Did Time Simply Run Out on Simply Hired Founder?

Venture capital is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it means ammunition to take your idea or product to heights it wouldn’t otherwise go. And on the other hand, someone owns your ass.

Swimming with sharks can be as exciting as it is deadly. And the clock is ticking all the time. Enter Simply Hired. Launched in 2003, it was part of the vertical search engine phenomenon that was happening at the time. The more successful brother-in-arms has turned out to be Indeed.com.

Simply Hired was founded by Gautam Godhwani, who, according to the old company page,

… co-founded the India Community Center to help bring the SF bay area community closer together. Before that, he was CEO and co-founder of AtWeb, an Internet 1.0 company acquired by Netscape/AOL in 1998. AtWeb made a product called Web Site Garage that helped millions of small businesses “tune-up” their websites and register them with all the leading search engines (yes, once upon a time there was more than one). Before the dot-com era, Gautam worked for several small businesses including HP, IBM, and Microsoft.

The company raised roughly $22 million, most of which hit the bank account between 2005-6. It’s roughly four times what Indeed raised.

Six years on and the clock has probably run out on Godhwani. The company announced a new CEO this week and has deleted its co-founder and now ex-CEO from its about page. His new title, according to a release, is Chairman.

Indeed selling to Recruit for an alleged $1.2 billion was probably the last straw for Godhwani, as investors likely saw that acquisition as a missed opportunity.

I often struggle with understanding how Indeed beat Simply Hired as the default job search engine for consumers and, more importantly, advertisers and employers. The answer, although complicated, might best be summed up by a former Indeed employee:

Differences in strategy and execution were the reasons Indeed won. Simply Hired wanted to pay for high profile partners like CNN. That sounds good but did not necessarily provide a good quantity or quality of traffic. Indeed focused everything on SEO and high-volume partners that were more under-the-radar. Simply Hired also struggled from a sales standpoint in that they were always the second option and copied many of Indeed’s features after they were already out there. They always seemed late to the game in terms or product, sales etc.

Well, now it’s someone else’s problem. The property still has a lot of traffic that can be monetized in new and possibly more effective ways. If it were me, I’d undercut everyone on cost-per-clicks and throw money at sites already leveraging Indeed’s content as backfill to switch in order to gain some market traction.

Not that anyone called me, of course, but there you go. They seem more focused on the opportunities around mobile right now, which isn’t a bad thing.

I really like Gautam. I wish him the best. He was probably pretty spent anyway. I’m sure he’ll land on his feet. His LinkedIn profile highlights Keepsy and Intuary as current board seats, which may be a glimpse into his future.

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