A few weeks ago, I wrote about upcoming initiatives and announced a new era of innovation for our company with the goal of becoming the premier online workplace for professionals. Today, I write to share the news of a leadership transition at Elance-oDesk. I have identified a talented leader, Stephane Kasriel—who knows our business, loves what we do, and cares about our community—to be my successor as chief executive officer.
As many of you know, I have led our company for more than a decade. While the ideal length of a CEO’s tenure is up for debate (see this article and this one), all companies benefit from renewal and the occasional self-disruption. I love this team and the job so much that I would never want to leave, yet I have been thinking about succession plans since before the merger of Elance and oDesk.
In Stephane, I see both business vision and technological brilliance: he is an exceptional leader who is passionate about our mission and has the respect of the entire team. As SVP Engineering and Product, Stephane has driven many of the innovations we will soon unveil. He has achieved them by leading a global team of 300 product managers, designers, and engineers—many of whom are members of our amazing freelance community. From this role, Stephane understands first hand not only our technology, but also how to best work with professionals around the world.
Before joining us, Stephane held executive roles at PayPal as Global Head of PayPal Consumer Products, Global Head of Mobile Business Development, and Managing Director of PayPal France. He also founded and co-founded multiple companies, holds 15 web-related patents and has an MBA from INSEAD, an MS in Computer Science from Stanford, and a BS from Ecole Polytechnique in France. I could not be more confident in Stephane’s ability to lead us. For more information see our press release here.
You may be asking, “Why now?” Our company is at its strongest. We have a clear strategy and the resources to execute, including an exceptional team, great customers, and premier investors. Elance-oDesk is a company with an important mission: to provide a workplace for the world. We are the future of work. Our potential for impact and growth is huge—we still have 99% of the market opportunity ahead of us.
We have been working on some very exciting stuff, and there will be more specifics on our company’s next chapter coming within a few weeks. I wanted Stephane to own our new chapter from its first page. I take great pride in handing the reins to someone as passionate about our community as I am. Stephane has the brains, heart, and compass to make this next chapter a monumental one for you. But most importantly, Stephane is committed to creating a better future for work.
My number one priority now is to campaign for Stephane’s and your success. I am looking forward to assuming the role of board member, shareholder, and user. There will not be any substitute for the experience of working here with you and I am humbled to have served such a diverse, talented, and special community. On behalf of the 300 employees and more than 500 freelancers who make up the Elance-oDesk team, thank you for being my inspiration.
Since our beginning, Elance-oDesk has focused on matching top professionals to create great working relationships.
Today we’re excited to announce that we’ll be taking those relationships to the next level, as we expand to include online dating.
“We have the best matching technology in the world,” notes our SVP of product and engineering Stephane Kasriel. “But it became clear to our data science team that we could also leverage these algorithms for even greater social impact. Specifically, to help our community find soul mates as well as ideal work colleagues.”
However, unlike traditional online dating services that pair people using outdated and often-frivolous interests such as hobbies, pets, sports teams or other leisure pursuits, our new matching solution is focused on professional interests, careers, and what we do best: Skills. “A mutual interest in twerking or fermenting kimchi can sustain a relationship for a few months,” points out SVP of marketing Rich Pearson. “But a shared passion for WordPress or iOS development will form a lifetime bond.”
A logical evolution.
This new offering should come as no surprise to our established clientele, as we’ve long encouraged a healthy work-life balance. “Many in our community are so passionate about work, they often forget to stop and smell the roses,” adds SVP of operations Elizabeth Tse. “Now, on a single platform, people can reach professional milestones in the afternoon, and dating milestones later that same evening.”
Early reviews of our new online dating service show that the offering is warmly received by community members. This includes a handful of professionals participating in our beta program, which launched this past Valentine’s Day.
One notable success story is Berlin-based Oskar Holstein and Shobha Chowda of Mumbai, who we recently matched online. He a web designer and she a web developer, the match has been mutually rewarding. “We complete each other,” says Shobha. Adds Oskar, “Only the most sophisticated matching algorithms understand that when it comes to this crazy little thing called love, sometimes opposites attract.”
Although Oskar and Shobha haven’t yet connected in person, they continue to spend quality time in the secure online “Hangout” we provide. Like our secure online Workrooms, each Hangout features the tools and resources needed for great communication and long-lasting partnerships. This includes video chatting, translation services, and even prenuptial agreements should the relationship advance.
An equally logical evolution of our name and brand.
Although we’ll naturally continue to focus on matching professionals to create amazing working relationships, this new emphasis on online dating has also led us to do some soul searching about our name. While Elance-oDesk is technically correct, the name fails to inspire our community and address our growing emphasis and passion.
