Microsoft Buys Stake in CareerBuilder.com

May 10, 2007

The agreement gives MSN a piece of CareerBuilder.com, extends an existing deal between the companies until 2013, and adds in MSN's European partners.

In a deal valued at nearly half a billion dollars, Microsoft announced on May 9 that it has bought a minority equity stake in CareerBuilder.com, the job site owned by Gannett Co,, Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company.

The purchase agreement requires CareerBuilder to pay MSN up to $443 million over seven years, based on the traffic that MSN delivers. In a separate agreement, MSN announced that they have extended their agreement with CareerBuilder to be the exclusive content provider for their MSN Careers channel in the United States through 2013.

The updated partnership also includes international MSN sites. Most MSN Europe sites will have CareerBuilder as its exclusive engine by the middle of 2008, and several will roll out by the end of 2007, according to the companies' statement. This agreement, another seven-year extension, will also be based on performance.

"Microsoft's equity stake builds on this successful relationship and establishes a global alliance with one of the world's most ubiquitous technology powerhouses," said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder in a statement.

"It enables CareerBuilder to continue to grow faster in the U.S. than any other job site while leveraging a strong international platform to quickly enter new markets in Europe and all over the world."

Microsoft's relationship with CareerBuilder dates back to January 2004, when CareerBuilder became the exclusive job search engine for the MSN Careers channel in the United States. A large part of CareerBuilder's monthly traffic growth of 10 million unique visitors between 2003 and 2004 was a result of the MSN agreement. CareerBuilder now claims an average of more than 21 million unique visitors and 1.5 million job postings per month.

"Our strategic business relationship with MSN played a major part in CareerBuilder taking over as the industry leader in 2006, helping to drive critical levels of job search traffic," said Ferguson.

CareerBuilder's largest competitors in the job search space are Yahoo! HotJobs and Monster. Yahoo acquired HotJobs in 2001 for $436 million, and has international alliances with recruitment companies across Europe and Africa, including StepStone, CV Online and others.

Rumors swirled throughout 2006 that Google might have an interest in buying Monster. Monster Worldwide, the parent company of Monster, and TMP Worldwide sold Monster's European business in April 2006, and its U.S. business in August 2006. TMP became the parent company of Monster in 1995, a year after the job board was formed.

CareerBuilder began building a more aggressive presence in international markets in 2006 by launching sites in the UK, Canada and India. It bought job sites in Sweden and the Netherlands in April.

Copyright 2007 by Ziff Davis Media, Distributed by United Press International

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