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Taleo and Vurv: The State of the Talent Marketplace

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While it comes as no surprise that software vendor consolidation continutes to happen, It was not exactly what I was expecting when Taleo announced their acquisition of Vurv.  In the recruiting space, there were really 3 powerhouses, being of course Taleo, Brassring (Kenexa) and Vurv.  In the talent management space, there are several more including the 3 mentioned above, perhaps Authoria, Workstream, SuccessFactors and a few others.

Taleo’s acquisition of Vurv basically makes them the talent player to beat.  Combining them creates a company that has basically 50% of the Fortune 100 and a very good share of the Fortune 500.  Most of this will be in the recruiting space, but they also have great brand and product in the talent management space as well.  As of last year when Taleo released their performance product, they were the player to beat at least from a visionary product perspective.  SuccessFactors is still enormously successful with marketing and market penetration, but Taleo can now round out their offerings with more mature functionality that is both broader and deeper from Vurv.

The initial thought was that Taleo must be purchasing Vurv for the market share only.  After all, the new Taleo products were developed with a philosophy to completely rethink and redesign the approach to talent products.  Vurv’s products quite obviously don’t fit into this development philosophy.  While we’d expect that the redundant products (mostly recruiting) will get ported over to Taleo’s in the next few years, the talent management products might be a bit more ambiguous.  The goal of the new Taleo must be to avoid the fiasco that Oracle suffered when acquiring PeopleSoft.  The constant confusion over what product base would be used for Fusion, and how long the products would be supported.  A strong statement of what will happen to Vurv customers and products quickly will be highly beneficial to keep Vurv customers from moving to another vendor in times of uncertainty.

Taleo also happens to round out their global presence nicely.  Vurv’s strength in Europe combines nicely with Taleo’s in Asia/Pac.  Vurv’s recruiting software is just a tiny bit more down market than Taleo’s, so the combined market viability is a bit broader.

For now, it does look like a three horse race with Taleo, Kenexa and perhaps SuccessFactors in the mix.

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