With this in mind, we’re equally thrilled to announce that we’ve officially renamed our company Elove-oDate. This new name pays tribute to our past, our future, and our ongoing commitment to connecting people who are searching for great work and great relationships.
You’ll begin to see exciting additions to the Elove-oDate platform soon. This includes new profile pages and client overviews—each expanded to list your relationship status, song you’re currently listening to, and even your favorite Work From Home Wardrobe. You’ll also find photo enhancement tools like red-eye removal, as well as the ability to send a “Happy Hour Flirt” or “Working Now? Wink” to a colleague’s inbox.
We hope you’ll enjoy these added online dating features, and that you’re as excited as we are about this new option for making truly meaningful connections. As summarized by CEO Fabio Rosati: “Now, regardless of whether you’re searching for a work partner or a life partner, we can help. And that’s our passion here at Elove-oDate.”
Editor’s note: Yes, a quick peek at your calendar confirms that today is April Fools’ Day, and that this blog post is in jest. In case you’re not familiar with April Fools’ Day, it’s a kinda-sorta holiday in many countries, where folks celebrate by playing practical jokes and hoaxes on each other. We couldn’t resist!
An important update from Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance and oDesk, about the company vision and what it means for our community in 2015 and beyond.
Dear Elance Community,
Since the merger last year, I’ve spent every moment thinking about our amazing professional communities and the future of online work. Advancements in technology and data science are transforming how we connect, share, collaborate and learn. The freelance economy is growing exponentially — each year more businesses hire freelance professionals and more people choose freelancing as a career. We are heading towards a new online meritocracy, a connected workplace where everyone can access economic and professional opportunities.
While we already are the largest online workplace, there is a great deal more for us to do to become the world’s premier online workplace for professionals.
The work we do daily to meet the rapidly evolving needs of our community — upgrades to our platform as new technologies become available, scaled operations to better serve everyone as our community grows, and continued investments to engage more clients and top talent — is not enough. To realize our vision of becoming the premier online workplace for professionals we need to innovate at an even faster pace.
Over the next several months you will begin to see many new initiatives:
· Improvements to how clients and freelance professionals meet each other, including better matching and
· New collaboration and productivity tools for both desktop and mobile devices
· More resources to measure quality, screen jobs and help our community succeed
· Expanded customer service to provide fast, friendly and reliable support
· And so much more based on your input and a large number of R&D efforts
We are eager to bring these improvements to you. To accelerate innovation we will focus the majority of these initiatives on one of our platforms, oDesk. Members of the Elance community will be able to experience the improvements via a bridge we are developing between the two online workplaces. Within a year or two we will have a new platform where everyone will access the latest innovations at the same time.
I’ll continue to share our progress towards our vision over the coming months. In the meantime, you can find answers to many of your questions here.
My daily thoughts remain focused on building the best possible online workplace for high quality clients and top freelance professionals. On behalf of the 300 employees and over 500 freelancers who make up the Elance-oDesk team, thank you for being our inspiration.
As we wrap up 2014, Elance-oDesk has released a year-end data report – the 2014 Global Online Work Report. It reveals insights ranging from hot skills to today’s state of online work, and is geared towards helping freelancers and businesses plan for an even more successful year ahead.
Feel free to dig deeper, but here are five eye-opening takeaways:
1. Steep gains in Customer Service. The fastest growing position (by freelancer earnings, worldwide) is Customer Service, up 92% for the year.
2. Steady ascent of Mobile. The fastest growing work category by freelancer earnings is Mobile (up 43% globally for the year … including 76% in the U.S.).
3. QA Testing hits new highs. Worldwide, QA Testing is the hottest job based on total projects posted (up 147% for the year).
4. Swift rules stateside. In the U.S., Swift-based jobs are the hottest – based on total jobs posted (up 150% for the year).
5. Freelancer earnings escalate dramatically. Global earnings continue to rise, as professionals approach the $1 billion mark in 2014 earnings (helping add up to a grand total of over $3.2 billion earned on Elance-oDesk all time).
One of the most satisfying aspects of working at Elance-oDesk is knowing that what we do here makes a difference in the lives of clients and freelancers around the world. Which is why I am thrilled to unveil our 2014 Annual Impact Report—a look at how online freelancing has transformed the way we work, leading to greater fulfillment and freedom for all.
When it comes down to it, this report is about you—your stories and your success. I hope you’ll take a moment to read through and feel proud to be a member of this dynamic and inspirational community.
It’s a real challenge today finding great benefits at an affordable price. Especially for U.S. freelancers, who unfortunately can’t tap into bulk packages of corporate America.
