Freelance sites Elance and oDesk relaunch as Upwork

Elance and oDesk, the world’s biggest freelance marketplace, has rebranded themselves as Upwork, a company and service dedicated to connecting businesses and talents faster than ever before.

“There is literally an Earth-sized talent pool of freelance professionals out there, and yet most businesses still limit their thinking to rigid local hiring models,” said Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork. “Upwork’s launch signals a new chapter of work in which people are able to hire quality talent— regardless of where the professional happens to be—in minutes. Freelancers were already earning USD 1-billion annually via Elance and oDesk—I predict they will earn USD 10-billion annually via Upwork within six years.”

“Hiring is one of the most important things a business does, and yet it’s also the hardest and most time consuming. Upwork’s new platform will radically disrupt hiring norms, making it much easier to hire a proven, high-­‐quality freelancer quickly as well as to collaborate with them after the hire,” said Hayden Brown, VP of product management at Upwork.

Highlights of the new Upwork platform include:

  • Faster hiring. It usually takes an average of three weeks for a hire to be made. With Upwork, the hiring process takes mere minutes as it factors in availability and immediacy of response (i.e., is the freelancer available to engage in a chat-like interview instantly?) To do this the platform utilizes enhanced matching algorithms developed by Upwork’s team of Stanford PhDs; a new work status feature allowing freelancers to set their availability (“Right away,” “Later” or “Not looking”); and Upwork’s new mobile app, which enables on the fly job posting, proposal submission, and applicant and contract review.
  • Real‐time group collaboration. Upwork also includes a new real-time group collaboration tool that is free and available to anyone on the web without limitations. These new features enable immediate collaboration after a hire, allowing clients to file share and communicate with their new workers instantaneously. Support for video and integrations with popular tools such as GitHub, Google Drive and Jira are also expected later in 2015.

The launch of Upwork comes two weeks after the announcement of Stephane Kasriel promotion from being the company’s top tech executive to chief executive officer. Kasriel headed a global team of more than 300 engineers, designers and programmers—many of whom were freelancers hired from the company’s own marketplace—to create the new Upwork platform.

Businesses are already posting more than 3 million freelance jobs and conducting 100-million searches annually on the Elance and oDesk platforms. “Though we are already the largest freelance talent marketplace—with USD 1-billion in freelancer earnings annually and the first online marketplace large enough to qualify for a ranking of top U.S. staffing and talent engagement firms—enormous market opportunity remains, and we decided it’s time to up the ante. This new platform will make hiring near-instant, which is a radical reimagination of work,” said Kasriel.

“This has implications not only for the way people work, but for the job market itself. Reduce the friction in a job market and you open up more opportunity,” said John Horton, Assistant Professor of Information, Operations and Management Sciences at NYU Stern School of Business and former Staff Economist at oDesk.

“This chapter will deliver the increased opportunity that comes with less job market friction to both clients and independent professionals. We are a company that will be around in 100 years. Upwork’s launch levels our innovation as we lead the online work industry into a new chapter,” said Kasriel.