Monster Buys Social Networker Tickle

Rhett Pardon
NEW YORK – The dot-com fallout seems just sooooo long ago!

Social networking and online self-testing site Tickle.com of San Francisco was acquired by Monster Worldwide in a deal valued at about $94 million, the companies announced Monday night.

Monster Worldwide Inc., the New York parent company of career site Monster.com, said that the deal is “a strategic fit" and will help expand its subscriber base, fuel "viral" marketing growth, enhance its career-related content and provide a new consumer revenue stream. Monster currently sees most revenue from employers.

Tickle, which has been profitable since the second quarter of 2002, has earned nearly $25 million of revenue for the last 12 months, according to a filing April 30 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Tickle makes the majority of its revenue from user subscriptions with the balance coming from online advertising. It currently has more than 18 million members and administers about 50,000 career-assessment tests per day. Monster, which moved into the social networking segment in October, will still operate for free under Monster Networking.

Both companies declined to detail how the sites could be integrated, but said they expect Tickle to remain its own brand.

Monster, which also owns the Yellow Pages ad agency TMP Worldwide and Military.com, said it expects the acquisition will be neutral to earnings in 2004 and add to earnings in 2005. Depending on whether Tickle meets financial goals, Monster may make additional payments of more than $40 million over three years for Tickle.