The popular news forum and internet cultural powerhouse Slashdot was just sold to Dice Holdings, a network of tech-oriented recruiting sites including Dice.com and eFinancialCareers.com. The union caused some head-scratching at first. Why would a square careers site want to buy a nerd forum founded by someone named CmdrTaco?
The alliance makes sense to Dice Holdings, however, which purchased Slashdot from its parent company Geeknet along with two other geeky content sites. Most of Dice's sites are based around job listings, especially in the technology field and adjacent sectors, with functionality devoted to searches, profiles, and employer matching. But recently, Dice has been emphasizing content — specifically, articles about career-related things in the "Dice Blog Network" — in order to help users find its sites and spend more time on the page.
Dice will have year-round access to a deeply-engaged audience with a specialized set of skills
People look at articles like "5 Ways You May Unwittingly Commit Resume Fraud" while they're actively searching for a job. But once they've found a job, there's no longer any need to look at a careers site. But people read Slashdot every day, which means Dice will have year-round access to a deeply-engaged audience with a specialized set of skills. Along with Slashdot, Dice bought the open-source code repositories of SourceForge and Freecode, which have similarly active and homogenous audiences. With access to this new audience, Dice can potentially market jobs to people even before they realize they're ready for a new gig.
Slashdot, which dubs itself as "news for nerds, stuff that matters," was a forerunner to user-submitted content sites like Reddit and Digg. The site generates more than 5,300 comment a day on average and sends a firehose of traffic to links that make it to the front page, although founder and editor-in-chief CmdrTaco quit last year. It has a close-knit community of techies and is responsible for many widespread memes including the practice of tricking people into visiting goatse.cx and the phrase "in Soviet Russia, [noun] [verb] you."
Dice's goal with the acquisition was "user engagement," CFO Michael Durney told The Verge. "What we expect to see is the ability for a Dice user to find the Slashdot forums really easily, and for the Slashdot user to be in front of job opportunities or career opportunities that fit with the topics around the discussion." Synergy, in other words.
Dice doesn't plan to plaster its new sites with advertisements, however. "We expect to keep them pretty much the same as they are now," he said. "We are very sensitive to not disrupting how users use them... having said that, I think what will likely happen over time is that people using Slashdot or SourceForge will be presented with career opportunities that fit their needs, which is something those sites don't do today."
Slashdot and SourceForge have a jobs board, he pointed out, but it's not very good even though the listings reach 50 million monthly users. While Dice says users won't notice many changes immediately, you can bet the Slashdot jobs board will get a makeover soon.
Using niche content to lure potential job seekers is not a novel approach
Using niche content to lure potential job seekers is not a novel approach. Many sites marry content and job listings. Github, the site where programmers publish and get feedback on their code, has a jobs page. Stack Exchange, the network of question-and-answer sites that includes programmer-centric Stack Overflow, has made its Careers 2.0 offering central to its business model.
The acquisition also represents a big traffic gain for Dice and a chance to expand into international markets. Dice.com brings in about two million visitors a month compared to almost double that for Slashdot, and the majority of SourceForge's 40 million unique monthly visitors are outside the US, where Dice wants to expand.
Both Dice (NYSE: DHX) and Geeknet (Nasdaq: GKNT) are publicly-held companies, bringing in revenues of $48.4 million and $23.1 million in the second quarter respectively. Slashdot, SourceForge, and Freecode were acquired for $20 million in cash, which is the amount of revenue they generated in 2011. Slashdot's then-owner Geeknet announced in the spring that it wanted to sell its media properties in order to concentrate on its ecommerce business, ThinkGeek.