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2022 Best Podcast Award
Disability Solutions

Stepstone says Au Revoir!

Acquisition, investment, and head-scratching aren't stopping when it comes to workforce news and commentary in Europe. That's what Lieven and Chad & Cheese bring Kelly's Tim Pröhm, VP, KellyX Digital Innovation Lab, to the podcast for insight into 1) Cornerstone OnDemand's latest deal, 2) Stepstone pulling out of France and 3) Circular's latest investment round (buy-or-sell alert!). Oh yeah, Elon might even make a cameo this week too.


Disability Solutions works with employers each step of the way as consultative recruiting and engagement strategists for the disability community.

INTRO (9s):

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.

Joel (29s):

Oh yeah. Billionaire Elon Musk challenged Russian president Vladimir Putin to single combat on Twitter last week with the stakes being Ukraine. Inappropriate? Tone deaf? You bet, but that's kind of what we do on this show. You are listening to the Chad and Cheese podcast does Europe. I'm your cohost Joel, "no fly zone" Cheeseman.

Chad (51s):

This is Chad "final countdown" Sowash.

Lieven (54s):

And Lieven "totally back on Reddit" Van Nieuwenhuyze.

Joel (58s):

And on this episode, EdCast gets Cornerstoned, StepStone says au revoir. That's my French. And the circular puts out the velvet rope for IT professionals. Let's do this.

sfx (1m 13s):

Europe has a bunch of countries in it.

Joel (1m 15s):

You're back on Reddit?

Chad (1m 16s):

Back on Reddit. How did this happen?

Lieven (1m 20s):

I asked and they allowed me.

Joel (1m 21s):

I wrote a check. I wrote a check. I gave them my credit card.

Chad (1m 26s):

You wrote a strongly worded letter. Is that what happened?

Lieven (1m 30s):

And I kept complaining until they tried to get rid of me, I guess. And I promised not to do it again.

Chad (1m 37s):

Okay. Well that's good. Your promises and yeah, you're Belgian so for the most part, you know, you're polite, so that's not, that's not bad. That's okay.

Joel (1m 44s):

Okay. And we have sidelined our European intro. You brought to our attention and we kinda thought about it anyway, that with the current state of Russia, Ukraine, that it was sort of tone deaf to have the intro that we had. So for the time being until the world goes back to somewhat normal, we will be using our typical Chad and Cheese intro.

Chad (2m 7s):

Until you build a unicorn one.

Joel (2m 11s):

The unicorn songs should be in there somewhere. So, we'll work on the intro folks until the world goes back to normal.

Chad (2m 18s):

We'll have fun. We'll have fun. So we've got somebody waiting in the wings out there. Are you ready?

Joel (2m 24s):

I'm ready. Mystery guest.

Chad (2m 25s):

Here we go. Straight out of Kiel, Germany kids. He's the VP of KellyX Digital Innovation Lab. Put your hands together for Tim Oliver Pröhm. That was great. Wasn't it, Tim?

Tim (2m 41s):

You're doing great Chad. Thanks for having me. It's really, really great pleasure to be here on the show. I think it's been four or five years in the making Chad. I think Kelly hit it five years ago. You and I met at HR tech in Las Vegas and like never really worked out to be on the show. I still remember that you and I hung out at the bar. And then I think Gary Crispin came along and talked about his experiences at Burning Man, which left me and you speechless.

Joel (3m 3s):

I think he's saying Germans like foreplay.

Chad (3m 6s):

Yeah. If you, if you spend five minutes with Gary, he's going to bring up Burning Man. Okay. And that's cool, but that's generally what's going to happen before we get moving, though. Tim, give the listeners a little bit more about you, springtime in Dusseldorf. What do you do? Give us the, the sexy part of Tim. Let me hear that.

