Elance-ODesk Rides the 3rd Wave of Freelance Management With New Upwork Platform

The Evolution of Online Contracting

You might say that online, knowledge-based contracting work has evolved in waves. The first wave was basically the advent of email and FTP servers that allowed a contractor to send or upload their work electronically, but you still had to find the contractor or the job through personal or other traditional channels. It was freelance management in its crudest form.

The second wave was the creation of online job marketplaces for freelance workers. Freelancer.com, Elance, oDesk, and newer startups like our own Graphite are but a few examples of this now-solid niche. These were the new market-makers, gathering everyone into a single platform to do business. You could log on to post a temp project or find work without needing to rely on personal connections, and your job or contractor might be in any part of the world.


The Third Wave Arrives

Now, we’re seeing a third wave. Over a year ago, Elance and oDesk, two of the largest players in this industry, merged to form a new powerhouse that generates $1 billion a year in project revenues and a plan to increase that by tenfold in the next six years. The company says it connects 4 million businesses with 10 million knowledge workers every year. Five months after raising $30 million through Benchmark Capital, it has just announced a rebranding under a new name, Upwork.

It’s not just a new name – it’s an all-new freelance management platform that includes a mobile app, new search algorithms, faster processing and a real-time chat service — all free and all included for Upwork users. The chat service isn’t even limited to the Upwork community- anyone can use it. Incorporating these value-enhancing freelance management software tools within its platform is a smart move that gives the company a strong edge over its competitors.

In our last post, we wrote about the rise of freelance management software as an industry, and how it is helping to fuel the freelance economy by providing online team management, administrative and communications tools that make working with far flung teams easy and convenient. Company employees can work seamlessly with groups of contractors, while everyone stays on the same page and nobody misses the memo, like in the bad old days. We definitely see this new move by Upwork as the wave of the future for working with knowledge-based freelancers.

Graphite is always working towards better integration, visibility and efficiency so users can focus on what matters – matching needs to the right talent. Browse our projects, look at some of our talented professionals, or sign up for an account to get full access to the site. (It only takes a second.)

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