Everyone's a bounty hunter: Stockholm's Jobylon turns your Facebook friends into referral fees
Three men and a woman in Stockholm, Sweden, who have been quietly running a profitable social jobs board startup, are today rolling out of a global platform that turns everyone on Facebook into a potential headhunter.
Jobylon's new platform, Jobylon Bounty, which is in open beta, lets you recommend your Facebook friends for jobs that companies are advertising through the platform. If the person you recommended gets hired, you collect a finder's fee – or a "bounty." Because this is recruitment, this can be serious money. For instance, one of the two US jobs currently on the platform – Jobylon partner Meltwater is seeking a software engineer for its office in New Hampshire – pays a bounty of $2,500. Bounties might sometimes take the shape of rewards, too, such as iPads.
The process is very straightforward: You sign up to Jobylon with Facebook, the service shows you a list of available jobs and – based on interests, education, and occupation – suggests people in your network, and even second-degree connections, who might be suitable for each of the roles. You click a "recommend" button and then select who from your list of friends might be good for the job. They get the recommendation notice via a private Facebook message and have to click accept. If they ultimately get the job, you, the "bounty hunter," get a notification with a button to click to collect your bounty. Jobylon itself only gets paid once a hire has been confirmed.
It's under-statement to say that recruiting is an over-crowded market. LinkedIn is the gorilla in the socially-driven room, but the likes of venture-backed competitors BranchOut, Xing, and Viadeo are all aggressively playing in the space too. None so far, however, are taking the "friends recommend friends" approach offered by Jobylon.
That's not to say Jobylon is assured of success. Its strength so far is in Sweden and Norway, where since 2011 it has been serving up job boards that are tied to social media. That business is profitable, allowing the startup to look outside the Nordic borders. However, it faces a catch-22 situation in the US, potentially the most lucrative market, because it needs companies to advertise their jobs on the site. To achieve that, it needs lots of people to sign up – but they're not going to sign up and stick around if there are too few jobs on the site... While it is only in open beta, having just two US jobs listed right now is nowhere near enough, and the company risks losing the interest of users who check out the service only to find there's nothing much happening on it.
The other worry for Jobylon is that LinkedIn, or perhaps even Facebook, could switch on a similar crowdsourced headhunting system within their own platforms, opening up a new line of revenue and crushing the small guy in the process. However, the fact they haven't done that so far at least presents Jobylon with a sliver of opportunity.
While it will be a tough road ahead for Jobylon, the little startup has so far proven it has some pluck. Co-founder and CEO Aref Abedi, who is also a programmer, is joined only by a lead engineer and an account manager – but the bootstrapped company is also looking to hire. Ironically, says Abedi, it has been too busy building its platform to be able to advertise on Jobylon Bounty. The only investment Jobylon has comes from Jørn Lyseggen, the founder of media monitoring company Meltwater, who you might recognize as Jobylon Bounty's only business-side customer in the US so far. Lyseggen serves as the startup's chairman.
[Picture via wallsonline.net]