ExecThread Looks to Change the Executive Recruiting Game


SUMMARY: The Founder and CEO of New York based ExecThread joins Chris Russell for an informative discussion on the origins of  the business after raising $6.5 million in venture capital. You'll hear how it started, what it does and where they are going.

LINKS: Joe Meyer, @ExecThread


Joe Meyer: This is Joe Meyer, Founder and CEO of ExecThread. And I'm next on the RecTech podcast. 

Speaker 2: Welcome to RecTech. The podcast where recruiting and technology intersect. Each month you'll hear from vendors shaping the recruting world. Along with recruiters who will tell you how they use technology to hire talent. Now, here is your host. The mad scientist of online recruiting, Chris Russell. 

Chris Russell: That's right. It's time for RecTech, the only podcast [00:00:30] that helps employers and recruiters connect with more candidates through technology inspired conversations. If you listen you'll hear both recruiters and HR Tech vendors talking about having used Tech to find talent. Today's show is a vendor edition. RecTech podcast is sponsored by our friends at Jobs In The US.


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All right, so my guest today says, quote, "Executive recruiting hasn't changed in decades and isn't designed to address the unique involving needs of senior level professionals and hiring managers.  We saw an opportunity to destruct the global talent acquisition market, which is loaded with inefficiency. [inaudible 00:01:27] give to get model andprovides professionals [00:01:30] with far greater access to hidden career opportunities and traditional recruiting methods." End quote. 

Joining me now from the New York City offices of ExecThread is Joe Meyer. Joe, welcome to RecTech. It's nice to have you.

Joe Meyer: Hey Chris, thanks for having me.

Chris Russell: So I got lots of questions for you. I'd like to start at the beginning, I guess. Around the origins of the business. Tell us how it all got started, if you would. 

Joe Meyer: Yeah, it's funny because when I was getting my MBA at the Wharton School, my professors would always [00:02:00] teach us to not put ourselves in the target market of whatever new venture we were going to start because we were outliers but in this case I am the target market. What I mean by that is, I was at Apple by way of an acquisition when I was planning my exit from Apple after being there for a little while and was starting to think about my next career move. 

I hadn't job searched in a little while and not at the executive [00:02:30] level in a little while but I started doing what every other executive does or most every other executive job seeker does, which is you're not necessarily going to job boards, you're not going to Indeed or Career Builder or even Linkedin to find jobs, at the executive level. 

What you're doing is, you're networking like heck trying to find word of mouth opportunities from people in your network, which is, a long laborious process, needle in a haystack and/ [00:03:00] or you're hoping you get approached by executive recruiters with opportunities targeted to you. The problem with that is that both are incredibly inefficient and both don't give you, the job seeker, the person who has to fill that role any control over the process. 

It's a very inefficient process that oftentimes doesn't yield the best results. For me personally, I found myself two to three months into the process of trying to find and discover jobs [00:03:30] and I was really no further along than when I started. The thing that's amazing about it is that you spend all this time and energy and leveraging connections in your network just to find out where the open [wrecks 00:03:43] are because they're not posted anywhere. 

The vast majority of the best jobs at the executive level are unpublished, not listed. You can't find them on any website or job app and to me that felt really inefficient and ineffective. 

Chris Russell: [00:04:00] I get that I know and referrals overall are definitely a big part of how many companies hire. Like you said, at the executive level, they're a little more hidden so what did the business begin to take shape as? Did you build some kind of e-mail list or something to start so it's more around that.

Joe Meyer: Yeah so I came up with two, I had two privacies, at first. One is I come from e-commerce ad tech and [00:04:30] location based services background. My last three start ups have been all about leveraging data and building profiles on our users behind the scenes in order to target messages and offers to them in a more targeted manner. So for example, we're all Amazon users for example and Netflix users and when we go on to those sites you know those very intelligent companies serve us opportunities to engage with them based on what they know [00:05:00] about them, right.  

That concept doesn't exist in the executive search arena.  I knew that the solution, the ultimate solution to the challenges of executive search, which ultimately comes down to poor targeting of candidates to jobs would ultimately, if you get access to intent data, then you could start building some really good profiles on executives and target [00:05:30] care to them better but I didn't know how to do that at first. The other premise I had when I started this was you know what, executive recruiters reach out to me. I'm an operating executive with jobs that they think are a good fit for me but oftentimes the jobs they reach out to me for while they're great jobs, they're not what I want to do next and they're targeting those jobs for me based on what I've done historically, based on what you've written on my Linkedin profile, not on what I want to do next. 