That’s why Elance-oDesk is excited to further expand our partnership with Freelancers Union – the nation’s largest labor institution representing 250,000+ independent workers. Today we’re teaming with the organization to announce their open enrollment for benefits, including:
Freelancers Union has formed exclusive partnerships with benefits providers, negotiating flexible, low-cost benefits honed towards independent workers. These programs are easy to enroll in (there’s no eligibility requirements) plus there’s no “joining fee.” And because Freelancers Union is a non-profit organization, all income collected from benefits are reinvested in advocacy, education and services for freelancers.
If you’re not familiar with Freelancers Union, the organization itself is free to join too. They offer many additional and exclusive discounts, plus an online community of fellow freelancers ready to exchange ideas and help your build your network and find work.
Attend a benefits webinar on Wednesday November 19.
The Freelancers Union team will host a free webinar this Wednesday, outlining benefit options and answering your questions. RSVP to attend and discover how Elance-oDesk and Freelancers Union are partnering to build a better future for freelancers.
Here’s a quick announcement from our Partnerships Marketing Manager, Aleksandra Sasha Markova.
Elance-oDesk is excited to co-sponsor a fun and dynamic new hackathon that knows no boundaries. Literally.
For the first time ever be part of an exclusively virtual big time hack -- whether you’re in a high tech hub or a beachside hot tub. Simplyenter the Global Virtual Hackathon and do your magic from wherever you are.
You’ll compete online for $18,000 in cash prizes from organizerKoding. Plus the top Elance-oDesk team will earn an additional $2,500, with other sponsors offering more prizes too. It’s also a great opportunity to show off your skills and make your mark in the global community of developers.
Enter as a team, or as an individual programmer or developer.
Sign up now as the application deadline is November 21 (the hack itself is December 6-7), and the competition is limited to 1,000 teams.
Each team will consist of up to five coders and/or developers. If you’re a talented individual looking for a team to hook-up with, you can easily connect through the hackathon’s website. Your specific hack will focus on one of several available themes (which will be announced soon), but think timely topics such as global finance, climate change, education, healthcare, travel and such.
Elance-oDesk is thrilled to help usher in distributed engineering.
The Global Virtual Hackathon is another example of how work is moving online. We’re proud to support our community of developers, and to be a major force in bringing work to talented people wherever they are.
We’re also proud that oDesk Co-Founder Odysseas Tsatalos will be a hackathon judge, joining reps from Fortune 100 and innovative tech companies, as well as noted investors and journalists.
Hackathon organizers report that over 4,000 programmers and developers from around the globe have already signed-up for the event. Soregister today and get ready to impress the judges and the world with your coding talents, no matter where you hack from.
Aleksandra Sasha Markova, Elance-oDesk Partnerships Marketing Manager
As Partnerships Marketing Manager, Sasha develops industry partnerships and marketing plans that introduce more businesses and freelancers to the benefits of online work. Prior to joining Elance-oDesk Aleksandra co-founded Blackbox, a seed stage accelerator focused on helping non-U.S. startups. Originally from Russia, she now lives in the Bay Area. Follow Sasha @Lady1337.
Below are thoughts from Jaleh Bisharat, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Elance-oDesk and Dan Schawbel, founder of Gen Y consulting firm Millennial Branding.
A quick glance around confirms what you’ve probably suspected for a long time. Our workforce is getting younger and younger.
Call them what you want -- Millennials, Gen Y, or Echo Boomers -- there’s no ignoring the fact that those in their early 20’s to early 30’s are a critical part of today’s workplace. Ditto for the near future, as Bureau of Labor Statistics employment projections show that in 2015 millennials will overtake Baby Boomers and Generation Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. workforce.
New study goes a step further, outlining how work is changing and the influence of millennials.
To understand how millennials are impacting the workforce, Elance-oDesk and Millennial Branding teamed up on an in-depth study, The 2015 Millennial Majority Workforce. Surveying over 1,000 millennial workers and 200 hiring managers, the study revealed eye-opening facts. Here are a few highlights:
1. Millennials are integral to the future of business.
Not only will millennials become the largest generation in the workforce next year, they are poised to play a leading role in business for years to come. The study shows that 28% of millennials are already at management level, and two-thirds expect to be in management roles ten years from now.
Beyond power in numbers and rank, millennials possess characteristics that businesses need to be innovative -- they bring fresh ideas, adaptability, and creativity.