Tim (3m 25s):

Yeah, absolutely. Honestly that's what I do all day and people truly believe it. So honestly, 20 is year in the recruiting industry started as a recruiter, kind of like in the agency space. Held several roles. with a big competitor of Kelly services, which is my employer now. I've been with Kelly for six years now. And what I do, I focus on innovation and digital transformation for the organization. So we have a kind of organized structure that we call the Kelly X Innovation Lab and the idea behind it is that we want to identify issues that our customers or the industry has in a more structured way, kind of like apply a lot of design thinking, a lot of ideation and do a lot of prototyping to make sure we get something tangible in front of our customers.

Tim (4m 11s):

And then eventually kind of build out full product solutions. And that's kinda like what I do in my organization with my team, you know, kinda like the staffing industry has always been very traditional. So you have an idea. Customer is asking about a specific kind of requirement they have you build something, but you really, really don't use a very structured approach to really identify customer needs holistically, you don't really think about experiences holistically and kind of like I think in our industry, it's very, very important is we interact with talent every day to really take a good look at how our consumer facing industries are working because that's uncomfortable. That's the experiences that kind of talent and also customers really require from staffing organizations, but also from kind of like internal HR or anything.

Chad (4m 58s):

Tim, you're the mad scientist over at Kelly, which is why they put the X after it is. Is that what I'm hearing?

Tim (5m 4s):

That's the idea. And finally quick anecdote, it kind like during one of the QPRs with one of our largest clients at Kelly, I was about to present on innovation and then kinda like the customer account manager from Kelly actually kinda like announced me as the mad scientist. So I dunno if I like it?

Joel (5m 22s):

Leave it to the German free to ask for a Twitter bio and he goes right into work. Normally I'd frown on that, but being a German work probably is your life. So we'll go with that. We'll go with that.

Tim (5m 33s):

This is what it is. I mean, everything else is boring.

Joel (5m 35s):

It is what it is.

Tim (5m 36s):

What it is if you're in Germany.

Joel (5m 38s):

Well, welcome to the show, Tim. We're happy to have you here. Should we get into some shout outs gentlemen?

Chad (5m 44s):

Shout outs! That's right.

Joel (5m 45s):

I'm gonna give a shout out to Europe. I know that sounds a little bit plain, but the Ukraine Russian situation, I've been so heartened every day with how much Europe is supporting the refugees, fleeing Ukraine. But a recent story in the New York times I think is worth noting and I wanted to bring it up and shout outs. According to the times, job boards are overflowing with offers dedicated to Ukrainian refugees as businesses and governments, fast track access to employment. German companies are touting thousands of jobs for Ukrainian refugees, Portuguese firms promise language training for Ukrainians looking for work and Lithuania businesses are providing onsite childcare to help Ukrainian women move seamlessly into the workplace.

Joel (6m 34s):

Apparently the speed and scope occurring is rare for the EU, but 3 million Ukrainians fleeing are being placed on a fast track for protection and employment as governments, waive visa requirements and provide almost instant access to labor markets and education while war brings out the worst in human beings. Sometimes it can also bring out the best. Shout out to Europe.

Chad (7m 1s):

Unification. Where's the big applause?

sfx (7m 3s):


Joel (7m 3s):

Airhorns that's what's up. Unification.

Chad (7m 5s):

So off, off of that, I've got to go ahead and give a shout out to Dennis Tupper who actually posted on LinkedIn earlier today. The following information from NASDAQ, Ukraine is one of the USAA's biggest partners of reliable and scalable offshore tech talent. In fact, the country is ranked fifth out of the top 25 global talent exporters. The market is worth 6 billion in Ukraine's economy and over 200,000 of their IT professionals are employed as offshore resources. Ukraine has over 130,000 engineer graduates per annum compared to the US's 237,000 graduates and the US is eight times larger.

Chad (7m 51s):

So you can see Ukraine is doing a hell of a lot of work on the IT side of the house, but we currently have a global supply shortage of IT professionals and this war ain't helping kids. So big shout out to Dennis and putting that information out there. And this demonstrates how it's impacting our industry and in the globe.

