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1Mby1M Deal Radar 2010: PAC Labs/GILD, San Francisco, California

Posted on Tuesday, Nov 9th 2010

PAC Labs creates solutions to help employers the best technology talent anywhere in the world. The company’s flagship product is GILD, a tool that PAC Labs describes as “where social gaming meets career advancement.”

Chris Markesky founded San Francisco–based PAC Labs in 2003 and remains chairman of the company. Sheeroy Desai joined PAC Labs in 2007 as CEO. Desai was the second employee and COO at Sapient, where he experienced firsthand the inefficiencies and costs involved in recruiting. The Internet and the advent of job boards have made it very easy for organizations to get access to resumes, creating a larger and more expensive problem – identifying the best job applicants from a sea of resumes. Keyword search technologies do not solve this problem, and recruitment remains an inefficient process. It was for these reasons that Desai and the team at PAC Labs created GILD, to try to answer the fundamental question of “How good is someone?” GILD was created to be a destination where professionals could truly be engaged and distinguish themselves while competing and winning prizes.

Using GILD, job seekers can create profiles, search for jobs, get feedback from companies on their applications, become certified in areas ranging from ASP.NET to XML, compete with other GILD members on technical challenges to win prizes such as iPods, and get advice on looking for a job. For employers, GILD provides a free option to post a job and a $50 “Gold” job posting fee – the difference is the promotional level; the $50 “Gold” job posting is promoted to the right, targeted audience. Desai says that the team is not trying to monetize GILD to its fullest potential at this time; rather, they are focused on building a large network of professionals and employers and are waiving all fees for large corporate employers for now. Members (technology professionals) get free membership; they are not charged a fee since GILD is working to significantly grow its member base.

PAC Labs likes to look at the size of their market through the total cost of “placements” in the market – placement is about people looking and finding a job. By 2015, the number of tech professionals in the U.S. market is expected to hit 5 million with a turnover rate of about 5%. This means that 215,000 placement transactions will be created. With the average fee in the U.S. is being $20,000 to place a professional, the market will be worth $4.3 billion. Doing similar math in a market like India, by 2015, the market could be worth $2 billion. India and the United States are currently key target markets for the PAC Labs/GILD network of technology professionals. Since its beta launch in May 2010, GILD has drawn more than 80,000 registered professionals. Business using GILD include Oracle, Sapient, eBay, Harrahs, Salesforce.com, PayPal, and Cognizant, among others.

In some ways, the recruiting and job search market has not changed much in the past few years; a great deal of money is still spent on brick-and-mortar recruiters. The space has been dominated by job boards (which provide access to lots of resumes) and recruiting agencies (which provide access to qualified and screened applicants). GILD’s is achieve a balance between the two – employers get access to lots of passive job seekers, and they are able to filter the best based on their scores. GILD aims to be different from traditional job boards and existing hiring tools by enabling technology professionals to compare themselves with other, connect, and advance in their careers. What has changed are that job boards are being commoditized and are consolidating (HotJobs was bought by Monster, as an example). LinkedIn, with its social network of professionals has been a game changer, but says PAC Labs, has not cracked the code of answering “How good is someone?”

PAC Labs has raised $10 million in private angel funding and is not seeking more capital at present. The team says that its investors have been very active in helping GILD strategically. Revenues range from $1 million to $5 million. The company’s main focus is on growing the professional base on GILD. Expected growth will come from leveraging social networks and viral aspects such as more ways for people to compete with each other, more game mechanics, more leader boards, and overall more social behavior.

Desai says that PAC Labs does not spend a lot of time thinking about an exit strategy and the company’s investors do not push this topic – there is no pressure and no timeline. The focus is on solving the problems facing professionals and employers. The company will take the route that is best for solving these problems, whether that means growing into a large company or a merger or acquisition.

Recommended Readings
The 1M/1M Incubation Radar: Hireplug
Deal Radar 2010: Jobscience

This segment is a part in the series : 1Mby1M Deal Radar 2010

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