Catalants and the Gig Economy
I love to be right. A few months back I blogged about my amusing experience applying to join the Hourly Nerd digital talent platform. I asked the question, “$22 million in funding and they couldn’t come up with a better name?” This week they announced a new name — “Catalant”.
I have been involved as a client in several corporate naming exercises. With only good thoughts for my old friends at Landor Associates, I just love the whole explanation about why a certain combination of letters will be a good new name. Now that owning the URL is paramount, most existing English language words are taken, as are well-known Latin or foreign terms. (My son who was a Classics major could be a source of some good ancient Greek phrases though…)
So Catalant is a combination of catalyst, talent and brilliant, or so they say. The name change theoretically ushers in a new future for the well-funded digital talent platform where they tout the new world where ” companies can instantly access the precise talent they need when they need it.” The video is lovely, despite its obvious overstatement.
The world they describe is not that new. I am fairly sure I had virtually that same verbiage in the marketing materials of my company, M Squared, 25 years ago. Similarly, other firms that have been around a while, like The Business Talent Group (BTG) and Cerius Executives are demonstrating how companies are using on demand expertise. Maybe this model is new for Catalant, but it is not so new for the world.
In an article in BostInno, the founders mention that the original intention was to go after small businesses but now they see that big companies can use them as a source of flexible talent. Their algorithms are key to that value to large companies. Their platform can index all skills and find the right person. That may be so. For me, it is all about trust.
My former company – and BTG and Cerius for that matter – provide our big company clients more than algorithms; we provide trust and judgement. If I told a client he really should talk to Harry for a sensitive, strategic project even though Harry may not seem on point, they did it because they trusted me and my understanding of the consultants, the gig and their environment. Perhaps algorithms may get there, but as someone in the Hourly Nerd, excuse me, Catalant network, I have yet to be matched with a project appropriate to my skills. As such, I am still a bit of a skeptic about the perfection of the algorithm.
And by the way, I learned from the Bostinno article, Hourly Nerd isn’t going away entirely. It will be the product offering to the small business marketplace So big companies get brilliant talent and little companies get nerds…go figure…