2. Millennials have the skills businesses seek to stay agile and innovative.
As businesses look to hire (the August U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Report shows 4.8 million job openings, the highest number in 13 years), hiring managers are shifting gears. The study found they’re prioritizing hard skills over personality when hiring as they seek STEM skills especially -- the skills in the shortest supply. From 3D printing and cloud computing to wearable technology, genetic modification and aerial mapping, millennials report possessing hot emerging skills. Hiring managers think millennials -- the first digital native generation -- are more technically adept than past generations.
3. Hiring managers are having difficulty finding and retaining millennials.
Millennials in The 2015 Millennial Majority Workforce study reveal that they want more than traditional employers now offer. Seeking more flexibility and greater control than “9 to 5” jobs give them, hiring managers are finding it increasingly difficult to hire and retain millennials for staff positions. Unlike past generations, 58% of millennials expect to stay in their job fewer than three years and more than half think corporate loyalty is outdated. This puts them in a position of power as companies seek to keep them.
4. Millennials are turning to freelance work and entrepreneurial opportunities at a record pace.
79% of millennials report that they would consider quitting their regular job to work for themselves. When discussing independent work, millennials cite several attractive characteristics of freelancing. This includes flexible work times and location independence, as well as the ability to pick and choose projects. Eight in ten millennials also said that technology is making it easier to start a business today -- another option for this highly entrepreneurial generation.
Long story short, the future looks bright for millennial workers.
Millennials are reinventing what it means to be a professional as they face rapid change being driven by a multitude of influences such as technology and the economy. They are proving to be a highly adaptable generation, however -- one that is different by necessity and teaming with ingenuity.
What we’ve shared here is just the tip of the iceberg. We invite you to check out the complete 2015 Millennial Majority Workforcereportto see how work is changing and what you can do to gain a competitive advantage.
About Jaleh Bisharat, Elance-oDesk Senior Vice President of Marketing
Jaleh Bisharat, Elance-oDesk’s Senior Vice President Marketing, is a seasoned marketing executive with a history of growing startups into vibrant brands that inspire passion in their customers. Before joining Elance-oDesk, she was the Vice President of Marketing at several innovative companies including OpenTable, Jawbone, and Amazon.com, and also served on the Board of Directors at OpenTable and Homestead Technologies. Jaleh received a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Government from Harvard-Radcliffe and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
About Dan Schawbel, Founder and Managing Partner of Millennial Branding
Dan Schawbel is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success and the #1 international bestselling book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future. Dan is a columnist at both TIME and FORBES, and has been featured in over 1,000 media outlets, such as “The Today Show” on NBC, “Street Signs” on CNBC, “The Nightly Business Report” on PBS, “The Willis Report” on Fox Business, The Economist and Wired Magazine.
It’s official! The freelancer economy has arrived. In a big way.
Our recent Global Online Work Report reveals that freelancers have now earned a cumulative $2.9 billion (yes billion, with a “b”) on the Elance-oDesk platforms. This amazing figure is a testament to the growing adoption of a more agile work model, where businesses and talent can connect with unprecedented ease.
Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to help us approach this momentous milestone. We look forward to bringing you more major developments as our community continues working online at record pace.
There are other juicy nuggets among the report’s findings too, so feel free to browse the highlights. You’ll find Q3 2014 numbers on everything from the hottest skills (spoiler alert: QA Testing is up 250%) to the growth rate of job categories (as long as we’re spilling the beans, “mobile” leads the way with a whopping 49% increase in earnings). There are numerous client-focused facts and figures as well, from job posting figures and spend by category to average time to hire.
Health and finance benefits are important issues for entrepreneurs around the globe. Here is an important message from Caitlin Pearce of Freelancers Union.
The world of work is changing quickly, evolving into a global economy where freelancing is the norm. Now more than ever, freelancers need a support system to help build lives of meaningful independence, where their health, finances, and the safety of their families are protected.
In the United States part of this support system is the Freelancers Union—a non-profit organization that has partnered with Elance-oDesk to launch the National Benefits Platform. This program offers benefits like health care, 401(k)s, and life, disability and liability insurance to freelancers.
Fully searchable, the National Benefits Platform allows U.S.-based freelancers to search by zip code to see what benefits are available in their area.
This platform is being built by, and for, independent workers. We aren’t just trying to create better careers and more flexible lifestyles—we’re collaborating, connecting, and supporting each other. And together, we’re leading the way towards more stable, healthy lives.
Caitlin Pearce is Senior Manager of Strategic Initiatives at Freelancers Union, the nation's largest group representing the growing independent workforce. Overseeing partnerships and new initiatives for the 250,000-member union, Caitlin is a guiding force in the union's drive to help the new workforce build a more sustainable, mutualistic society.