One of the most successful startups of the Web 2.0 era, TheLadders, is having a crappy year, as least relative to the rapid growth pace it has set to date.After doubling revenue in each of the past five years, TheLadders has grown only modestly this year and will miss its internal revenue targets for 2010, sources say.
The company’s new enterprise business, which accounts for a small per cent of revenue, is growing solidly, up 40% year over year. The core business, however, consumer subscriptions to high-end job listings, has recovered from the economic downturn more slowly than expected.
Not helping matters, TheLadders has seen significant turnover in its top executive ranks this year, as its new CFO, consumer-product boss, VP of technology, and others have left the company.
One source pins some of the blame for these departures on TheLadders founder and CEO, Marc Cenedella, saying Marc can be hard to work for. This source says the recent departures are indicative of a long-term turnover problem at TheLadders, in which several senior management slots have turned over repeatedly.
Another source, however, says the recent turnover has been the result of more mundane factors: Thilo Semmelbauer, who was named head of the company’s US consumer business last July, left to become CEO President of another company, Shutterstock. The company’s VP of technology, Alain Benzaken, the source says, was passed over for the CTO slot and left to found a startup called Food52. CFO Harpreet Grewal, who joined the company last fall, decided he did not want to relocate to New York from Boston and recently became the CFO of Constant Contact.
Importantly, despite the sluggish growth this year, TheLadders has weathered the economic downturn very well. Traditional job board companies like Monster got crushed. TheLadders should book an estimated ~$80 million in revenue this year, up from about $70 million last year. If the company can resolve its turnover issue and reaccelerate growth, it will once again be a strong candidate for an IPO.
Disclosure: The chairman of Business Insider, Kevin Ryan, is an investor in TheLadders (and other companies). TheLadders has been a valued and appreciated sponsor of Business Insider. This story’s author and Business Insider CEO, Henry Blodget, is friends with Marc Cenedella, Kevin Ryan, and others.
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