They don't even know if I'm in the market for a job and they don't [00:06:00] even know what type of job I'm looking to do next. So, for me what I said was "You know what, I know what I want to do next better than anyone and I know what I'm capable of better than anyone but the problem is I can't get access to the jobs because I'm in reactionary mode." So I thought to myself How can I get access to jobs that I'm qualified for, without waiting for an executive recruiter to send them to me and I thought, you know what, my peers other C Level C Suite executives throughout [00:06:30] cities like San Francisco and New York and Boston are probably hearing about job opportunities that are a good fit for them and they're probably a good fit for me so maybe we can collaborate and work together and share the job opportunities with one another and that was the genesis of ExecThread, literally a list serv that pooled the knowledge of executives together and enabled executives to contribute all the jobs that were coming across their desk that were great jobs that they weren't interested in pursuing but that [00:07:00] their peers could very well be a better fit for. 

At this point ExecThread is the largest aggregator of unpublished list of jobs in the world. We've created a community of executives throughout the world that are all contributing to the jobs that they're getting approached for but not interested in pursuing into a clearinghouse called ExecThread and then the members of ExecThread then pull job opportunities out of that clearinghouse that they're a better fit for [00:07:30] that wouldn't have otherwise come across their desk.

Chris Russell: OK so your members go essentially post these to ExecThread. Is it just simplycutting and pasting a job description from somewhere or is it just are they writing something for you?

Joe Meyer: They don't do anything. All they do is forward e-mail threads that they get from people in their network or from recruiters approaching them for jobs. They forwarded on to us and we do the rest and we create structured, [00:08:00] attributed, tagged job opportunities and we redisseminate those out back to our community members and we've created a pretty slick and unique point system, sort of a virtual currency, that facilitates the give to get model. 

So in other words, if I contribute jobs into the ExecThread network I get credit for that and then I can use those credits to take jobs out of the network so [00:08:30] when we share job opportunities with our members that all the members are contributing we don't disclose the name of the hiring company or the recruiting firm working on that search or the hiring manager. We don't even have an apply experience, which is rather unique.  What we do is, we tell you a lot about the job. We tell you the title, the function, the role, the Chios, the size of the company, the stage of the company in the industry and with that information you know a lot about that job [00:09:00] and you know if you're either more or less interested in it. 

If you're more interested in it based on that information we're sending you, then you redeem a point to find out the name of the hiring company. Once you know the name of the hiring company you are either going to be again, more or less interested. If you're more interested after finding out the name of the hiring company you exchange another point and you find out the name of the recruiter and the hiring manager and because all executives or most executives or highly networked people, [00:09:30] we give them the information they need to know to figure out how to get their foot in the door. Then they can start leveraging relationships now that they know where the open recs are. Before ExecThread, there was no way to find out where the open recs are.

Chris Russell: Okay.  You mentioned intent data before so does that mean you're going to be building up profiles on these executives, in terms of what type of jobs they want to do in the future?

Joe Meyer: You know what, this is and what I believe based on my [00:10:00] experience working at ebay, one of our e-commerce companies out there. Working for A.O.L. through an acquisition. One of the largest ad tech companies out there and then working for Apple, one of the largest [inaudible 00:10:12] companies out there. I believe that executives are no different than folks shopping on e-commerce sites in many ways, which is, you want to get relevant, targeted things sent to you, right. 

You don't want to be dealing with noise, [00:10:30] so to answer your question Chris, I don't think that executives appreciate or like getting approached by executive recruiters with dozens upon dozens of jobs that aren't a good fit for them. I think they would rather get approached for the jobs that are in line with where they want to take their career and if they do receive those job opportunities, they're going to be more apt to engage with them. So to answer your question, what's pretty unique about ExecThread, among other things is that, [00:11:00] we know what job you're qualified for based on what jobs you're submitting into the network because these are the jobs that executive recruiters are sending your way. 

So without ever looking at your Linkedin profile, we know what jobs you're qualified for. Which is pretty unique in and of itself. Then because of our point system, where you can't get information from ExecThread, in terms of job opportunities without giving into the network and without redeeming points. It's like [00:11:30] frequent flyer miles where you're going to use them only when you need to use them so we know when our members are looking. We know how actively they're looking. More importantly, we know what they're looking for. We know if the executive in Chicago is interested in moving to L.A. We know if the business development executive is interested in moving his or her career into marketing or if the CTO is interested in moving his career into product management. We know if the small company executive's interested in moving back [00:12:00] into a big company or the big company executive's interested in going to a small company.

This is all information that we know, in an automated fashion today, in this structured data fashion on our members and it's information that executive recruiters literally need to have phone calls and e-mail threads with candidates to find out today, which the last time I checked that's pretty not scalable and not very efficient. 

Chris Russell: Yeah you know we've seen attempts at this before Joe in terms of thinking about sites like the ladders and originally with [00:12:30] a hundred K stuff and sixfigurejobs.com, for example, come to mind. What makes you think you can create this niche, in other words? There was a few threads on Facebook about you and one of the talents of the product groups I belong to and they're a little skeptical about the niche. What makes you think you can crack this. 

