Toptal was founded in 2010 by Taso Du Val and Breanden Beneschott, both experienced software developers, engineers, and designers. Toptal's mission is to create a network of "elite" software engineers from around the globe to work on custom software design projects. You have to pass through an extensive screening process to be accepted as a Toptal software engineer that includes proving you are proficient in English, being tested on your personality, passing algorithmic tests, and creating a sample project. The company says it usually takes less than 3% of applicants.
Toptal provides engineers who are proficient in multiple platforms, including:
- Ruby on Rails
Toptal claims its network comprises thousands of software engineers and more than 2,000 clients. Toptal announced it achieved 189 percent revenue growth in 2014, and is on track for an $80 million plus run rate for 2015.
- Focused on software engineers
- Networking opportunities
- Global outreach
- Largely good reviews
Focused on Software Engineers: Toptal is run by software engineers and only accepts the top talent in that field. By focusing only on its field of expertise, Toptal promises to provide its clients with talented software engineers who are the best fit for their projects and who can produce excellent work. Toptal also promises the engineers in its network that it handles larger, more complex projects that it terms "serious, intriguing engagements," which will keep the members of its network employed in work that matches their skill levels.
Payroll: Freelancers who belong to the Toptal network do not have to handle payment or billing issues. Toptal bills the clients usually twice a month and then pays the freelancer.
Growth: Toptal has received news coverage from outlets including Forbes and BusinessWire about its success in the niche market of supplying top-flight software engineers from around the world. The company is seeing significant revenue growth and has an impressive list of current investors that includes venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Adam D'Angelo of Quora, Dave Hersh of Jive, and Ryan Rockefeller. With its strong revenue growth and investor capital, Toptal has the resources to attract clients and to keep its members employed.
Networking Opportunities: Toptal sponsors educational and social events for its members. Toptal members also post blogs and provide training on developing technology and trends. The company partners with groups like Major League Hacking, a student hackathon league, to sponsor Hackathons, where students can show off their development work. Toptal also has a Global Mentors Program where Toptal members mentor disadvantaged and low-income students to help them become software engineers.
Global Outreach: Toptal engineers live and work in over 93 countries. Forbes uses Toptal as an example of a company that is helping businesses outsource work to global talent.
Largely Good Reviews: Toptal's Facebook page has 49 five-star reviews from customers and software engineers expressing satisfaction with the work available and the quality of Toptal's members. The Facebook page only has five one-star reviews. Software engineers Michael Houghton and Cameron Barr have posted blogs discussing their satisfaction with Toptal's screening process and the work and salary available to software engineers who make the cut. Barr discusses his experience after a year working for Toptal and praises the company for the quality of the clients, the hassle-free payment process, and states his annual revenue nearly doubled when he joined the Toptal network.
Toptal is a fairly new company with only five years of experience. The company does not list the number of members it has or how many jobs are available to its members before they are accepted into the network. Given the complexity of the screening process to be accepted by Toptal and the fact that only about three percent of applicants make the cut, Freelancers may appreciate additional information about the number and quality of jobs Toptal has available and how many members you will be competing against should you be accepted by the company.
Additional areas where we think Toptal needs to improve its support to freelancers include:
- The number of jobs they have posted (is currently unknown)
- Limited number of registered freelancers
- Unknown costs
- Limited number of payment options
The Bottom Line
With its focus solely on software designers/engineers and its founders and senior staff expertise in the software engineering industry, Toptal is a good company to work for if you are a talented engineer. The application process to join Toptal is complex because the company carefully screens its members to make sure they have the required communication and technical skills to do the job. Toptal has strong financial backing and its revenue growth shows that it is getting work for the members of its network. As with any agreement, if you make the cut and are accepted by Toptal, read the terms of service carefully and ask for clarification if anything confuses or concerns you before you choose to accept the company's offer.
Toptal has the expertise to seek out challenging and well-paid jobs for software engineers and it is actively seeking members in countries throughout the world. Toptal's model can help engineers work where they live and can assist its clients in outsourcing software development projects and designs to the best talent regardless of their location.