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July 6, 2015

Elance-oDesk Relaunches as Upwork, Debuts New Freelance Talent Platform

Upwork ushers in a new chapter of online work, making it easier for businesses to find talent quickly — aims at real-time hiring and collaboration

Elance-oDesk, the world’s largest freelance talent marketplace, today relaunched with a new name, Upwork, and a new freelance talent platform, also called Upwork. Talent, like software before it, is shifting online. As the online work market leader, Upwork is the driving force behind the reimagination of work and represents a new chapter of innovation. As part of the new Upwork platform, the company also debuted new features aimed at connecting businesses with great talent faster than ever (within minutes).

There is a global talent pool for businesses to tap into

In the U.S. alone, 53 million professionals freelanced last year1. Globally, independent professionals are earning more than $1 trillion per year2. “There is literally an earth-sized talent pool of freelance professionals out there, and yet most businesses still limit their thinking to rigid local hiring models,” said Stephane Kasriel, CEO at Upwork. “Upwork’s launch signals a new chapter of work in which people are able to hire quality talent — regardless of where the professional happens to be — in minutes. Freelancers were already earning $1 billion annually via Elance-oDesk — I predict they will earn $10 billion annually via Upwork within six years.”

New Upwork freelance talent platform makes finding quality talent online easier

“Hiring is one of the most important things a business does, and yet it’s also the hardest and most time-consuming. Upwork’s new platform will radically disrupt hiring norms, making it much easier to hire a proven, high-quality freelancer quickly as well as to collaborate with them after the hire,” said Hayden Brown, VP of Product Management at Upwork.

Highlights of the new Upwork platform’s innovation include:

Faster hiring – Traditionally it took around three weeks to hire. Upwork’s innovations will make it possible to hire in minutes or less by factoring in availability and immediacy of response (i.e., is the freelancer available to engage in a chat-like interview instantly?) when finding freelancers. To do this the platform utilizes:

Enhanced matching algorithms developed by Upwork’s team of Stanford PhDs.

A new work status feature allowing freelancers to set their availability (“Right away,” “Later” or “Not looking”).

Upwork’s new mobile app, from which it’s possible to post jobs, submit proposals, review applicants and contract on the fly – enabling hires to be made from devices in minutes.

Real-time group collaboration – Upwork also includes a new real-time group collaboration tool that is similar to Slack but completely free and available to anyone on the web with no limitations (users don’t have to be an Upwork customer otherwise). These new features enable immediate collaboration after a hire, allowing clients to file share and communicate with their new workers instantaneously. Support for video and integrations with popular tools such as GitHub, Google Drive and Jira are also expected later in 2015.

Upwork launch disrupts hiring norms and represents a new chapter of online work

The launch of Upwork comes two weeks after announcing the promotion of Stephane Kasriel, previously the company’s top tech executive, to chief executive officer. Kasriel led a global team of 300+ engineers, designers and programmers — many of whom are freelancers hired from the company’s own marketplace — to create the new Upwork platform.

Businesses are already posting more than 3 million freelance jobs and conducting 100 million searches annually on the Elance and oDesk platforms.
“Though we are already the largest freelance talent marketplace — with $1B in freelancer earnings annually and the first online marketplace large enough to qualify for a ranking of top U.S. staffing and talent engagement firms — enormous market opportunity remains, and we decided it’s time to up the ante. This new platform will make hiring near-instant, which is a radical reimagination of work,” said Kasriel.
“This has implications not only for the way people work, but for the job market itself. Reduce the friction in a job market and you open up more opportunity,” said John Horton, Assistant Professor of Information, Operations and Management Sciences at NYU Stern School of Business and former Staff Economist at oDesk.
There have been three chapters of work’s shift online:

Chapter 1 (2000). Resumes and job classifieds move online

Sites moved job-related content online. Job boards (such as and Craigslist) and professional profile sites (such as LinkedIn) made information more readily available, but didn’t provide clear indication of whether professionals were currently motivated to find work. They also focused on traditional hiring of full time, on-premise employees.

Chapter 2 (2005 – 2015). Online workplaces launch

Sites such as and launched and — in addition to providing job listings, profiles and other context needed for hiring — enabled the actual work to happen online, thereby reducing dependencies on physical location and opening up a broader talent pool. These sites disrupted traditional hiring models and empowered flexible work by enabling clients to connect with motivated independent professionals actively looking for freelance work.

Chapter 3 (2015 – future). Online work goes real-time 

Upwork represents a new chapter in which real-time hiring will be realistic for businesses. Traditionally it took around three weeks to hire; now, Upwork is at an average of three days to hire, and within the year it will be possible to hire in minutes or less. With a clear indication of the best professional actively available across a global talent pool, the biggest barriers to hiring — bandwidth and availability of specific skills — will disappear.

“This chapter will deliver the increased opportunity that comes with less job market friction to both clients and independent professionals. We are a company that will be around in 100 years. Upwork’s launch up-levels our innovation as we lead the online work industry into a new chapter,” said Kasriel.

About Upwork
Upwork is the world’s largest freelance talent marketplace. As an increasingly connected and independent workforce goes online, knowledge work —like software, shopping and content before it— is shifting online as well. This shift is making it faster and easier for clients to connect and work with talent in near real-time and is freeing professionals everywhere from having to work at a set time and place.

Freelancers are earning more than $1 billion annually via Upwork. Upwork is headquartered in Mountain View, California, with offices in San Francisco, California, and Oslo, Norway.

For more information, visit our website at, join us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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