|Headquarters||Redwood City, California|
|Key people||Thomas Layton
|409 (April 2014[update])|
oDesk is a global online work platform where businesses and independent professionals connect and collaborate remotely. Based in Mountain View, CA and San Francisco, CA, oDesk was founded in 2003 by Greek entrepreneurs Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis.
oDesk was founded by Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis. The two friends created a new technology platform (an online workplace) to allow distributed teams to work together and help instill trust in work happening via the Internet. oDesk, along with its network of freelancers (spanning any type of work that can be done via the Internet) launched in 2003.
Staffing Industry Analysts refers to oDesk as an "online staffing" platform:
"Online Staffing — A type of Talent Exchange consisting of an online platform where contingent workers, contractors, freelancers can offer their skills and services for limited projects or even on-going assignments and where organizations and individuals can post their requirements or put tasks/projects out to bid." 
Staffing Industry Analysts estimated that the total global market for "online staffing" was approximately $1B in 2012:
'Fifteen years ago, this industry segment did not exist. But today (after an acceleration starting around 2007) it generates about $1B+ in global revenues, consists of over 50 firms, and is growing at high double-digit growth rates. Six major players account for about half of the total industry segment revenues in 2012, but it can be expected that future market/industry expansion will also be based on now-smaller or not-yet-formed players."
In March 2013, Staffing Industry Analysts, projected that the "online staffing" segment would grow to $5B by 2018.
Online marketplaces often manage the payments and make money by charging membership fees and/or "marking up" on the billings of the contractors/freelancers. The mark-ups can range from 5 percent to 15 percent. In general, these mark-ups are significantly less than the mark-ups of traditional staffing firms, which usually—technically—enter into an employment relationship with their workers.
oDesk allows clients to interview, hire and work with freelancers and agencies through the company's platform. Prospective clients can post jobs for free, and freelancers may create profiles and bid on jobs, also for free. The company collects 10 percent of the payment. Payments are made through oDesk, which handles many bookkeeping tasks for the transaction. The transactions are transferred into the contractors' accounts after a 6-day safety period. The company's site is entirely in English, and all transactions are made in U.S. dollars.
As of December 2012, oDesk had 2.7 million freelancers and 540,000 clients worldwide. In January 29, 2012, the company reported that its top 5 countries (in terms of dollars spent for oDesk contractor services) were (in rank order): (1) US, (2) Australia, (3) Canada, (4) UK, and (5) United Arab Emirates. oDesk reported that services paid by clients hiring through the site for the year totaled $360 million in 2012.
The specific areas of expertise supported by the site include web development and a wide variety of programming/software development skills, graphic design, writing and administrative support. The company provides voluntary skills tests in various disciplines from English aptitude to specific programming skills, and profiles include a feedback mechanism.
The company's oDesk team software increases transparency and allows a client to have confidence in the billing done by a contractor whom the buyer may never have met and who may be half a world away. In an October 2008 interview with website Web Worker Daily, CEO Gary Swart said the work diaries “give buyers unprecedented visibility into work performed,” and that the Team software's “hassle-free tracking guarantees convenient, safe, and accurate billing for all work performed.”
Merger with Elance
On December 18, 2013, oDesk announced that it would sign a definitive agreement to merge with Elance, to create an online workplace for a combined total 8 million registered individuals. A joint statement was issued on the same day. The Chief Executive Officer of Elance was to lead the combined company. The new entity’s name was to be announced after the deal was closed. According to Rosati, the executive team and board will be balanced with people from each company. Both websites would stay open, and the company will keep both Silicon Valley headquarters, with ODesk in Redwood City, California, and Elance in Mountain View, California.
- Bersin by Deloitte "WhatWorks" Award (2013)
- oDesk ranked #543 in the 2012 Inc. 5000, #441 in the 2011 Inc. 500, #286 on the 2010 Inc. 500, and #110 in the 2009 Inc. 500
- AlwaysOn Global 250 Top Private Companies (2012 and 2011)
- AlwaysOn OnDemand 100 (2012 and 2011)
- Silicon Valley Business Journal Fastest Growing Private Company List (2011, 2010 and 2009)
- San Francisco Business Times Fastest Growing Companies List (2011 and 2010)
- SAMCEDA Innovation & Entrepreneurship Awards - 2011 Fastest Growing Innovator Award of Excellence 
- 2011 TiE50 Internet/Social Networking Winner of TiE50 Awards Program.
- TechCrunch50 DemoPit Winner (2010) 
- Silicon Valley Business Journal Emerging Technology Award (2009) 
- International Association of Outsourcing Professionals 2009 Global Outsourcing 100 Rising Star 
- Deloitte Technology Fast 500 
- Finalist for the "Red Herring 100 Global" Awards 2007 and 2009.
- 2007 Rising Star in Deloitte's Technology Fast 500 Program.
- Finalist in PC Magazine’s 2006 Small Business Awards
- Freelance marketplace
- Mechanical Turk
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- 2011 TiE50 Internet/Social Networking Winner
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- Finalists for the "Red Herring 100 Global" Awards 2007
- 2007 Technology Fast 500
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