Monster.com, the world's largest job-search Web site, became a monster success with a lot of help from an obscure entrepreneur from Indiana. The profitable dot-com grew into the behemoth it is today only after it merged in 1999 with a company started by Indiana businessman Bill Warren. But Warren has been making Monster's life miserable by airing company gossip to reporters during a bitter legal battle earlier this year.
Warren, 59, president of Monster between December, 1998, and May, 1999, started a rival company earlier this year, WOWemployers Inc. After 18 Monster employees decided to join the startup, Monster's parent company, TMP Worldwide Inc. sued Warren and the 18 hires for stealing trade secrets. Warren insisted he didn't steal either trade secrets or employees, but rather that employees fled Monster because they disliked what he called its "hedonistic" environment. Warren claimed that Monster Chief Executive Officer Jeff Taylor didn't conduct himself like an executive should. According to Warren, the way Taylor partied was too wild, and female employees were made uncomfortable by the way he danced with them.
CONFLICTING ACCOUNTS. None of this was made public in court or in legal documents. Instead, Warren spoke to reporters earlier this year about the problems and talked about making Taylor's behavior a focus of litigation. Taylor adamantly denied the allegations, saying he takes pride in treating his employees "like gold." Meanwhile, some of Warren's acquaintances began raising questions about him, including a business deal that had gone awry. In 1988, a company successfully sued him for civil fraud because he had claimed he had many paying clients ready to participate in a new business venture.
The Monster lawsuit was settled last month, and now the two former partners are competitors. And Warren predicts that he will attract Monster's attention again soon -- this time, for his efforts to help businesses automate the entire recruitment process.
Warren has a long history in the recruitment field. After working in human resources at Rockwell Intl. and General Foods, he got involved in automating the job-hunting process long before the Internet was a household name. For a while, he had a small company, Employment Telecom Systems, designed to match employers and job applicants via computer. In those days, the clients' lists could be accessed through both CompuServe and Prodigy.
CLEARING THE IN-BOX. Over the years, Warren kept perfecting his idea -- and technology kept advancing. In 1992, he launched the Online Career Center, the first job site on the Internet. TMP Worldwide, a New York employment-advertising agency, purchased Online Career Center in late 1995, around the same time that TMP had purchased the Monster Board, which Taylor had launched in 1994. For three years, both companies operated independently, but in early 1999, TMP merged the two businesses, and Monster.com was born. When the two companies merged, they used the back end of the Online Career Center system -- the technical guts -- and used Monster's name, its cute monsters, and its advertising themes.
Warren says he had a different philosophy than Taylor. He was more focused on the recruiters' needs, while Taylor was more concerned with the jobseeker. Their partnership didn't last long. By May, 1999, Warren resigned as president and was starting to dream of his next venture. He began WOWemployers in January, 2001, to address recruiters' most pressing complaint. They like getting resumes online, but they're getting too many -- and desperately need help sorting through the applicants and keeping track of them during the hiring process. WOW sells software that will allow companies to better automate their hiring processes. The software includes a talent folder, which lets employers search various resume vaults, and a briefcase, which lets employers store job-applicant tests, resumes, and profiles.
If Warren keeps addressing recruiters' current frustrations with online job boards, he may once again help revolutionize the employment process. By Rochelle Sharpe