SAN FRANCISCO — With freelance employment growing faster than more traditional full-time work, freelancers and companies need a place to connect and get work done. Such employment market conditions have accelerated the rise of Mountain View, Calif.-based Elance. More than 2 million freelancers have flocked to the service, which has attracted some head-turning backers.
But Elance doesn’t do its job alone, explained Fabio Rosati, the chief executive of Elance, speaking at VentureBeat’s CloudBeat 2013 conference today. In a sense, Elance follows its own model of helping companies use freelancers for some of its own services, except on a larger scale. It relies on lots of other companies for critical elements, Rosati said.
“We obviously have a philosophy of not building what someone else is doing well already,” he told VentureBeat executive editor Dylan Tweney. “Two partners provide testing services for us. They provide over 400 … skills tests. … We use Talkbox, for example, for video conferencing.”
If partners “do not provide APIs [application programming interfaces], we cannot provide the workplace,” Rosati said. Lots of software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses call on others, often through APIs, to offer well-rounded products, and Elance is no different in that regard.
One thing that could distinguish Elance further is a public offering. The company has been around since 1999, and the company could be planning to go public in the next couple of years.
Elance knows enough to not hoard all of the data it collects — and it’s got plenty, Rosati said. Elance provides reports of data in aggregate on the growth of job categories, the hottest countries for different kinds of workers and other subjects. The data has shown, for instance, that employers are keen on finding freelance Android application developers and 3D-printing designers, Rosati said.
And Elance went a few steps further and built out an API of its own for peeking at user profiles and searching the job database. That puts it squarely inside a larger and ever-growing ecosystem of APIs, which seems to be the emerging model for cloud applications.