you can always get all of that knowledge that Lieven's talking about on the Chad and Cheese Podcast Does Europe.
Joel: Of course, Lieven, can't get Bushmills out of Ghent. I don't know what monastery beer he'll be getting this week. But more power to him. And hopefully he'll bring some of that beer to Knebworth so we can all have a few glasses and pints and toast and cheer a good time in England. Lieven, we will see you soon.
Joel: You too, Chad. Until then, we out.
Chad: We out.
Lieven: We out.
Outro: Wow. Look at you. You made it through an entire episode of the Chad and Cheese Podcast. Or maybe you cheated and fast forwarded to the end. Either way, there's no doubt you wish you had that time back. Valuable time you could have 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.