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Upwork Global Inc.
Upwork logo
Type of site
Founded Mountain View, California
Predecessor(s) Elance-oDesk
Area served Worldwide
Key people Stephane Kasriel (CEO), Thomas Layton (Chairman)
Industry Freelance recruiting
Website www.upwork.com
Alexa rank Negative increase 491 (December 2017)[1]
Registration Required

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 $1 billion USD, making it is one of the largest freelancer marketplace along with Fiverr.[6][2][7]


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

Clients pay a 2.75% per payment processing fee;[8] some clients are eligible to pay a monthly flat processing fee of $25.[9] Payments can be made using credit cards, PayPal, or bank transfer.[10] Payments are made through Upwork's escrow system, which transfers the funds to freelancers after a 6-day period.[11] Freelancers also pay a fee based on how much they are charging per overall billing to client; 20% under $500, 10% $500-$10000, and 5% $10000+.[12]

The platform offers a time sheet application that tracks time and takes screenshots while the freelancer is working.[13]


Upwork was formed 18 months after Elance and oDesk announced their merger on December 18, 2013 to create Elance-oDesk.[14] oDesk was founded in 2003[15] by Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis.[16] Elance was founded in 1999 by Beerud Sheth and Srini Anumolu.[17] 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.[18]

In early September 2015, the service experienced an outage which led to an apology being issued by CEO Stephane Kasriel.[19] This led to the introduction of an Upwork Status page to offer freelancers and clients greater transparency.[citation needed]

On 3 May 2016, the firm announced that the service fee for freelancers will change from flat rate of 10% to a "sliding service fee" of 5% to 20% based on total lifetime billings with each client: 20% for the first $500 billed to the client across all contracts, 10% for total billings with the client between $500.01 and $10,000, and 5% for total billings with the client that exceed $10,000.[20][21]

As of March 2017, it reported 14 million users in 180 countries with $1B in annual freelancer billings.[22][23] From its foundation in 1999, the company has raised a total of $168 million through 10 private equity funding rounds.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "upwork.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  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. ^ "TechDay - 15 Productivity Tools for Your Startup". techdayhq.com. Retrieved 2017-07-28. 
  9. ^ "Client Payment Processing Fees". Upwork Help Center. Retrieved 2017-10-09. 
  10. ^ Yeoh, Oon (2017-04-23). "The online freelancer". NST Online. Retrieved 2017-07-28. 
  11. ^ "Get Paid for Hourly Contracts". Upwork Help Center. Retrieved 2017-10-09. 
  12. ^ "How It Works - Upwork". www.upwork.com. Retrieved 2017-09-19. 
  13. ^ Hardy, Quentin. "Big Brother in the Home Office". 
  14. ^ Levy, Ari (December 19, 2013). "Elance Merges With oDesk to Boost Service for Freelancers". Bloomberg Technology. San Francisco. Retrieved January 18, 2014. 
  15. ^ "California Secretary of State. Corporate filing date 1/27/2003". Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  16. ^ "The story behind launching oDesk - with Gary Swart - Mixergy". Mixergy. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 2017-07-28. 
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ "oDesk becomes Upwork, but what about Elance?". news.smallbusinesstrends.com. 5 May 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  19. ^ Kasriel, Stephane. "Update on Site Performance and Issues". Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
  20. ^ "Upwork changes pricing format". Staffing Industry Analysts. 4 May 2016. Retrieved 2017-07-28. 
  21. ^ Pofeldt, Elaine. "Freelance Giant Upwork Shakes Up Its Business Model". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-05-06. 
  22. ^ Snagajob. "Snagajob Appoints Former Upwork CEO to Board of Directors". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2017-07-28. 
  23. ^ "TechDay - Upwork's SVP of Marketing Explains What It Takes To Perfect An Offering That Relies On People". techdayhq.com. Retrieved 2017-07-28. 
  24. ^ "Upwork | Crunchbase". Crunchbase. Retrieved 2017-10-09. 

External links[edit]