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Upwork, formerly Elance-oDesk,[2] is a global freelancing platform where businesses and independent professionals connect and collaborate remotely. In 2015, Elance-oDesk was rebranded as Upwork.[3] It is based in Mountain View and San Francisco, California. The full name is Upwork Global Inc.

Upwork Global Inc.
Upwork logo
Type of businessPublic
Russell 2000 Index component
FoundedMay 5, 2015; 4 years ago (2015-05-05)
HeadquartersMountain View, California, U.S.
Area servedWorldwide
Created byBeerud Sheth
Srini Anumolu
Sanjay Noronha
Key peopleStephane Kasriel (CEO), Thomas Layton (Chairman)
IndustryFreelance marketplace
Alexa rankIncrease 410 (As of 19 March 2019)[1]

Upwork has twelve million registered freelancers and five million registered clients.[4][5] Three million jobs are posted annually, worth a total of $1 billion USD, making it the largest freelancer marketplace in the world.[6][2][7]


Elance was founded in 1999 by Beerud Sheth, Srini Anumolu and Sanjay Noronha.[8] oDesk was founded in 2003[9] by Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis.[10] Upwork was formed 18 months after Elance and oDesk announced their merger on December 18, 2013 to create Elance-oDesk.[11] With the launch of Upwork, the oDesk platform was upgraded and rebranded and the company announced that the Elance platform would be phased out within a couple of years, resulting in a single freelance marketplace.[12]

The company was listed on the Inc. 5000 list from 2009-2014.[13]

In early September 2015, the service experienced an outage which led to an apology being issued by CEO Stephane Kasriel.[14] This led to the introduction of an Upwork Status page to offer freelancers and clients greater transparency.[citation needed]

As of March 2017, it reported 14 million users in 180 countries with $1B in annual freelancer billings.[15][16] From its foundation in 1999, the company has raised a total of $168 million through 10 private equity funding rounds.[17]

The company filed for an initial public offering on October 3, 2018.[18][13]


Upwork allows clients to interview, hire and work with freelancers and agencies through the company's platform. The platform includes a real-time chat aimed at reducing the time it takes to find, vet and hire freelancers.[3]

The platform offers a time sheet application that allows freelancers to track their actual time spent working on projects with verified screenshots.[19]

Location Requirements: U.S. only and UK only jobsEdit

In April 2017 Upwork started a U.S. only job filter for job posters who needed services from someone based in a specific location and announced this in the Upwork freelancer community.[20] In September 2018 an UK only filter was established.[21]. This filter allows job posters from the United States and the United Kingdom to specify that people from a certain location can apply to their jobs. That In October 2018 Upwork's CEO Stephane Kasriel said in an interview with CNBC that Upwork had taken steps to help U.S.-based freelancers protect against being undercut by their global counterparts, “Last year, we launched a U.S.-only website, where U.S. freelancers are only competing against other U.S.-based freelancers. And that means they can have rates that are compatible with what they would expect to get in the U.S.”[22]


  1. ^ " Traffic, Demographics and Competitors - Alexa". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  2. ^ a b "Elance-oDesk Becomes 'Upwork' In Push To Build $10B In Freelancer Revenues". Forbes. 5 May 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  3. ^ a b Lunden, Ingrid (May 5, 2015). "Elance-oDesk Rebrands As Upwork, Debuts Slack-Like Chat Platform". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  4. ^ "Two Pakistani organizations selected for Upwork Social Impact Program". Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  5. ^ "What's a workforce marketplace? How work will get done in the future | Networks Asia". Networks Asia. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  6. ^ "Tech in Asia - Connecting Asia's startup ecosystem".
  7. ^ Lawler, Ryan (November 25, 2014). "Eight Months After Merger, Elance-oDesk Raises Another $30 Million Led By Benchmark". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  8. ^ Thomas W. Malone; Robert J. Laubacher. "The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy" (PDF). Harvard Business Review. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-01-31. Retrieved 2010-12-25.
  9. ^ "California Secretary of State. Corporate filing date 1/27/2003". Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  10. ^ "The story behind launching oDesk - with Gary Swart - Mixergy". Mixergy. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  11. ^ Levy, Ari (December 19, 2013). "Elance Merges With oDesk to Boost Service for Freelancers". Bloomberg Technology. San Francisco. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  12. ^ "oDesk becomes Upwork, but what about Elance?". 5 May 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  13. ^ a b "Upwork Just Made a Surprising Decision That Will Change Everything For Freelancers". 2018-07-25. Retrieved 2018-07-25.
  14. ^ Kasriel, Stephane. "Update on Site Performance and Issues". Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  15. ^ Snagajob. "Snagajob Appoints Former Upwork CEO to Board of Directors". Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  16. ^ "TechDay - Upwork's SVP of Marketing Explains What It Takes To Perfect An Offering That Relies On People". Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  17. ^ "Upwork | Crunchbase". Crunchbase. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  18. ^ Jiang, Ethel (3 October 2018). "Upwork — the largest freelancers' network — soars 50% in trading debut". Markets Insider. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  19. ^ Hardy, Quentin. "Big Brother in the Home Office".
  20. ^ "Testing freelancer location for job posts". 2017-04-24. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  21. ^ "Location Selection Expanding to UK Clients". 2018-09-06. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  22. ^ Belvedere, Matthew J. (2018-10-03). "Upwork IPO rockets over 50% higher at the open in first day of trading". Retrieved 2019-02-04.

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