O-Desk – Elance Merger – Implications for a Freelancer

If you were to ask the freelance workers on where they usually sought work opportunities, you would probably hear two popular names. For many years, O-Desk and Elance were the two most popular online staffing marketplaces that offered a platform where employers can post a project and freelancers can bid for these projects. But what happens when two arch rivals from the same industry join hands and become one big entity. Globally, as the industry matures, there comes a phase of consolidation. Yes you guessed it right, O-Desk and Elance have now united to form an even bigger freelancer marketplace to be reckoned with. As per the reports, the merger has been less than receptive in the community as more and more freelancers and employers have their own share of concerns. Few angry customers and freelancers let their opinion be heard over the Facebook pages of both these portals and even their community blogs. The O-Desk and Elance users have a consensus that these two portals are separated by some fundamental differences and any attempt to integrate them will significantly reduce the usability and overall value.

Odesk and Elance
Odesk and Elance

Image Source : BrainTechnoSys

Below I am sharing some of the most commonly received responses against the motion –

1. Some users mentioned that Elance’s minimum hourly rate restriction ($3/hr) and Escrow Guarantee on Fixed price should remain and the same be replicated by O-Desk

2. One more interesting thing which was proposed was that the O-Desk’s team application to be replaced by Elance’s tracker since it is way better than the other.

3. Since Elance treats its agencies (also known as companies) in a far better way than O-Desk, so that should be adopted by O-Desk as well.

4. Equal weightage to be given to the products of both the platforms

5. O-Desk, over years, had gained the reputation of favoring low cost labor at the expense of quality and there were concerns that O-Desk freelancers would undercut the pricing of Elance platform and dilute the quality. As it is, some freelancers at O-Desk had offered work for as low as $1/hour or $0.5/hour.

6. People had also raised concerns on the fact that the merger would set monopoly of the new entity which would empower it to set terms that would propel its growth at the cost of users.

The representatives from Elance and O-Desk were quick to understand the backlash and added FAQs related to the merger on both the portals. One thing they clearly highlighted was that the two platforms will continue to operate as different entities and that the merger was a business move to expand the market and trigger its growth. Even Fabio Rosati, the CEO of Elance and Gary Swart, CEO of O-Desk commented that forming a single entity would be like forcing a square peg into a circular hole and that the business will flourish when both the platforms perform separately under one umbrella.
In reality, one can say that any kind of change is accompanied with some level of frustration as a small group of loyal revolutionists will always react emotionally to the change. People observing the game too closely also have the opinion that if they aspire to become the next Google or Facebook in the space of online staffing and freelancing, then the move had brought them one step closer to their ambitions.

The Way Ahead

Looking forward into this promising and opportunistic space, one can say that the prevailing model at work in the staffing marketplaces needs to be tweaked and optimized to make it easier for the clients to connect with their preferred freelancers and also to make it seamlessly easier for the freelancers to grab the opportunities. Together the two entities hold the accountability to give a direction to this sector and synergize to attract more customers, more projects, more freelancers and more investments too. Increasing the revenues of the freelancers is the true litmus test for the success of the action.

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