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Hippo Jobs appoints Administrators

Posted By: Thomas Shaw, 8:53pm Tuesday 24 March 2009    Print Article

Hippo filled Form 505 - "Notification of Appointment or Cessation of an External Administrator" with ASIC today. In layman’s terms this means they have appointed Administrators to run/wind up/liquidate the company. The Gen-Y job board is said to have around 100k registered and profiled candidates, 80% under 25 years old. The site attracts 100k visitors each month.

Timothy Holden from Foremans Business Advisors has been apointed as Administrator to Hippo Jobs Pty Ltd

Hippo was the brain child of James Masini who started working on the concept while studying at University. After months of capital raising presentations to investors Hippo was launched in April 2007. Original investors included Jeff and Janine Allis (founders of Boost Juice) and Mark Besen

The job board was externally developed by Areeba (which STILL has the test site online)

The site was launched with much hype and fan fare which included national radio campaigns, outdoor advertising, university marketing and the usual online marketing. It started with around 5,000 job adverts from the retail and hospitality sector, and recruitment agencies were not allowed to advertise on the job board. The job board won the 2007 SmartCompany Awards for the Top Website Award

Exerts from from Start-Up Success For James Masini At Hippo Jobs

"It was during September - six months we’d been in business - and I was looking at the accounts one day when I remember being shocked at how low on cash we were. I left the office and called an emergency board meeting to discuss the matter; we needed to decide a course of action, and quickly. The board decided to raise additional funds through convertible notes issued pro-rata to existing shareholders. I learnt two things at this time: one, to keep a detailed and constant watch on the financials of the business, regardless of what you have in place; and two, as an entrepreneur I don’t like convertible notes!"

November came and with it another board meeting. “During this meeting I was told straight out I was costing the business too much money and that maybe my salary should be cut. In other words, I was being asked to take a massive financial hit for the sake of the business. I was shocked,” says Masini. “This method came from the highly paid CEO as a way of reducing the business’ cash burn, knowing as the young entrepreneur I would stick around anyway. I felt they wanted my ideas, they wanted my opinions and they wanted my knowledge of the market, but because of the financial situation, they did not want me paid for the work I was doing.

“I was distraught, physically and emotionally exhausted. To sit and think of the amount of time and energy I had put into this business, yet here I was as good as out on my ear.”


The situation was resolved, and the then CEO, Steve Smith left. Hippo moved in to the Boost Juice Head Office so the investors could keep an eye on their investment.

Feb 2008 saw DMG Radio acquire 20% of Hippo. This was a great strategic step for the job board. DMG in Australia runs the Nova/Vega radio network (DMG Radio is owned by Daily Mail Group Trust in the UK) which fits both companies target market of 15-24 year olds. It gave hippo the ability to leverage advertisers as well as free "air space" throughout the Nova/DMG radio network to increase website visits and candidate signup. The free “air space” soon ran out.

At around July 2008, advertisers had enough of the Gen-Y spin, and Hippo was struggling for job adverts. It decided to change its policy of allowing Recruiters to advertise jobs.  The site was hovering around the 200 job adverts.

Nov 2008 saw a number of process improvements on the site. This resulted in a function to hide recruiter ads in the search form.

Hippo tried various promotions including "buy one get one free" and recently introduced free advert posting "pay to unlock candidate details".

So what now... Not really sure. I doubt the job board will survive. Certainly the domain names and candidate database are worth some $$. But who would purchase it? I could see a retail/hospitality recruitment agency purchasing the candidate/advertiser database.

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Feel free to join in on the conversation. All comments are moderated before publishing. Comments posted by subscribers don't necessarily reflect the views of Recruitment Directory.

 Geoff (10:19am Wednesday 25 March 2009)

Gee you are a super sleuth Thomas. ;-)

I feel for Hippo but hope they don't use the recession as an excuse for closing. Employers are posting ads on job boards in droves. Strange that Hippo weren't able to leverage this...

 anvilman (4:21pm Wednesday 25 March 2009)

R.I.P. Hippo. Geoff (you need advertising to make a job site work!!!!)

Amazed it went on this long. Poor customers, shame shame.

 anvilman (4:22pm Wednesday 25 March 2009)

I can tell you exactly what it is worth

 Thomas Shaw (7:50pm Wednesday 25 March 2009)

It would be easier to close the site, than sell it as a business. You can get cheaper adverts and more responses from the market leading job sites for retail/hospo.

Even the technology backend is not worth much.

You can bypass the payment system and receive applications without costing you a cent. Did I just say that out loud?

 Andrew (7:50pm Thursday 07 May 2009)

As a shareholder in Hippo who lost close to $300,000, the lesson I learnt, was not to trust or invest in a startup run by someone who could barely run a bath let alone a business. Unfortunately the law dosen't give minority shareholders sufficient recourse. My strong advice to all investors is, either have control or don't do it. Good businesses are built by competant people using their own money, not disregarding other peoples.

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