Joel (8m 11s):

Tupper in the house. Nice shout out. Lieven?

Lieven (8m 12s):

I also have a shout out to the European people, but more specifically, very young European people. Apparently people between Sorry, decent, but I heard people between 18 and 34 finally decided to quit their jobs. Apparently 50% is going to quit our jobs in the next year. And they're bringing the great resignation to Europe, which has of course a very good thing for our business. So thank you, young European people.

Chad (8m 42s):

Do they say why? Do they give any reasons why? Because in the US I mean, there are many reasons, but obviously wages, shitty jobs, being called essential, and then not being treated as essential.

Joel (8m 56s):


Chad (8m 57s):

Yeah. Childcare. I mean, so there plenty of these different reasons here in the US why are you seeing that in Europe? Does it say?

Lieven (9m 4s):

I'm sure I said it, but I didn't read it. So I don't know.

Joel (9m 6s):

I might be able to chime in on this Tim, the great resignation in Europe. Any thoughts?

Tim (9m 11s):

Yeah, honestly, I mean, I think that labor markets are really tight all over Europe. I mean, demographics are horrible when you think about kind of like new kids being born and new kind of like talent flowing into the marketplace. And I think there are just better opportunities out there. Companies are paying higher wages. So I think similar to the US you would see people who kind of just feel that they can kind of make a better cut when they leave. And I think also kind of what I see with a lot of kind like friends and also people I know here all over Europe, like we've been heavily focusing on remote work over the last two years. I mean, COVID restrictions were very, very tough all across the European Union. And if you work from home, then at some point in time, the question is, what's keeping you on the job, because realistically, if you work from home today, you could work for somebody else from home tomorrow, the only difference is that you could probably going to get another laptop delivered by UPS, but realistically kinda like the changes or the boundary to kind of move to another job has been lower than ever before.

Tim (10m 13s):

Think about it.So it's not just a big impact of work from home experiences and, you know.

Joel (10m 19s):

I've always been surprised and considering healthcare, like in America, big, big reason why people stay at employers is because they get healthcare. Whereas in Europe it's a universal situation. So I'm surprised the great resignation hasn't been an ongoing thing in Europe, just because the ability to move and still have healthcare has been there for decades.

Chad (10m 43s):


Lieven (10m 43s):

Just reading the article right now, 59% of younger workers claim they've missed out on promotions. So they feel a bit disappointed and they quit. I call it rage quitting and then a 66% feels it has something to do with COVID-19, but it's too much information, I'm going to skip this. 70% of these workers are thinking something else. So basically a variety of reasons, but once again, good for our business.

Joel (11m 9s):

It's like a topic that we might get into at the E-Congress in Ostend. Lieven, you want to tell the listeners about your upcoming event in May?

Lieven (11m 17s):

For those few people who don't know yet, May 6th, we have the biggest E-recruitment Congress in Belgium. We're holding it in Osten, Belgium. It's a series arts. We're going to be talking about e-Sports about all kinds of interface. We're going to talk about virtual recruitment, virtual employer branding, the impact COVID has on the great resignation in Europe et cetera.

Joel (11m 44s):

And don't forget, Chad and Cheese are going to be there everybody. Chad and Cheese are going to be there.

Lieven (11m 50s):

I keep forgetting, mentioning you, but of course you will.

Joel (11m 53s):

Well, you know, we're already on the marquee, so everyone knows what's up. But yeah, Chad and Cheese and many friends of Chad and Cheese will be at the conference.

Chad (12m 1s):

Not to mention we've got Recfest. We've got a bunch of different events. Just go to, click on events in the upper right-hand corner, see where we're going to be and what you can buy us a drink. Sounds like a good time.

Joel (12m 22s):

Or two.

