A recent study on the Freelance industry in the US estimates that nearly 36% of the US workforce, or 57.3 million Americans, are freelancing. The research estimates that these freelance workers contribute approximately $1.4 trillion annually to the economy, an increase of almost 30% since last year. By 2027, researchers believe, that freelancers will account for majority of the US workforce. Growth like that should have been promising for freelance services provider Upwork. But the former Billion Dollar Unicorn club member is struggling to take advantage of these trends.

Upwork’s Offerings

Mountain View-based Upwork was founded after the merger of two freelance platforms Elance and oDesk. Elance was set up in 1998 by IIT Bombay alumni Srinivas Anumolu, Sanjay Noronha, and Beerud Sheth who wanted to create a marketplace for services. The Wall Street traders came together to build a platform that would allow talented people worldwide to connect with businesses who could leverage their experience. The first prototype of Elance was released in 1999.

oDesk, on the other hand, was founded much later, in 2005, by two close friends from Greece – Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis. Serial entrepreneur Odysseas was on his third strartup in Silicon Valley when he realized that he wanted to work with his closest friend Stratis, who was in Athens. Odysseas’s coworkers were agreeable to working with Stratis, but to instill confidence in remote working, the two friends developed the Odesk platform. Soon the two realized that they had invented a service that could help several other talented workers work from wherever they liked on projects that interested them.

In December 2013, these two freelance platforms merged to become Elance-oDesk. Together, the two accumulated a community of over 3.7 million businesses and connected them with more than 9.3 million freelance workers. Today, Upwork boasts of millions of jobs posted annually, helping freelancers earn more than $1 billion and providing companies with over 3,500 skills.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email