Jeff Taylor is founder and CEO of the $100 million-plus Monster.com, the career-search site that, in 1999, launched a now-legendary Super Bowl ad that featured children enthusiastically predicting abysmal career outcomes: "I want to claw my way to middle management;" "I want to be forced into early retirement." But Taylor, 40, is becoming a legend himself, thanks to stunts like water-skiing from his company's blimp and having that same blimp fly over Coca-Cola headquarters last year as 2,000 Coke employees were given pink slips.
In 2000, you told USA Today that someday you'd like to be in the President's Cabinet as the Labor Secretary. Were you serious?
One of the things I really love is . . . being an advocate for the consumer's career, and I've discovered I have an affinity for the whole career process. Career management is going to be a much more mission-critical part of our world. It might be interesting to [examine] how the government looks at employment law and labor. Across the country, service businesses are overtaking manufacturing businesses, where the bulk of the jobs are, and the voice of labor really needs to evolve. Maybe there's a New Economy Labor Secretary [job] more appropriate to my skills and background.
If you could be in any other career, what would you be doing?
You'll probably laugh at me. But I'd probably own a nightclub in Boston. Or maybe a combination [of a] radio station, a Web site that delivers music, and a nightclub, all mixed in the same brand. For 12 years I was a DJ, but [then] kind of got into the business world. Now life comes full circle: I DJ my own company parties. So I suppose I'd consider getting back into the music industry.
How important has the Monster.com moniker been to your business?
Our name and our business model have been the cornerstones of our success. But naming our company "Monster" was not the easiest thing to do. Everybody hated the name, but the way it worked, the first time you hear "Monster," you say, "Ugh, I don't know what that is." The second time, you're like, "OK, I understand it's a career thing." The third time you hear Monster, you're like, "I love this name." And now that we've made "Monster" equal "careers," it's been a huge barrier to entry for our competitors.
The longest period Geoff Williams has been unemployed was about three months, when he sent out 78 resumes. His lowest point was when he answered an ad that said "phone sales" and the job turned out to be a personality on a phone sex line. He didn't get the job.