Are LinkedIn and Glassdoor Competitors?

Robert Hohman is co-founder and CEO of Glassdoor, an online community where employees and job-seekers post anonymous information on salaries, company reviews, interview questions, and more, providing a valuable insider's glimpse of what it's like to work at a company. Hohman was on Expedia's  original team, and helped take it public in 1999. He most recently served as president of Expedia's discount division, Hotwire.

In this video segment Hohman says LinkedIn and Glassdoor provide such different services that they aren't really in direct competition. Facebook , he says, is even less of a threat. And while Fortune's Best Places to Work list is comparable, he points out that only Glassdoor offers employee-generated data.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Tom Gardner: Who is a bigger competitor to Glassdoor over the long term, LinkedIn or Facebook?

Robert Hohman: Well, let's see. LinkedIn is an interesting one. I'm asked this question a lot.

I think of us sort of as cousins. We're related, but very different. We provide very different services. The kind of highly transparent, gritty, real community that we have on Glassdoor is very, very different from what's on LinkedIn or really on any other service -- this kind of ability to see what's really going on. And the result, we know now, is highly informed candidates and a higher quality, more informed candidate who's applying to a company. So, we're just different.

At the end of the day, of course, we are competing for recruiting dollars, so yes, we do butt heads a little bit there, but the way we help companies recruit is just so different that it hasn't really been much of an issue.

Facebook, I think, is a platform. I really, truly don't think we're going to compete with Facebook; I could be wrong.

Gardner: My feeling is -- and maybe this violates the platform concept -- but I believe that Facebook should just come and offer a huge premium to acquire Glassdoor. Although, I guess anonymity would be a problem in that case, because Facebook has so little anonymity out there.

Anyway, I see it as a potential, powerful pairing, because I find Glassdoor's interface and usability very user-friendly. I struggle a little bit with LinkedIn's. I love LinkedIn as a business -- it's an investment of mine -- but I struggle a little bit with the user side of it, and I don't have that struggle on Glassdoor's interface.

Hohman: (Unclear) Something we've worked hard to make clear on Glassdoor -- because we introduced Facebook connectivity with Glassdoor; you can create an account now by Facebook connecting -- and we were really worried that people wouldn't understand that if they did that, and then they left a review, that it was still anonymous.

But it turns out we didn't need to worry about it. People got that. They understood that they could be an identified member in the community, but there were still things they could do that are anonymous, like leave a review. It turns out we were completely unfounded; they understood that.

I don't know. Facebook has such a broad opportunity as a broad platform play. I would be surprised to see them executing on big verticals, but we saw Microsoft  go down that alley for a little while, Google  went down that path for a little while. There may be a time that Facebook begins to dabble in it.

Gardner: I'm going to draw you in and make a controversial comment right now and you can just sidestep it.

What do you think of the Fortune Best Places to Work lists? I'll be controversial and maybe I'll get you out of it by saying I don't find them anywhere near as useful as what's happening at Glassdoor. I don't necessarily see it as competitive. I just know that there are ways, with the Fortune list, to be consulted to figure out how you can do better getting on the list, and that creates a potential conflict, in my observation. I'm not meaning to have you say that, but I'm curious what you think of that list and if you see any relevance on either side.

Hohman: The power of our Best Places to Work really is that it comes straight from employees. It's the only one like it, where employees are voting, themselves. And as you point out, there is no other equivalent that looks at companies that way.

Gardner: From the ground up.

Hohman: When you believe as passionately as I do that it's the employees that matter the most, and their belief in the outlook of the company -- because they're the ones that are coming and busting their asses every day -- then yes, it's a very, very useful measure.

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