Job review site Glassdoor has agreed to be acquired for $1.2 billion by Japanese HR giant Recruit Holdings Co.
The Mill Valley, Calif.-based company operates a recruiting and jobs platform with 59 million active monthly users and data on more than 770,000 companies across 190 countries.
Glassdoor, founded in 2008, will remain a “distinct and separate part” of Recruit Holdings’ HR technology business segment. The Tokyo-based company has more than 45,000 employees; its last big acquisition was swooping up jobs site Indeed in 2012.
The all-cash deal is subject to regulatory approval, expected this summer.
“Glassdoor has transformed how people search for jobs and how companies recruit,” said Glassdoor CEO Robert Hohman, who will continue to lead the company. “Joining with Recruit allows Glassdoor to accelerate its innovation and growth to help job seekers find a job and company they love while also helping employers hire quality candidates.”
Hohman, an early Expedia employee and Microsoft veteran who spoke at the GeekWire Summit in 2015, co-founded Glassdoor with Expedia and Zillow co-founder Rich Barton, and former Expedia executive Tim Besse.
Glassdoor originally built a platform for employees to share information and post reviews about their jobs, salaries, and workplace environment. The company became known for its numerical ranking of CEOs and has also grown into one of the largest career sites in the world.
Glassdoor has job listings that, when paired with the wealth of data on companies — pay data; interview reviews; office photos; etc. — and individual leaders, makes for a valuable combination. It earns revenue from employers who pay to leverage premium features of the platform to connect with job candidates. Around 40 percent of companies in the Fortune 500 are Glassdoor customers.
Glassdoor had raised more than $200 million from investors like Benchmark, T. Rowe Price, Battery Ventures, Capital G, DAG Ventures, Dragoneer, Sutter Hill Ventures and Tiger Global. It had reportedly been an IPO candidate. Bloomberg reported that it was growing revenue by 30 percent year-over-year.
“Glassdoor presents a powerful platform that is changing how people find jobs everywhere,” Hisayuki Idekoba (Deko), COO of Recruit and Head of Recruit’s HR Technology Segment, said in a statement. “Glassdoor is an impressive company with strong leadership, mission, products, clients and employees. We are excited to help them continue to grow and deliver value to the job seekers and employers they serve.”
Creating a massive recruiting company was actually always the goal for Glassdoor. Speaking at a Zillow event in 2014, Barton explained the backstory of Glassdoor’s creation and noted its grand vision.
Related: As Glassdoor sells for $1.2B, co-founder Rich Barton shares advice: ‘Give power to the people’
“Our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) for Glassdoor is to become the largest recruiting company in the world, to help everyone find a job and company they love, to become ‘TripAdvisor for employment,’” he said in 2014. ” … This is a revolution in the jobs industry. One day we will become the most important company, the most important marketplace, in recruiting.”
Speaking later that year at a university event, Barton explained why user-generated content businesses like Glassdoor are successful.
“User-generated content models are magic,” he said. “And they are magic because the more reviews you have of hotels, for instance, the more it attracts users to the site. And the more users you have, of course, the more reviews you get.”
Asked how to get the momentum churning at consumer Internet businesses, Barton explained how Glassdoor paid for its first 10,000 reviews. The company also conducted telephone surveys of employees in order to collect salary data, and bought Facebook ads in order to target IBM, Microsoft and other employees at large companies.
“We spent money to start the flywheel,” said Barton. “And, if you really do have a flywheel, it is OK to spend money to get it spinning. It is OK to do un-economic things to hand-crank stuff, so long as once it is spinning you can take your hand away.”