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Let's talk about UpWork (UPWK).
This company will IPO October 2, 2018 and it is expected to price low (maybe $12/share?). The company is selling 6.81 million shares, and selling stockholders are selling 5.45 million shares at $10.00 and $12.00 per share of common stock. It is selling shares at 4.70x forward sales, which does not seem that expensive.
They are arguably the king of supervised freelance work. You go there and ask for any kind of freelancer you can imagine and tons of them are available from all over the world. You can review samples of the work they have done and read reviews. You post a job you want done and you can review all the responses with their bids. You can also restrict your vendor by country or even restrict it to only allow vendors you select and UPWK will contact the vendor.
Historically, they used to be called eLance and oDesk. Elance was founded in 1999 by Beerud Sheth and Srini Anumolu. oDesk was founded in 2003 by Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis. Upwork was formed 18 months after Elance and oDesk announced their merger on December 18, 2013 to create Elance-oDesk.
Personally I used to use eLance and loved it. After the merger I did not like the new GUI as much as before when I used eLance but Upwork has twelve million registered freelancers and five million registered clients. Three million jobs are posted annually, worth a total of $1 billion USD. So it is hard to beat those numbers.
UPWK handles the contract for you and they moderate everything online. Basically they act as a escrow for your job. They take your payment and wait until the job is over and agreed to. You use their blogging window which is exclusive to you and your vendor (you can upload files too). When both parties agree the contract is over they then release the escrow money to the vendor after taking their fee. You are allowed to tip if you want to.
It seems to me that this will be a very big field of activity. The big push going forward will be to do a lot of contract work online so you avoid lawsuits and having to pay for employees when there is no work, etc.
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