Chad (12m 23s):


Joel (12m 23s):

All Right. Cornerstone on Demand, a leader and adaptive cloud-based HR software solutions. This week announced it is entered into a definitive agreement to acquire EdCast, a learning experience platform, commonly known as LXP. Terms of the transaction, which is expected to close in Q2 of 2022 are not disclosed. We never liked that together Cornerstone and EdCast said "they hope to accelerate value for customers with innovations and experiential learning content and skill building, and a unified and scalable talent infrastructure designed to transform learning into a connected engine of growth, agility and mobility for people in business." This acquisition is the first plan transaction by cornerstone, since joining the Clearlake portfolio in late 2021.

Joel (13m 11s):

Not sure this is all that exciting, but Chad's favorite industry thought leader, Josh Berson said about this deal quote, "while this may not be a huge deal financially, it will have a huge impact on the corporate learning market setting off reverberations for years to come" end quote. Is everyone else feeling the reverberations or is this deal a little overblown, Tim?

Tim (13m 32s):

No, honestly, I think it makes a ton of sense because when you take a look at LMS today, I think it's pretty lame. So realistically.

Chad (13m 43s):

Especially Cornerstones.

Tim (13m 44s):

Well, I'm not going to comment on that, but when you think about how HR departments are using LMS systems today, it's mainly to roll out global policies or global compliance training. Like have everybody participate in GDPR training once per year, but it's really following like the old school approach. You basically have a virtual instructor in front of you, everybody else is kinda like sitting in front of their screens and then they're following kind of like the content it, at some point in time, they need to complete a quiz. So it's not really a rich experience. And it doesn't really cater to the individual needs of the viewer or the talent that's kind of like actually using this technology.

Tim (14m 26s):

So, and I think kind of like, the learning experience platforms is something that's definitely changing, how companies and talent actually is consuming training. I think there needs to be better, something better out there than just kind of like catering the same content to everybody. And I think kinda like also a company like Cornerstone will feel under pressure from a lot of kinda like skill-based learning platforms out there, like Udemy or Coursera or EdEx that actually provide kind of high level content at a very, very cheap price point. So I think it's the natural move. I think it's something that Cornerstone had to do because I think at some point in time, LMSs, as we know them today will just die. Just my humble opinion.

Lieven (15m 7s):

I tend to agree. I've been following corporates, educational movies for over 20 years. I guess one thing in common they're utterly boring. So I don't think this is going to change a lot. I mean, the companies who have to provide the educational movies and the content, and if they provide something boring, no platform will change it. I'm kind of a big fan of LinkedIn Learning. I know it's not very happy to be a fan of LinkedIn Learning that they do have so much content. There's something for everyone. And I feel this might become a big competitor for Microsoft, for LinkedIn, but I have to see it's all about content. And I really don't know what content you have to offer.

Lieven (15m 48s):

Need to check.

Joel (15m 48s):

Yeah. I mean, a little context. Cornerstone is a billion dollar company. So this is not some scrub, you know, business on the sidelines doing some, some random deal. They tout more than 75 million users and manage the back office learnings of more than 6,000 companies. Also like all acquisitions, Cornerstone companies or customers are going on are now going to look at EdCast where they didn't before. And obviously all the EdCast customers are going to take a look at Cornerstone for their solution provider. So from that perspective, it's positive, but I kind of agree with everyone. This is no slam dunk. There's a ton of competition on both ends.

Joel (16m 27s):

And you've already mentioned some, but you know, you look at Degreed, WorkDance, Assess, Success Factors have their own solution. LinkedIn Learning, Google Career Certificate, Coursera, Tim mentioned it's a positive development and probably something that they had to do, but there are no reverberations that I'm feeling quite frankly. I think it's a kind of a snoozer for the most part. Chad?

Chad (16m 51s):

No good vibrations for you. Huh? Quick question though. How much do you think Cornerstone paid Josh Berson to have somebody else shadow write this article. I mean, seriously, you know, Josh doesn't have anything to do with these fucking articles. He throws it out to like another analyst. Somebody else writes it. Yeah. Anyway, anyway, I'm sick. I'm just fed up with seeing Burson all over the fucking place, knowing he's doing hardly any of this fucking work.

