As Monster Gets Eaten by Dutch Firm Randstad, a Dot-Com Pillar Falls

Another dot-com era relic has been acquired for a pittance compared with what it was worth in its heyday.

Monster Worldwide (NYSE: MWW), the parent company of job search website Monster.com, has agreed to be snapped up for $429 million by Randstad Holding, an Amsterdam-based firm that provides staffing and other human resources services.

Under the deal’s terms, Randstad will pay $3.40 per share in cash for Weston, MA-based Monster Worldwide, a nearly 23 percent premium to its closing price of $2.77 on Monday. That’s a far cry from what Monster was worth at its peak in 2000—more than $90 per share, and an $8.4 billion market valuation.

Monster is the latest dot-com era tech company to be acquired in the past couple of years. Two others—AOL and Yahoo—were each bought by Verizon in $4 billion-plus deals.

After the deal closes, Monster will continue operating as a separate and independent business, and will retain the Monster name. The company’s stock will no longer be publicly traded.

“In an era of massive technological change, employers are challenged to identify better ways to source and engage talent,” said Randstad CEO Jacques van den Broek in a prepared statement. “With its industry-leading technology platform and easy to use digital, social, and mobile solutions, Monster is a natural complement to Randstad.”

Monster traces its roots back to the 1990s, when it became a pioneer in online recruiting. It made a splash with its memorable “When I Grow Up” Super Bowl commercial in 1999, but things have mostly gone downhill since then.

The company survived the dot-com crash, but has struggled in the past 15 years to keep up with the rapid ascent of mobile technologies and social media websites, and a slew of competitors like LinkedIn and Indeed.com.

In 2011, Xconomy reported that Monster’s parent company had spent $500 million on research and development over the previous three and a half years, yielding new technologies and mobile products. The company also made its first appearance at the South by Southwest festival that year, part of its attempt to reverse its image from sleepy dinosaur to cutting-edge tech firm.

Monster also has made some acquisitions to try and right the ship, including buying San Francisco-based job-search app Jobr in June for an undisclosed price.

But those efforts weren’t enough to turn things around. Monster’s parent company has gone through multiple rounds of layoffs in recent years. Its global staff has shrunk from more than 5,000 in January 2012 to 3,700 as of January 31. Monster Worldwide’s annual sales have steadily fallen in each of the past five years, going from $942.1 million in 2011 to $666.9 million last year.

The company has also dealt with big changes at the top. Monster.com founder Jeff Taylor left in 2005 to start Eons.com and other new companies in the Boston area. Andrew McKelvey—the founder and former CEO of Monster Worldwide, formerly known as TMP Worldwide—left in 2006 amid an investigation into the backdating of employee stock options. He reached a settlement in early 2008, and later that year he died of pancreatic cancer at age 74, according to his Associated Press obituary. The company’s general counsel pleaded guilty to criminal charges of conspiracy and securities fraud in the stock options case, and its chief operating officer was convicted of conspiracy and securities fraud in a criminal trial, according to media reports.

Monster Worldwide’s current CEO, Tim Yates, took the helm in 2014, after Salvatore Iannuzzi stepped down after seven years in the role.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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