Tuesday, 10 June 2014

JobStreet.com says: Do good, do well

When I noticed a large envelope in my car porch yesterday, obviously thrown there by the postman who couldn't fit it into my postbox, I never expected to see this publication inside. Here are the front and back covers:

I was thinking to myself. Ah, it's Astroboy. Now, who would be sending me a comic book? Intrigued, I turned the cover and there, a very familiar design popped out. It was the latest annual report from my old employer, JobStreet.com, or to use their public-listed name, JobStreet Corporation Berhad.

It was much the usual stuff inside, such as a joint letter from the chairman and chief executive officer to the shareholders, the financial statements and a notice of the 10th annual general meeting.

Since the company was going to divest itself of its online job portal business soon to SEEK Asia Investment Pte Ltd, the letter to the shareholders took on a rather reflective mood when it dwelt on the reasons for this decision. Read the excerpt here.

This excerpt summed up the history of JobStreet.com in a single sentence: "lt is with a tinge of sadness, but more than anything, a great sense of pride, that we see how the JobStreet.com job portal business has come of age, from a start-up in 1995, into a business courted by venture capitalists in 1999, to an IPO on the MESDAQ market in 2003 and the subsequent migration to the Main Board in 2007 before being valued at RM1.73 billion for the proposed sale."

Thus, when I read through the annual report, I could very well understand why Mark Chang, the company's founder and chief executive officer, was expressing this tinge of sadness and the great sense of pride. On my part, I also felt sad that one of the most successful companies of the digital era, one that I was a part of for eight years of my working life, was about to come to an end, albeit a satisfactory end. And I'm sure, many of my old colleagues in JobStreet.com would have similar views too.

Still, I couldn't get over their use of Astroboy on the cover of the annual report. It is perhaps unique in the history of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange that a cartoon character had been used to grace the cover of an official publication and with such an impact. Traditionalists may frown on it, saying that the cartoon cover would make light or even tarnish the formality of an annual report, but I don't agree.

If you know the history of JobStreet.com, you will know that the company had always been at the forefront of technology and innovation. Many of the features found today on the JobStreet.com online job portal were brainstormed, created, tested and implemented by a team of young innovators who would have made any other technology company proud.

So for Mark Chang to decide on changing the staid cover design to something so starkly different shouldn't have come as a surprise at all to people that know him. The messages he wanted to impart were clear.

First, this could jolly well be the very last time that the present JobStreet.com team will be producing an annual report in its present format. Come next year, if the sale proceeds as planned, JobStreet.com would never quite be the same again. The online job portal will still be there, possibly with the same name, definitely with the same database of job seekers, but there will be a new owner. As for the present public-listed entity, we may eventually see a change in the company's name itself as its business direction moves away from being South-East Asia's leading online job portal.

To get an idea of what's in store for shareholders, let me quote another extract from the annual report; the part where it said:
The Company will continue to be listed and traded immediately after the sale of the online job portal business to SEEK is concluded. After the completion of the transaction, the Company will be classified as an 'affected listed issuer' under Practice Note 17 of the Listing Requirements. We will need to formulate a plan to regularise the Company's financial condition within 12 months. The Board will consider and evaluate suitable opportunities whether by acquisitions or starting new businesses should they arise. Concurrently with that endeavour, the Board will also explore options to maximise returns to shareholders subsequenly to the completion of the sale and this may include a sale of the remaining assets of the Company. The proceeds from such sale may be used to acquire new businesses and/or assets to regularise the Company's financial condition and/or returned to shareholders.
Second, it was a time for reflection on the past and a time for anticipation of the future. The new journey would begin once the job portal business is disposed off. Just like Dr Tenma looking on with pride as Toby was resurrected as a robot and took its place in the imaginary digital world, the people associated with JobStreet.com should look on with pride too as the once fledgling jobs portal business is divested and the company takes on new challenges.

May your wings always be strong and your path always true
May your dreams always be noble and your mission always clear
May your success always be abundant and still you always remain humble
Do Good, Do Well

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