Joel (17m 17s):

Did Berson sleep with your girlfriend in high school. Like why is it?

Chad (17m 20s):

And he's like old enough to be my dad, I think anyway.

Lieven (17m 27s):

Did he sleep with girlfriend was the question?

Joel (17m 32s):


Lieven (17m 32s):

Walking around.

Joel (17m 33s):

Lieven wants to know. Lieven wants to know.

Chad (17m 36s):

It's a possibility. It's a possibility.

Lieven (17m 37s):

Yeah. Too old guys. IDK.

Chad (17m 38s):

Okay. Say so if you remember, I couldn't and I still can't get behind the brand spanking new cat anus logo that they just came out with, but I can, I can get behind this Cornerstone at its core is a learning and development platform. Period. Every other piece of tech is just an attempt to increase wallet share with L & D clients. So Cornerstone at its heart is not a core talent platform. It's L & D, which is why go figure. I like this. I think we can probably all agree that companies should be re-skilling and up-skilling current employees to drive retention through internal mobility.

Chad (18m 19s):

Well, Cornerstone's internal mobility product today is pretty much shit, but with new tech, like EdCast, it could evolve in capture more market share. Again, I'm a big fan of L & D company like Cornerstone upgrading. I mean, they're pretty much a dinosaur at this point. I can't imagine the amount of technical debt they're going through right now. If you get an opportunity to acquire new, fresh tech like this, you do it. And just remember beyond L & D it's really just the normal smoke and mirrors play, artificially build up talent, a total addressable market. So I love this because it's focused and they're owned by Clear Lake so they've got a ton of cash.

Chad (18m 59s):

I hope to see them doing more of this, to gobble up more on the L & D side, focus on these up-skilling and re-skilling, and actually give employers an opportunity to do something worth a shit in internal mobility. But because today, nobody is.

Joel (19m 17s):

Here's a question for the panel. How much of this is going to be driven by the actual job seeker slash employee. In other words, how excited am I as an employee to get expanded education from EdCast or a company that no one else has heard of versus I can get a Google Career Certificate, or I can go to LinkedIn Learning and get a LinkedIn certificate. You know, like I, I think that the consumer/employee is going to drive, what's going to be the most successful. I personally don't think that we were going to live in a world where, Hey, if I have an EdCast certificate that I'm going to see mobile upward mobility in my career.

Joel (19m 58s):

I might have upward mobility in the actual organization that gave me that education. But if I'm an employee and you know, the great resignation and all that, like I'm going to want to have a brand that people recognize, not brands that people don't know. Thoughts?

Tim (20m 12s):

Yeah. I agree, honestly, and I feel that kind of visibility of the new acquire talent is the most important thing. If you have like something I talked about EdEx kinda like, for example, in the beginning where you have something where you complete the degree, you have a one-click integration, you can upload your blockchain powered certificate on LinkedIn. Then everybody knows what you've completed. Where as if you have like an EdCast certificate that you can use internally, that's part of your kind of like digital file that's probably not so compelling. The bigger thing, however, and this, like one of the experiences I had over the last like 20 years is kind of telling them the employees, they need to have some of a motivation to go through these courses because realistically, like when I kind like hired people in the past, everybody's like, yeah, I want to up-skill yes.

Tim (21m 0s):

I want to develop myself. I want to take the next step in my career. And when you say, Hey, we have Skillsoft or any other platform, you can have free access, kind of go in, kind of do whatever you want. Just kind of focus on what you want to achieve. Then actually kind like after a couple of months later, you're looking and nobody's really taking the courses. So the question is always, what's driving motivation for employees to drive this forward. Is it like, Hey, if you don't do it, you're going to be out of a job or is it something that's really part of a tangible career development initiative within the organization. But if that's the case, then it's not only about the technology, it's more about the entire HR processes about kinda like, kinda like improvements in the overall retention process within the organization.

