|Headquarters||Mountain View, California, United States|
|Key people||Stephane Kasriel CEO|
online employment platform
|502 (April 2015[update])|
Elance was first launched in 1999, its name inspired by a 1998 Harvard Business Review article titled "The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy". It was initially developed as a technology for supporting virtual work. Two years later Elance introduced a vendor management system (VMS) for contractors and third-party services used by large enterprises. In 2006 Elance sold its enterprise software division and developed instead its current web-based platform for online, contingent work.
A merger with oDesk, another online staffing platform, was confirmed in December 2013. The deal was finalized in April 2014 and the two companies will create a resource that consists of 8 million freelancers and 2 million businesses.
Elance-oDesk relaunched as Upwork in May 2015 with Elance remaining as an Upwork company. Although Elance is still a stand-alone site operated by Upwork, it is expected to merge into the Upwork platform in the near future. The two platforms consist of 10 million freelancers and 4 million businesses.
The Elance website allows businesses to post jobs, search for freelance professionals, and solicit proposals. They can evaluate the contractors applying for the job and, once a contractor is selected, communications and files are exchanged through the Elance system. Payment for jobs, which can either be hourly-rate or project-based jobs, is made by the client through Elance's system, which deducts a percentage of the fee, 8.75%, as a "commission." Elance's Work View tool provides an official record of work completed. For project-based jobs statement of work or milestones are used to indicate progress toward completion, and funds are held in escrow by Elance to ensure payment upon completion of the milestone.
Freelancers search Elance's website for jobs and can research clients' buying histories on the system. Each freelancer can post a profile displaying past jobs and feedback, a portfolio, and specific skill and educational-background information. Registered free users are allowed to submit a limited number of proposals each month while those on paid membership plans can submit additional proposals. Elance offers payment guarantee once work is done using the Elance system.
A 2012 survey of freelancers conducted by Elance indicated that freelancing was the "sole source of income" for 48% of respondents and that 69% had at least a bachelor's degree.
Information technology jobs, such as web and mobile programming and development, account for the majority of earnings on Elance (59%), followed by creative jobs (24%), marketing (7%), and operations (7%). Jobs for writers and graphic designers are also popular. Elance maintains a current list of their overall top 100 in-demand skills, and in 2011, the most in-demand skills were PHP programming, WordPress programming, article writing, graphic design, and HTML programming. Specific data, including global job growth numbers and earnings on the most in-demand skills, is made available on Elance's website.
Awards and recognition
Elance has been cited as an example of the emerging paradigm of informal workplace communication, employing social media tools and cloud-based applications to drive productivity. Elance also caters to the increasingly liquid labor market by facilitating direct contact between contractors with specific skillsets and clients with specific needs. This reduces search friction and benefits the economy as a whole.
According to 2013 reports from Accenture and Deloitte that mention Elance, enterprises are increasingly looking to supplement their permanent employee workforce with flexible, extended workforces of project-based personnel. Business owners support the trend because it lowers their payroll expenditures, and workers support it because working for multiple clients results in increased job security. Project-based hiring also allows small businesses access to highly skilled workers at a significantly lower cost as compared to hiring full-time staff.
In 2009, Elance was selected as one of CNET's Webware 100, an award recognizing products and services that embody Web 2.0 ideals of collaboration and cloud computing. In 2013, Elance was selected as one of Red Herring's top 100 companies.
While Elance has received accolades by the technology industry and business community and there are some good reviews by those who have obtained work through this system, some of those people who actually compete for jobs using this social media have been more critical. Some complain of competition in a global job market with low rates and no benefits, work delivered but not paid for, job descriptions that are not always accurate.
On December 18, 2013, Elance announced that it would sign a definitive agreement to merge with its competitor, oDesk to create an online workplace for a combined total of 8 million registered individuals. A joint statement issued on the same day stated that Fabio Rosati, chief executive officer of Elance, would 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. On May 4, 2015 Elance-oDesk announced that the company was relaunched as Upwork.
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