Elance and oDesk are probably the most well known freelance platforms in Pakistan. Together, they connect 4 million businesses with more than 10 million freelancers. The two companies merged back in December 2013 and flush with a new round of funding of over $30 million, the next step in their evolution is here. Elance-oDesk have rebranded and will now be known as Upwork.
The new name will be accompanied by a new freelance talent platform. That means an all new app, faster processing, better searching algorithms and a real time chat service. If you’re confused, here’s the crux: oDesk as you know it is gone. It will now be known as Upwork and it will redirect to -you guessed it- Upwork. In the meanwhile, Elance remains as it is. In the long run though, the aim of the company is to have a unified platform which means Upwork is the future.
What’s unique about Upwork? Well for starters, Upwork Message Center will act as a centralized hub for all communications. So if you are looking to talk to a freelancer right away, you can do that easily. If you are managing multiple clients or freelancers, simply create separate ‘rooms’ for them.
Much like Slack (a superb much-more-than-chat platform), Upworks Message Center will allow you to share files as well so you can make it the focal point for all client-freelancer communications. Interestingly, Upwork Message Center will be available for everybody. This means even if you don’t use Upwork, you can still use it.
The new iOS-only app (for now) will allow contractors and freelancers to post and accept jobs, proposals and contracts on the move. The app will also allow freelancers to set their availability so that clients can get in touch right away if they are free.
Another important thing is the stress on ‘relationship driven hiring’. Since these platforms make money through service fees which are based on project estimates, Upwork will make sure that the higher caliber of freelancers who command higher rates have more visibility. This will involve making sure they have a steady stream of high quality work. The focus is on faster matches, quicker connections between interested parties while increasing the utility of the platform as whole.
All in all, Upwork seems like a major step ahead in light of increasing competition and can only mean good things for Pakistan’s vibrant freelance community.