Tim (21m 47s):

So I think it's part of the bigger, bigger strategy that every company needs to go through. Kind of like better technology can go so far, but I think it's not only tech based.

Lieven (21m 56s):

I agree. And it's, I'm just going to give a small example. Last week, I had to give a lecture about bullying searches and I didn't have a presentation ready. So I thought I'm going to go to LinkedIn Learning. I'm going to steal a presentation from someone else and give it. That's what LinkedIn Learning is for. But then while browsing LinkedIn Learning, I found something about Logic Pro and I like making music. So I was interested in Logic Pro and that's the problem with these corporate, but firms, they don't offer something which isn't direct really related to the job. So I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn Learning because of finding some fun, something not strictly related to my job.

Tim (22m 36s):

So your vision is that actually companies allow people to kind of like educate themselves on music and stuff during work hours?

Lieven (22m 44s):

Yeah. why not it's like Google asks people to spend 50%, twenty-five percent of a time in something not strictly job related just to keep creative. So while working on Logic Pro I could make a Django for a podcast, for example. So there's always a way to get it related, but this is not something, not something HR will think about. There were only offer job related education and that's in my opinion, the thing which will not make it work.

Chad (23m 13s):

Yeah. Tim actually, you know, asked the question around motivation. I mean, and I agree there has to be some reason to be motivated to take these classes and it's called a promotion it's called, you know, pay raise those are the things that we're not seeing from internal mobility platforms today. When you start tying courses to projects and then also to the opportunity to, you know, get that new job. Maybe I'm in sales and I want to get into marketing or maybe I'm marketing and I want to get in sales. I can actually take a look at different projects, marketing projects, attach myself to that and take courses while I'm doing that project. We have to be smarter around how we up-skill and re-skill individuals.

Chad (23m 57s):

just being able to provide content that is in EdCast today without working with local community colleges and a lot of the online content that's out there today. That in itself, I think is just a total loser. I agree. I think this has to be something that is what is not just well-intended, it's something where the organization understands what they need, the skills, the bridging of those skills to get into those new positions.

Joel (24m 24s):

So it sounds like you're almost in favor of the company, not going with a brand like a Google or LinkedIn, because if it's a brand that they don't recognize, they're more likely to stay within the company and not take their shiny Google career certificate and find a job somewhere else.

Chad (24m 39s):

Well, if it's attached to a university that everybody knows and loves why not? Right? And, and again, you can take all of those and put them on LinkedIn, no matter whether it says EdCast or any of that stuff. So you can still put it out there. And I think that's what we're starting to see is that, you know, yes, Coursera and these other brands have brands, but I think in the future, it's not going to be as important. It's going to be all around the skills that you actually applied in that new job, whether you were upskilling to be in marketing and IT or whatever it was.

Joel (25m 14s):

And that's why we're launching the Chad and Cheese career certificate for the metaverse. All right. Let's take a quick break and we'll talk about some more cutting edge news in the industry.

sfx (25m 25s):

Europe has a bunch of countries in it.

Joel (25m 27s):

All right, kids let's talk StepStone, something the Europeans, particularly the German might find really interesting. So this is from our friends at AIM Group. StepStone, the German based online staffing platform and part of German media giant Axel Springer announced that it has shut down its operations in France. The company had a small presence in the country via its domain. In January of '21, the domain recorded around 300,000 total monthly visits, according to somewhere web. Was never a major challenger to the country's dominant recruitment marketplaces, which include Indeed and the HelloWork Network of job sites.

Joel (26m 10s):

France is the second largest economy in the EU. So what's going on here? What's up with StepStone, Tim?

