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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)
HeadquartersMountain View, California, U.S.
Area servedWorldwide
Created byBeerud Sheth
Srini Anumolu
Sanjay Noronha
Key peopleStephane Kasriel (CEO), Thomas Layton (Chairman)
IndustryFreelance marketplace
Alexa rankIncrease 410 (As of 19 March 2019)[1]

Upwork, formerly Elance-oDesk,[2] is a global freelancing platform where businesses and independent professionals connect and collaborate remotely. In 2015, Elance-oDesk was rebranded as Upwork.[3] It is based in Mountain View 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 1999 by Beerud Sheth, Srini Anumolu and Sanjay Noronha.[8] oDesk was founded in 2003[9] by Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis.[10] Upwork was formed 18 months after Elance and oDesk announced their merger on December 18, 2013 to create Elance-oDesk.[11] With the launch of Upwork, the oDesk platform was upgraded and rebranded and the company announced that the Elance platform would be phased out within a couple of years, resulting in a single freelance marketplace.[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] This led to the introduction of an Upwork Status page to offer freelancers and clients greater transparency.[citation needed]

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 $1B in annual freelancer billings.[16][17] From its foundation in 1999, the company has raised a total of $168 million through 10 private equity funding rounds.[18]


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.[19]

Location Requirements: U.S. only and UK only jobs[edit]

Upwork has a job filters for service providers in the U.S. and one for service providers in the U.K. .[20][21] These filters allow job posters from the United States and the United Kingdom to specify that people from a certain location can apply to their jobs.

Upwork has a U.S.-only website designed to reduce competition between freelancers in the U.S. and those in other countries. In October 2018, Upwork's CEO Stephane Kasriel said in an interview with CNBC that Upwork had taken steps to help U.S.-based freelancers protect against being undercut by their global counterparts, “Last year, we launched a U.S.-only website, where U.S. freelancers are only competing against other U.S.-based freelancers. And that means they can have rates that are compatible with what they would expect to get in the U.S.”[22]


  1. ^ "Upwork.com Traffic, Demographics and Competitors - Alexa". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  2. ^ a b "Elance-oDesk Becomes 'Upwork' In Push To Build $10B In Freelancer Revenues". Forbes. 5 May 2015. Retrieved 5 May 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 2017-07-28.
  5. ^ "What's a workforce marketplace? How work will get done in the future | Networks Asia". Networks Asia. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  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 2012-01-31. Retrieved 2010-12-25.
  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. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  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. 5 May 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  13. ^ a b "Upwork Just Made a Surprising Decision That Will Change Everything For Freelancers". Inc.com. 2018-07-25. Retrieved 2018-07-25.
  14. ^ Kasriel, Stephane. "Update on Site Performance and Issues". Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  15. ^ Jiang, Ethel (3 October 2018). "Upwork — the largest freelancers' network — soars 50% in trading debut". Markets Insider. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  16. ^ Snagajob. "Snagajob Appoints Former Upwork CEO to Board of Directors". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  17. ^ "TechDay - Upwork's SVP of Marketing Explains What It Takes To Perfect An Offering That Relies On People". techdayhq.com. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  18. ^ "Upwork | Crunchbase". Crunchbase. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  19. ^ Hardy, Quentin. "Big Brother in the Home Office".
  20. ^ "Testing freelancer location for job posts". community.upwork.com. 2017-04-24. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  21. ^ "Location Selection Expanding to UK Clients". community.upwork.com. 2018-09-06. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  22. ^ Belvedere, Matthew J. (2018-10-03). "Upwork IPO rockets over 50% higher at the open in first day of trading". www.cnbc.com. Retrieved 2019-02-04.

External links[edit]