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Industry Freelance marketplace, Online outsourcing, Employment website
Founded Mountain View, California
Headquarters Mountain View, California
Area served
Key people
Stephane Kasriel (CEO), Thomas Layton (Chairman)
Website Upwork.com
Alexa rank
negative increase 1,108,714(May 2015)[1]

Upwork, formerly Elance-oDesk,[2] is a global online work platform where businesses and independent professionals connect and collaborate remotely. Based in Mountain View and San Francisco, California, Upwork was launched on May 5, 2015.[3]


Upwork was formed nearly 18 months after Elance and oDesk announced their merger on December 18, 2013 to create Elance-oDesk, an online workplace with a combined total 8 million registered users.[4] oDesk was founded by Sanjay Suthar in 2003[5] by entrepreneurs 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.[6] Elance was founded in 1999 by Beerud Sheth, its name inspired by a 1998 Harvard Business Review article titled "The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy".[7]

Staffing Industry Analysts refer to Upwork 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." [8]

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."[9]

In March 2013, Staffing Industry Analysts, projected that the "online staffing" segment would grow to $5B by 2018.[10]

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.[11]


Upwork allows clients to interview, hire and work with freelancers and agencies through the company's platform. According to 2013 reports from Accenture and Deloitte, enterprises are increasingly looking to supplement their permanent employee workforce with flexible, extended workforces of project-based personnel.[12][13][14] Businesses support the trend because it provides flexible access to specialized skills, and professionals support it because it enables independence.[15] The company collects 10 percent of the payment [16] Payments are made through Upwork's escrow system, which transfers the funds to freelancers after a 6-day safety period.

As of May 2014, Upwork reported $1B in annual billings, 10 million freelancers and 4 million clients worldwide.[17] The areas of expertise supported by the site include app and software development, engineering and data science, creative services such as graphic design and writing, business and administrative. 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 collaboration platform 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. New York Times' Quentin Hardy describes Upwork's billing application:

The computers they use contain software that takes snapshots of what they are doing six times an hour... The software can also drill deeper, looking at things like individual key strokes and where someone moved the computer mouse.

Moving to a single platform[edit]

With the launch of Upwork, the oDesk platform was upgraded and rebranded and the company announced that the Elance plaftform will be phased out within a couple of years, resulting in a single freelance marketplace.[18]