Joe Meyer: Yeah, a couple of things. So, first off, as I mentioned before, I'm the target audience. I've been an operating executive for the past 20 years in my [00:13:00] career and I have big company experience, as well as small company experience.  I've started companies that have been sold to Apple, AOL. Worked as an executive at eBay.  Now I'm the target audience and I see the problem firsthand from both sides of the table. One is, I'm targeted by executive recruiters and oftentimes I'm not getting job opportunities from them that are a good fit for me, which is a problem.  Secondly, I've worked with executive recruiters as a hiring manager and [00:13:30] the percentage of time that you wind up with the right candidate is not the majority, so there's a problem in this industry and I've seen it from both sides of the table. Secondly, I've done it before. This is my third startup, the last two have been very successful and I know the playbook. That being said, you know comparing it to sites like the ladders or I don't even know the other side you mentioned.

Joe Meyer: I'm taking a fresh perspective, yeah, I'm taking a fresh [00:14:00] perspective and the reality is, is that those sites didn't offer anything differentiated or appealing to highly accomplished executives. Highly accomplished executives want to be approached with great targeted jobs. The fact that we ExecThread are aggregating job opportunities that you cannot find on any [00:14:30] other job site any other job app, any other job platform out there. These are jobs that you can only find out about if you're lucky enough to be approached by the executive recruiter. 

We figured out a unique way to aggregate them and create structured data around them and in turn to find out a lot about our members in the process and use that information to the benefit of our members. So I think that the answer your question Chris is keeping our members first, focusing in [00:15:00] on their needs and these are most important people in the process.  It's not the recruiters, it's not the hiring manager, it's not the hiring company. 

The most important person in the process and I think a lot of people forget this is the person who has to go take that job and work at it for five years and be successful. That's the person or the most to gain or lose and right now in the world of executive search, the executive is not being placed first. They're the ones most disadvantaged by the way that the executive search [00:15:30] industry is set up and. It's similar to, in my opinion, it's similar to when baseball didn't have free agency and you had to stick with one team, right. Executives can find out about where the job opportunities are. The information is being withheld from them. That's crazy, crazy in my opinion and it needs to change and we're going to change it. 

Chris Russell: I think that scarcity of content you have will really be a magnet to these executives. From my perspective, just being in the job market business as long as I have. [00:16:00] I think you're on the right track there. You've raised 6.5 million in funding from several investors including Caning partners and Javelin venture. What was it that convinced them to invest and I ask that more because you're kind of [inaudible 00:16:15] right now. You don't have a product yet, far as I know that you're selling to recruiters, so talk more about that if you would. 

Joe Meyer: Yes, I can't answer for my investors why they invested, I can only suspect. [00:16:30] So, I incubated this for a good year before I raised money. I self funded it.  I worked on it as a side project. A lot of sweat equity went into this and I got to prove a concept with this before I ever raised a dime and proof of concept to me was twofold. One was ... Well, threefold. One was that executives would actually share job opportunities that are being targeted to them, [00:17:00] that they're not interested in pursuing, that they would actually share those job opportunities with a clearinghouse such as, ExecThread. So we proved that and we nailed that. 

Secondly, many, many executives have found their next job through ExecThread, which is amazing if you think about it considering one we don't have an apply experience and two we're not currently playing matchmaker. We don't have a relationship with hiring companies introducing them to candidates. We don't have relationships [00:17:30] with the recruiters and connecting them to candidates. We're literally just sharing information with our members that they should have probably found out about otherwise if executive recruiting sourcing mechanisms were effective and our members were getting jobs through the information they're finding out on ExecThread, without us playing matchmaker yet.  That's extremely validating and another proof point. 

Then, lastly is, I think any investor [00:18:00] is going to look to see how committed the founder is and I'm someone who's been there before, done it. Sold companies to Apple and AOL.  I was at Apple and I had a big job at Apple and you know the fact that I left that job to go pursue ExecThread full time and jump in head first, I think says a lot, as well. 

Chris Russell: By the way, what was your experience at Apple like? [inaudible 00:18:26], if you can talk about that. 

Joe Meyer: Apple's a great company. [00:18:30] We were fortunate to be acquired by them.  I learned a lot at the company. It's a very successful company for a reason. There's a lot of smart people there doing really great things and I was fortunate enough to spend almost three years there.

Chris Russell: Nice.  Again, the iPhone ten Joe. 

Joe Meyer: My youngest son who's a Apple aficionado is begging me to but I think it's more because he wants to play with it more than he wants to see me use it. 

