Some acquisitions are about founders cashing out and moving on to new adventures.
Others are about combining forces to build something even better together.
And other times, when a company opts to sell just a slice of its business, acquisitions act as a strategic pivot, allowing the seller to refocus on the core offerings that remain.
Improving job search with technology
Ladders’ founder and CEO, Marc Cenedella, knew from the time he graduated Harvard Business School that he wanted to focus on entrepreneurship, and he figured out online job search was a good fit for his ambitions, he said in a 2010 interview with blog One Million by One Million.
After starting a small scale import-export business and doing a stint in private equity, Cenedella looked around at the turn of the millennium dot-com craze and decided he wanted to get into technology startups.
“The problem was that most of the businesses I looked at did not make sense to me. They did not seem like they were applicable to the Internet,” he said in the One Million by One Million interview. “Then I came across HotJobs and it made sense. Information technology, which the Internet was really an extension of at the time, was all about information. Resumes and job listings are information.”
Intrigued by the space, Cenedella went to work for HotJobs as a senior vice president in 2000. After Yahoo! acquired HotJobs in 2002, he sought out his next entrepreneurial role, finding opportunity once again in the online recruiting space.
“My friends from business school started calling me asking where to find VP of marketing or finance jobs. I knew that those were not the types of jobs that you put on HotJobs because when you take a really good job and make it easy to apply to, everyone is going to apply to it. Those jobs need quality candidates, not quantity. That is when I realized that my next venture should do something with high-end job sites,” he explained in the One Million by One Million interview.
He launched a bare bones version of Ladders from his New York apartment in August 2003 and has worked in the space ever since.
Why Ladders sold its news business to Industry Dive
Over the years, Ladders expanded its offerings, launching a news section covering workplace issues in 2017 and producing a daily newsletter on the topics. But the company later saw a need to focus more on the core business proposition that had attracted Cenedella to online job boards in the first place — using technology to make the job search process faster and more painless.
Cenedella was an avid reader of the industry specific newsletters produced by Industry Dive and saw an opportunity to find a good home for this slice of Ladders’ business. “I’ve been a daily reader of HR Dive for the past two years,” he wrote in a 2021 post on the Ladders company blog announcing the acquisition of its news business for an undisclosed sum. “For me, in my industry, it’s the absolute best way to keep on top of what I need to know,” he added.
In a press release announcing the deal, he also spelled out the rationale for the sale. “This acquisition will allow Ladders to focus more on our core products such as Apply4Me, the online service that applies to jobs for you with just one click, and recruiting for 100k+ jobs,” Cenedella explained.
The deal allowed Cenedella to focus on Ladders’ core value proposition, and Industry News added Ladders’ 2.2 million active subscribers to its subscriber lists. “This is a perfect match to expand our carefully cultivated audience of business leaders and key decision-makers,” Industry News co-founder Sean Griffey said in the release.
“Sometimes you get lucky when you find a partner with shared values and culture. Huge thanks to Marc Cenedella and the greater Ladders, Inc team for making this one of the smoothest deals I can remember,” Griffey wrote on LinkedIn.
Cenedella declined to comment for this story.