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From Zero To One Hundred Million: CEO Marc Cenedella (Part 2)

Posted on Thursday, May 27th 2010

SM: Were you able to have the entrepreneurial finance role you had hoped for?

MC: I had some good experiences but overall, it was not what I wanted. I was there for two years and I realized that in private equity you are really just a finance guy. Private equity definitely has its function, it is important, and I am glad people do it. It is not what I was meant to do.

SM: That would be a tedious job for an entrepreneurial mind.

MC: Exactly. I was not suited for that type of work. I should have figured that out when I was interviewing for private equity jobs. I didn’t meet anyone else like me during that process. Spending my days debating whether a deal should be offered at a quarter of a percent above or below LIBOR was not my passion. The entrepreneur part of me is definitely much stronger than the private equity part of me. I wasn’t suited for that type of work, so I decided I had to leave and get back to my entrepreneurial roots.

SM: So what did you do next?

MC: I was back in New York City for the private equity job and the dot-com craze was going on. I started going around the city looking for a startup to get involved with, and I visited a bunch of different Internet shops. 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. 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. It was pretty easy to see that there was a strong connection there and that it was a function that fit the Internet environment very well. I also liked that HotJobs was a very entrepreneurial place.

SM: What did you do at HotJobs?

MC: I ended up running corporate development, business development, online marketing and content community onsite. I learned a lot about running and leading teams. I also discovered that people are just crazy about job information. Everyone wants to know what their job is worth, what other jobs they could be doing, and how much more they could be getting paid if they had a better job.

SM: What was the revenue ramp like at HotJobs before Yahoo! acquired it?

MC: We grew from $4 million in 1998 to $115 million in 2001 when we were sold to Yahoo!.

SM: Can you tell me about that sale? Why was the company sold?

MC: The interesting thing about that story is who we were sold to. Originally bought us, but they could not get the deal through regulatory hurdles. That is when Yahoo! bought HotJobs for $436 million. At the time of the sale, HotJobs was a strong number two in the marketplace. Yahoo! recently sold HotJobs, to of all places, for $225 million. HotJobs had fallen in the marketplace to a distant number five.

That happens a lot when a company gets acquired. The new company thinks they know better and want to institute their own strategies. They ignored what worked and changed the environment too much. It was definitely a motivator for me to leave.

This segment is part 2 in the series : From Zero To One Hundred Million: CEO Marc Cenedella
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