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Startup Trovix Looks To Google As Role Model

September 3, 2006
HR tech company Trovix has a thing about Google. For one thing, the fast-growing recruiting software firm is in Mountain View, California, and as such is surrounded by Google’s offices. It also claims its technology for matching job openings to candidate résumés is in the same league as Google’s search technology. What’s more, Trovix sees the Google success story as a model for its quest to topple bigger rivals ranging from recruiting specialists Peopleclick and Taleo to industry giants Oracle and SAP.

Look at how Google came from nowhere to beat Yahoo and Microsoft in Internet search, says Jeff Benrey, Trovix’s chief executive and co-founder. "It happens," Benrey says. "Better technology comes and it changes the game."

But even if Trovix has built a better résumé-matching mousetrap, that alone may not win over clients, says recruiting consultant Ed Newman. "Automatic and intelligent search is valuable, but it rarely ever gets as automatic as the marketing hype," he says.

Trovix began selling its recruiting software last year. It is on pace to quadruple its client base from 10 in December 2005 to more than 40 this year. Clients include high-profile names such as Treo phone maker Palm and Cisco Systems division Linksys.

Recruiting applications have been criticized for being cumbersome and failing to deliver. Even so, Forrester Research predicts recruitment software product revenues will grow 4.5 percent annually through 2009.

Trovix says it differs from other vendors because of sophisticated software that mimics the way a human recruiter looks at résumés. Its algorithms are designed to take into account the relevancy of skills and job experience and how recently a candidate worked in a particular field.

Still, Benrey says Trovix isn’t trying to "automate everything." And while the emphasis is on résumé search, Trovix lets clients add questions for candidates on application screens.

Asked to name the company that can most closely rival the Trovix search technology, Benrey points out the window toward Google’s headquarters. Just as Google’s founders spent years working on their search software before it took off, so have he and co-founder Earl Rennison, who conducted research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Nonetheless, the Trovix focus on résumés is outdated, says Dave Michaud, vice president of product marketing at Taleo. Résumés can leave out critical information, he says. Taleo’s approach is to have candidates answer job-specific questions on clients’ sites in order to match candidate skills, interests and experience with job requirements. "They’re really taking an old-school approach," Michaud says.

Yankee Group analyst Jason Corsello has a different view. He says searching functionality is becoming more important to recruiting systems, in part so average hiring managers can use the tools more effectively and efficiently.

Jim Holincheck, analyst at research firm Gartner, says Trovix will struggle to woo corporations that already have moved from paper-based systems to an automated approach. Trovix may have a great technology, he says, but a Google-like rise to supremacy is unlikely. "Is it going to take over the world and displace everyone? I just don’t see that."

Ed Frauenheim