Starfish Partners Acquires INNOVA People

November 30, 2023 – Starfish Partners, an investment and ownership platform for niched professional and mid-to-upper management search specialists, has acquired INNOVA People, a Bend, OR-based firm that works across North America recruiting talent in the healthcare and technology industries. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. “Joel is one of those rare combinations of superior capabilities and production as a search professional while also establishing himself as an extraordinary leader, having built several firms in the industry,” said Jeff Kaye, managing director of Starfish. “Joel is a visionary but also one who can execute and implement with excellence. We are very fortunate to welcome Joel as an owner and are thrilled his team has joined as well.”

CEO Joel Slenning, with his over two decades of experience and the INNOVA People team will expand Starfish Partners’ reach into the healthcare and technology industry by continuing to utilize their technology stack and artificial Intelligence platform.

“For so many years now, the team that drives Starfish Partners has been coveted advisors to the businesses that I have built and managed,” said Mr. Slenning, founder of INNOVA People. “The opportunity to partner directly with this team, as well as bring a whole new dimension and business offering to Starfish Partners in Healthcare Staffing, is incredibly exciting and a long time coming.”

Starfish Partners was launched last year as an ownership/investment platform for the executive search market. The platform, according to its founder, was formed to allow owners to scale and monetize their business value; it will also allow independent search firm owners to participate and share in the equity of an entire family of companies, not just their own. “As the search and staffing industry has evolved, it has consolidated in most areas,” said Mr. Kaye. “We see small staffing firms acquired by regional players acquired by national ones. We see giant holding companies owning a variety of organizations operating under many unique brands. We see mergers on both small and large scales,” he said.

“The executive search industry has had a flurry of merger and acquisition activities over the years, but there is one segment of this massive world that has remained relatively untouched: the world of niche professional and mid-upper-level management search specialists,” Mr. Kaye said. “The barriers to entry are low, but the obstacles to growth are significant. There are understandable issues and reasons why investors have avoided this robust section of the market,” he said.

Past Deal

Starfish recently acquired Global People and NinjaJobs. Current Starfish Partners organizations include search firms Kaye/Bassman International Corp. (KBIC), Direct Recruiters Inc. (DRI), Integrity Search, Full Spectrum Search Group, Raymond Search Group, the Sanford Rose Associates International (SRAI) network, and consulting and training firm Next Level Exchange (NLE).

Starfish Partners Acquires Direct Recruiters Inc.
Starfish Partners has acquired Direct Recruiters Inc. (DRI). Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Current Starfish Partners organizations include search firms Kaye/Bassman International Corp. (KBIC), Full Spectrum Search Group, the Sanford Rose Associates International (SRAI) network, and Next Level Exchange (NLE). Dan Charney and Mike Silverstein from DRI and Jeff Kaye, Karen Schmidt, and Nick Turner from KBIC, SRAI, and NLE are the members of the new board. Mr. Charney said: “DRI has a long-standing relationship and has benefited from NLE’s leadership, as demonstrated by the fact that we have grown tenfold in less than a decade. We are committed to continuing this trajectory as we seek additional investment and acquisition partners. We are excited to continue to do great work for our clients and help our associates and partners reach their goals.”

Global People is a local employment solutions provider for national and international corporations. Established in 2008, the company implements onsite employment solutions for leading Hi-Tech, IT, Cyber and professional services companies. Global People’s founder and CEO, Jon Bartos, also serves as chief investment officer for Starfish Partners. “It was only fitting that we acquired the search firm of the individual leading our acquisition effort,” said Mr. Kaye. “We have built an incredible relationship with Jon and his team and share a common vision for the future of our collective. Jon is the best in class in every way. Not only will Jon continue to grow Global People and Starfish Partners, but he will soon also be growing and leading an entirely new franchise network, Dimensional Search, for those wanting to start a new recruiting firm. We could not be more excited to continue our journey with Jon and his team.”

NinjaJobs is a McLean, VA-based firm that works across North America placing talent in the cybersecurity industry. CEO Drew Fearson and the NinjaJobs team will expand Starfish Partners’ reach into the cybersecurity industry by continuing to utilize their technology and job board platform. “We are beyond excited to join the Starfish team,” said Mr. Fearson. “Pairing with them will allow us to accelerate growth, expand our reach, and better serve the cybersecurity community. Their track record of growth and innovation in the recruiting world speaks for itself. We look forward to continuing our mission of being the premier cyber-specific recruitment agency and platform with them by our side.”

Related: Hunt Scanlon Media Launches M&A Advisory Service for Recruiters

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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