  • Bersin by Deloitte "WhatWorks" Award (2013)[19]
  • 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[20]
  • AlwaysOn Global 250 Top Private Companies (2012[21] and 2011[22])
  • AlwaysOn OnDemand 100 (2012[23] and 2011[24])
  • Silicon Valley Business Journal Fastest Growing Private Company List (2011,[25] 2010[26] and 2009[27])
  • San Francisco Business Times Fastest Growing Companies List (2011[28] and 2010[29])
  • SAMCEDA Innovation & Entrepreneurship Awards - 2011 Fastest Growing Innovator Award of Excellence [30]
  • 2011 TiE50 Internet/Social Networking Winner[31] of TiE50 Awards Program.
  • TechCrunch50 DemoPit Winner (2010) [32]
  • Silicon Valley Business Journal Emerging Technology Award (2009) [33]
  • International Association of Outsourcing Professionals 2009 Global Outsourcing 100 Rising Star [34]
  • Deloitte Technology Fast 500 [35]
  • Finalist for the "Red Herring 100 Global" Awards 2007 and 2009.[36]
  • 2007 Rising Star in Deloitte's Technology Fast 500 Program.[37]
  • Finalist in PC Magazine’s 2006 Small Business Awards[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Upwork.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2015-05-06. 
  2. ^ "Elance-oDesk Becomes 'Upwork' In Push To Build $10B In Freelancer Revenues". Forbes. 5 May 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  3. ^ http://techcrunch.com/2015/05/05/elance-odesk-rebrands-as-upwork-debuts-slack-like-chat-platform/?ncid=rss
  4. ^ Levy, Ari (December 19, 2013). "Elance Merges With oDesk to Boost Service for Freelancers". Bloomberg Technology (San Francisco). Retrieved January 18, 2014. 
  5. ^ "California Secretary of State. Corporate filing date 1/27/2003". Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  6. ^ "oDesk About Us Page". Retrieved 7 June 2011. 
  7. ^ Thomas W. Malone; Robert J. Laubacher. "The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy" (PDF). Harvard Business Review. 
  8. ^ Staffing Industry Analysts, http://www.staffingindustry.com/site_member/Research-Publications/Blogs/Andrew-Karpie-s-Blog/Online-Staffing-Still-Partly-Cloudy-Clearing-Trend-Ahead
  9. ^ Staffing Industry Analysts, http://www.staffingindustry.com/site_member/Research-Publications/Research-Topics/Region-North-America/Online-Staffing-The-Landscape
  10. ^ Staffing Industry Analysts, http://www.staffingindustry.com/site_member/Research-Publications/Daily-News/US-What-will-happen-to-staffing-in-2018-24891
  11. ^ Staffing Industry Analysts, http://www.staffingindustry.com/site_member/Research-Publications/Research-Topics/Region-North-America/Online-Staffing-Threats-Opportunities
  12. ^ "Accenture – The rise of the extended workforce". 
  13. ^ "Deloitte – The open talent economy". 
  14. ^ Carolyn Hughes (December 13, 2011). "4 tips for small business hiring". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  15. ^ Paul Davidson (October 13, 2010). "Freelance workers reshape companies and jobs". USA Today. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Upwork Policy". October 2010. 
  17. ^ "Elance-oDesk unveils new platform, name". Staffing Industry Analysis. 5 May 2015. 
  18. ^ "oDesk becomes Upwork, but what about Elance?". news.smallbusinesstrends.com. 5 May 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  19. ^ "Bersin by Deloitte Announces Winners of the WhatWorks® Awards". Bersin by Deloitte. 
  20. ^ "oDesk Company Profile". Inc. 
  21. ^ "Announcing the 2012 AlwaysOn Global 250 Top Private Companies". AlwaysOn. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  22. ^ "Announcing the 2011 AlwaysOn Global 250". AlwaysOn. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  23. ^ "Announcing the 2012 OnDemand 100 Top Private Companies". AlwaysOn. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  24. ^ March 30, 2011 (2011-03-30). "Announcing the 2011 OnDemand 100 Top Private Companies | AlwaysOn". Alwayson.goingon.com. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  25. ^ "Fastest-growing Silicon Valley private companies named". Silicon Valley Business Journal. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  26. ^ "Valley's fastest growing companies honored". October 14, 2010. 
  27. ^ "70 FastPrivate valley companies hailed". October 9, 2009. 
  28. ^ "Slideshow: The fastest-growing Bay Area companies". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  29. ^ Young, Eric (October 25, 2010). "CEOs say staying nimble, efficient aids growth". 
  30. ^ Chan, Stacie (April 1, 2011). "Despite Slow Economy, Six County Companies Are Posterchildren for Growth". Patch.com. 
  31. ^ 2011 TiE50 Internet/Social Networking Winner
  32. ^ Monday, September 14, 2009 (2009-09-14). "TC50: DemoPit Winner oDesk Launches A Real-Time Work Stream For Your iPhone And Desktop". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  33. ^ "Emerging Tech award winners honored". December 4, 2009. 
  34. ^ "The 2009 Global Outsourcing 100 Sub-Lists". IAOP. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  35. ^ http://www.deloitte.com/assets/Dcom-UnitedStates/Local%20Assets/Documents/TMT_us_tmt/us_tmt_2010%20Technology%20Fast%20500%20Winners%20Brochure_191010.pdf
  36. ^ Finalists for the "Red Herring 100 Global" Awards 2007
  37. ^ 2007 Technology Fast 500
  38. ^ Quain, John (September 27, 2006). "Small Business Awards by PC Magazine: Outsourcing Finalists". PC Magazine. 

External links[edit]