Freelancers and the Internet are a perfect pair. Today, online workplace Elance-oDesk announced it has raised $30 million to help more freelancers work online.
Last December, freelancer marketplaces Elance.com and oDesk merged but kept their separate brands. Elance CEO Fabio Rosati became head of the combined company, while oDesk CEO Gary Swart became a strategic advisor. Both sites focus on freelance jobs that can be conducted remotely, such as software programming, writing, customer service, administrative support, and marketing.
The new money will be used to fulfill the company’s vision of “building an online workplace for the world and, in doing so, reimagining work,” CEP Fabio Rosati told VentureBeat.
That includes “expanding our investments in data science to ensure professionals can find each other effectively and create the best possible matches for their work relationships,” he said. The new money will also be invested in new features to support collaboration, and in promoting Elance-oDesk’s Private Talent Cloud, which creates private teams for companies.
The company is also today releasing its 2014 Annual Impact Report, which shows freelancers on Elance and oDesk are “more fulfilled than other professionals, as determined by 12 factors including: time for creative or strategic thinking, opportunities to challenge oneself, high relative income, work/life balance, and control over one’s own career path.”
According to the report, Elance-oDesk generates more than $900 million in freelancer earnings and serves 9.3 million registered freelancers in more than 180 countries.
The new funding was raised in a round led by Benchmark, with participation from current investors T. Rowe Price, FirstMark, Sigma West, NEA, and the Stripes Group. The company noted that this is their first round as a combined company. Previously, Elance and oDesk have raised $138.8 million combined.
Although there are other freelancer sites like Guru.com, iFreelance, and the venerable Craigslist, Rosati told us that Elance-oDesk’s key competitors are traditional staffing firms that handle “contingent work.” But his company has the online advantage of being able “to scale up and down much more on demand,” he said, while providing access to a worldwide talent pool instead of a traditional agency’s more limited local pool.