Symphony Talent’s acquisition of SmashFly Technologies is being called one of the most significant HR technology deals of 2019. Industry observers note the combined company will serve an estimated 750 companies out of the gate, including a number of Fortune 500 and multinationals.
Symphony Talent announced the transaction Nov. 1, though it didn’t disclose financial terms.
On the surface, the deal brings together two complementary offerings. Symphony Talent is known for its employer-branding and creative services, while SmashFly is regarded for its recruitment marketing and candidate relationship management tools.
In an interview with RecruitingDaily, Symphony Talent CEO Roopesh Nair said the combined company “can really help practitioners create their strategy and accelerate their brand across touchpoints, across channels and audiences.” Among other things, he added, customers will benefit from “a more unified and consistent approach” to talent acquisition.
Ben Slater, vice president of marketing for recruiting platform provider Beamery, said the deal underscored the importance of technology to today’s talent acquisition strategies.
“It’s not enough to have career site and brand collateral. You need functionality for building and nurturing talent pipelines, managing events and campaigns,” he said. “In short, you need a platform to do the heavy lifting once you have developed your employer brand strategy.”
Strategic or Tactical?
Nikki Edwards, principal research analyst at industry researcher NelsonHall, said the acquisition will strengthen Symphony Talent’s market position. Introducing SmashFly’s technology into the company’s mix will result in “a more complete service/tech offering,” she said.
“Service providers are increasingly leveraging technology to deliver a better service, but those service providers are experts in their own field first … and usually experts in technology second,” she observed. In a market crowded with companies offering sophisticated platforms and tools, “it makes business sense for service providers to partner with or acquire companies with the intellectual property they need.”
For Symphony Talent, making such a move is particularly important, said Chad Sowash, an industry consultant and co-host of the recruiting podcast “The Chad & Cheese Podcast.”
In recent years, he explained, the company has struggled with a number of organizational, operational and marketing issues. Symphony Talent “hasn’t done a great job when it comes to letting the market know who the hell they are,” he said. “SmashFly has done a better job.”
On a tactical level, Sowash thinks Symphony Talent acquired SmashFly with its eyes squarely fixed to compete with TMP Worldwide Advertising and Communications. Since January, TMP has purchased social media firm Carve, recruitment tech company Maximum, programmatic recruitment platform Perengo, and employer branding and recruitment marketing firm CKR Interactive. “Symphony had to do something and I think they had to wait to be able to do the right thing,” Sowash said.
In this case, the right thing was not just to acquire SmashFly’s technology but also its customers, revenue and “the engineers who are building SmashFly for the future.”
Having such expertise in-house will be critical to Symphony Talent’s success, Sowash said. However, that success is by no means assured.
“I think this is going to be the point where we either say, ‘This is where Symphony Talent actually took off from the launch pad or it blew up on the launch pad,’ ” he said. “This is all about execution. They have all of the tools, all the connections to be able to make this happen or to fail miserably.”