Tim (26m 17s):

Yeah, honestly, I think it's a smart move. And as every kind of non-French person can tell you, France, a very, very specific market. Obviously very, very focused on kind of specific local rules, regulations, legislation so it's always a bit kinda like tricky to do business there. But I think the most important thing from my point of view is if you're late to the game, if you're not really generating enough traction, then what's the point of staying there? They're kinda like local local sites. You have Indeed that's very dominant in France. So the question is always does it make sense to spend money on keeping your French operation up or kind of do you do it like GE used to do it under Jack Welch many, many years ago where he said, Hey, unless I'm like first or second in my market, I'm going to go and spend my money elsewhere.

Tim (27m 6s):

So I think it's a logical move from my point of view. And I also believe that kind of StepStone and Axel Springer, they have a much bigger plan because when you take a look at the acquisitions they've done over the last, over the last years, acquired AppCast acquired basically integrated Good and Co acquired Maya. You can see that they're rebuilding and they're rethinking their overall business model because I mean, probably we all agree, kinda like traditional job posts at some point in time might go away. They might not, who knows? But it's not going to be a growth engine for StepStone.

Tim (27m 46s):

So I think kinda like pulling out, bundling all the resources into things on new business models and kind of building out their own native platform makes a ton of sense for me.

Joel (27m 56s):

And the French hate the Germans.

Lieven (27m 59s):

Yeah. I think they both deserve each other. But it might be a logical step. But then again, France is after Germany, probably the biggest market in Europe, they have, if I'm right 65, 67 million inhabitants? So it's a big market and like Tim says, they're always kind of special people saw focusing on themselves, speaking French. But Indeed succeeded in becoming the biggest one so why couldn't StepStone do it? And it's right today, our business model is totally outdated, their software is outdated. It's in fact, they don't have any reason left to exist. So that's probably why they're leaving France. But my question will be where are they going to stay?

Lieven (28m 42s):

Because for the same reason they could leave Germany, they could leave. They sort of have left Belgium. They're still here, but it's not like they making many revenue. So I think where are they going to hide, the UK?

Chad (28m 56s):

It could be. Yeah, I think finally we have a pullout story that has nothing to do with Russia or Cheeseman and college. Anyway. I mean, what's the point, Tim? I think a market shares the point. You're talking about the second largest GDP in Europe. I understand France is a much different country, culture and business landscape than Germany, but France's GDP being number two in the EU, just ahead of the UK. I would have expected StepStone to double down and dig into the market either through acquisition or spending money to drive the brand deeper. I think acquisition makes a hell of a lot more sense just because again, if you buy a brand that's known in the markets and it's not a quote unquote "German brand", then you can, I think you can run with something like that.

Chad (29m 42s):

Not to mention Axel Springer operates the leading real estate marketplace in France. So you would think that there's some synergies that are there, that they could use. I'm kind of stepping back and hoping that StepStone is trying to Netflix, you know, reinvent their own model. But I just don't see how this is going to help.

Joel (30m 0s):

Yeah. This is a quote from the group when they said, quote, "StepStone took the decision to terminate business activities in France at the end of '21. As StepStone, we aim to be among the top players in the markets in which we operate. This position was not achieved in France. Therefore we decided to focus our resources on other growth markets instead". That seems really convenient to me as the second biggest market in the EU. They already have established some businesses in the country. So to me it seems way too convenient to just say, Hey, we're a big company. We didn't get our market share that we wanted so we backed out.

Joel (30m 41s):

But I think Tim brings up a really good point in that. StepStone has been acquiring these technology focused products and services such as AppCast and Maya. The question I guess, will be, did they back out as a job site, but they're going to go back in as a technology solution. Although the job board might've been a good springboard, if you will, to get people using their tech services. So to me, this is a really curious move. I agree that StepStone is big enough that they could have thrown enough money at this. I don't know if it's a cultural thing. The string of the competition is huge, but it doesn't seem like it can't be overcome by someone like StepStone. So to me, this is really curious and I think only time will tell exactly what's going on.