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Upwork Global Inc.
Upwork logo
Type of businessPublic
Russell 2000 Index component
Founded1999 (as Elance)
2003 (as oDesk)
2013 (as Elance-oDesk)
2015 (as Upwork)
HeadquartersSanta Clara, California, U.S.
Area servedWorldwide
Created byBeerud Sheth
Srini Anumolu
Sanjay Noronha
Key peopleHayden Brown (CEO)
Thomas Layton (Chairman)
IndustryFreelance marketplace
Alexa rankDecrease 443 (As of 19 February 2020)[1]

Upwork, formerly Elance-oDesk,[2] is a global freelancing platform where businesses or individuals connect to conduct business. In 2015, Elance-oDesk was rebranded as Upwork.[3] It is based in Santa Clara and San Francisco, California. The full name is Upwork Global Inc.

Upwork has twelve million registered freelancers and five million registered clients.[4][5] Three million jobs are posted annually, worth a total of US$1 billion, making it the largest freelancer marketplace in the world.[6][2][7]


Elance was founded in 1998 by MIT graduate, Beerud Sheth, and Wall Street veteran, Srini Anumolu in a two-bedroom apartment in Jersey City. In December of 1999, the company's 22 employees relocated to Sunnyvale, in the heart of California's Silicon Valley. Elance's first product was the Elance Small Business Marketplace.[8]

oDesk was founded in 2003[9] by two friends, Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis[10] who wanted to work together even though one of them was in the U.S., and the other was in Greece. They created oDesk to allow them to do it. Originally built as a staffing firm, oDesk was built into an online marketplace that allowed registers users to find, hire, and collaborate with remote workers.

Elance and oDesk announced their merger on December 18, 2013 to create Elance-oDesk.[11] In 2015, company rebranded as Upwork, coinciding with an upgrade of the oDesk platform under the same name, and planned to phase out the Elance platform within a couple of years.[12]

The company was listed on the Inc. 5000 list from 2009-2014.[13]

In early September 2015, the service experienced an outage which led to an apology being issued by CEO Stephane Kasriel.[14]

The company filed for an initial public offering on October 3, 2018.[15][13]

Size and scope[edit]

As of March 2017, it reported 14 million users in 180 countries with $1 billion in annual freelancer billings.[16][17]


Upwork allows clients to interview, hire and work with freelancers and agencies through the company's platform. The platform includes a real-time chat aimed at reducing the time it takes to find, vet and hire freelancers.[3]

The platform offers a time sheet application that allows freelancers to track their actual time spent working on projects with verified screenshots.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Upwork.com Traffic, Demographics and Competitors - Alexa". Alexa Internet. Retrieved March 19, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Elance-oDesk Becomes 'Upwork' In Push To Build $10B In Freelancer Revenues". Forbes. May 5, 2015. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Lunden, Ingrid (May 5, 2015). "Elance-oDesk Rebrands As Upwork, Debuts Slack-Like Chat Platform". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  4. ^ "Two Pakistani organizations selected for Upwork Social Impact Program". www.techlist.pk. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  5. ^ "What's a workforce marketplace? How work will get done in the future | Networks Asia". Networks Asia. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  6. ^ "Tech in Asia - Connecting Asia's startup ecosystem".
  7. ^ Lawler, Ryan (November 25, 2014). "Eight Months After Merger, Elance-oDesk Raises Another $30 Million Led By Benchmark". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  8. ^ Thomas W. Malone; Robert J. Laubacher. "The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy" (PDF). Harvard Business Review. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 31, 2012. Retrieved December 25, 2010.
  9. ^ "California Secretary of State. Corporate filing date 1/27/2003". Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  10. ^ "The story behind launching oDesk - with Gary Swart - Mixergy". Mixergy. March 19, 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  11. ^ Levy, Ari (December 19, 2013). "Elance Merges With oDesk to Boost Service for Freelancers". Bloomberg Technology. San Francisco. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  12. ^ "oDesk becomes Upwork, but what about Elance?". news.smallbusinesstrends.com. May 5, 2015. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  13. ^ a b "Upwork Just Made a Surprising Decision That Will Change Everything For Freelancers". Inc.com. July 25, 2018. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  14. ^ Kasriel, Stephane. "Update on Site Performance and Issues". Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  15. ^ Jiang, Ethel (October 3, 2018). "Upwork — the largest freelancers' network — soars 50% in trading debut". Markets Insider. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  16. ^ Snagajob. "Snagajob Appoints Former Upwork CEO to Board of Directors". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  17. ^ "TechDay - Upwork's SVP of Marketing Explains What It Takes To Perfect An Offering That Relies On People". techdayhq.com. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  18. ^ Hardy, Quentin. "Big Brother in the Home Office".

External links[edit]