Chris Russell: [00:19:00] Just a couple more questions for you Joe, as we talk here about ExecThread. Can you define what is an executive in your eyes and who do you want to join the site. 

Joe Meyer: Yeah, so, I think one of the unique differentiators about ExecThread versus maybe some of the other apply of jobs, which, again, our supply of jobs you can't find on other site out there, including the ones you mentioned. The other differentiator is [00:19:30] we don't take a mass viewpoint on this opportunity. Meaning if you're an executive or you have executive level potential and you're an aspiring executive and you're on that path, you're someone that should be a part of this ExecThread network. If you're a college student or a recent grad or early in your career or in a nonprofessional sort of [00:20:00] job, it's probably not a good fit to be part of this network.  

So we've built very sophisticated software that enables us to know a lot about you when you sign up to the service and apply for the service. It's very analogous to when you're applying for a credit card. You give them a little bit of information up front on yourself and they run a lot of sophisticated algorithms and base calculations on you to determine [00:20:30] whether they issue you credit or not and on what terms. We've built very similar software to help us figure out who's who but then we layer it on with a human layer, evaluation layer, as well, where we not only take the recommendation that our software is suggesting for anyone who applies to ExecThread, but we also put anyone who wants to join ExecThread and their profile in front of current ExecThread members to weigh in [00:21:00] on. 

We take the viewpoint of both the algorithms plus human to make determinations as to whether you would benefit from a network like ExecThread. I think if you ask any ExecThread member what is so appealing about it to them, in addition to getting access to proprietary jobs, they'll say that the jobs are amazing, they're the best I've ever seen out there and the quality of your network is extremely high.  Well, it's because [00:21:30] the quality of the network is extremely high. You have very strong operating executives that are part of this all the way from C level executives of the public companies down to you know directors and senior directors at private companies, at startups. We keep the quality of the network very high on both the member side as well as the supply side and that's a unique differentiator for us.

Chris Russell: Right. The big question for me Joe is [00:22:00] how will recruiters use this and what's the plan to make money off of them?

Joe Meyer: We're still early days and we just announced our funding, we just announced you know the service that we've been operating under the radar screen for the last year while we've been refining it and enhancing it and getting it to the point of being ready to announce, which we did last week and now the next step for the company is to find product market fit and to start monetizing and commercializing it. 

I don't have the specific [00:22:30] answer for you today of what that commercial offering's going to exactly be but I will say this, which is, the reason I started this is because I believe there's an inefficiency and a lack of data when it comes to what professionals are being targeted with what jobs. Anyone who's trying to match make between exec level job opportunities and openings and candidates that might be a really good fit for that job whether it be executive [00:23:00] search firms and executive recruiters, in-house recruiters, in house talent acquisition folks, HR folks or hiring managers. 

I think we're going to have a very interesting service to offer them based on very unique data and we're not going to you know we're not asking our executives, our members to create profiles. We're not asking them for their resume or CV. We're not even asking them for their Linkedin profile in the majority of cases. Instead we know [00:23:30] a lot about our members based on their engagement and their interaction with our content which again are these proprietary jobs and that tells us a lot about our members and I think that information can be used to benefit our members and if you put that information in the hands of people that are trying to find high quality talent, I think we can help them do their job better. 

Chris Russell: Well certainly it's an interesting concept Joe. I definitely wish you well. Last [00:24:00] question, are you hiring, at ExecThread.

Joe Meyer: Yeah, we are. We have around close to ten job openings. What's funny is Not many, if any of them, are of the level that you know of the jobs that are in our network as it is. I think we received 500 inbound expressions of interest in inquiries for I think seven or eight job openings we had just in the last [00:24:30] week alone. You know and that tells you that's both a good thing and a bad thing. It's great, it's very, it makes me feel good that people want to work for ExecThread but it's pretty you know it's a lot of noise at the same time sort of figure out you know good candidates are. There's a lot of companies trying to solve that problem at the lower level. You know that's not that's not a space we're in and but we are hiring and you know we're [00:25:00] a tech startup and you know we're looking for really strong developers data science folks data management folks and you know product management folks.

Chris Russell: There you go. Well Joe Myers from execthread.com. Thanks very much for joining me today.

Joe Meyer: Yeah thanks for having me Chris.

Chris Russell: That will do for this edition of the RecTech pod cast. Thanks again to our sponsor. Remember check out jobs us for your local hiring needs.  You can subscribe to the show via iTunes, Google play or Sound Cloud. Please leave a review if you like content. [00:25:30] I'd like to see some comes from the audience or mentions from social media hashtag read take and follow me Chris Russell or visit RecTech Media.com funny audio in which for the show on our blog just a reminder on the consultant helps both each our technology firms and employers get more clients or candidates or more of.Thanks for listening.