Affinity Circles Deal Gives Access to More Recruiting Tools

Mingle, a San Diego Internet holding company founded in 2005, says it’s expanding its online recruiting business,, with the acquisition of Affinity Circles, a Sunnyvale, CA-based startup built around alumni organizations and other social networks.

While financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, Mingle CEO Michael O’Brien sized the deal for me, saying Affinity Circles had five employees while Mingle now has about 40, following several years of explosive growth. “This is a neat deal for us,” O’Brien says. “It means we’ll probably hire another 20 to 30 people for Affinity Circles in 2012 if we hit all the necessary milestones.”

O’Brien’s move into online career services seems like a logical extension from his previous San Diego startup,, an online student loan services business he co-founded six years ago.’s founders sold their business to San Diego’s Education Lending Group for $40 million in cash and stock in October, 2004. Three months later, the Education Lending Group was itself acquired for $381 million in cash by the CIT Group, a New York banking and financial services company.

But O’Brien says he didn’t plan to move immediately from student loans to career services. Rather, he says he first started Mingle—and was one of its first products. O’Brien says he also put two other Internet companies under the Mingle banner, a student loan business and a natural language search tool, but neither survived. “Our original business plan focused on a single customer acquisition cost with multiple products to cross-sell. Thus, the mingling of businesses,” O’Brien says.

He adds that Mingle has been “operationally profitable” since 2010, after raising about $3 million from … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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