Online workplace Elance-oDesk announced it has raised $30 million to help more freelancers work online. A year ago, freelancer marketplaces Elance.com and oDesk merged but maintaned separate brands. Elance CEO Fabio Rosati became head of the combined company, while oDesk CEO Gary Swart became a strategic adviser. 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. 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 its 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 said 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.
Elance-oDesk offers up a platform to connect businesses looking for short-term and freelance help with online workers who have time to do the jobs available. It offers both hourly and milestone-based gigs for workers, and handles all invoicing and payment processing, ensuring both quality of work and timeliness of pay.