Bryan: First of all, maybe you can explain what Freelancer is.
Matt: Freelancer.com is the world's largest outsourcing marketplace connecting about 3 million professionals all over the world. We are a marketplace, similar to eBay, but for outsourcing projects across a wide range of categories from website design to architecture. Freelancer.com primarily connects small businesses and individuals from the western world with freelancers in the developing world, thereby empowering entrepreneurs on both sides of the globe.
To date, we have outsourced over 1.1 million projects through our site. We are also in the top 250 websites globally.
Bryan: What type of tasks can Freelancer workers do?
Matt: Just about anything you can think of. We have over 300 different job categories ranging from data entry to web scraping, to copy typing, to architecture, engineering, science, and manufacturing. If any of our over 300 categories don't fit the type of task you're looking for, we have "Anything Goes" for that.
Bryan: What type of activity/volume do you see on a daily basis?
Matt: 500,000 projects have been posted on the site this calendar year, and almost US$34M in turnover this year as well.
Bryan: What growth have you seen in online outsourcing since Freelancer began in 2004?
Matt: Online outsourcing has grown exponentially over the past decade or so, and this is in no doubt caused by the availability and accessibility of the internet and freelance marketplaces like ours.
When Freelancer.com was acquired in 2009, it only had 500,000 users then. In a span of two years, we saw over a one hundred percent increase in users. It now houses approximately 3 million professionals who have worked on over 1.3 million projects worth over US$100M.
Online outsourcing is also expanding its geographical demographic. We now have users from over 240 countries, regions and territories, including the Antarctic and the Vatican. We also just overtook Mongolia!
Bryan: Where do you see Freelancer in 5 years time? What about the overall future of outsourcing?
Matt: We are right now in the middle of a tectonic shift from an industrial to a digital economy. Every industry is now being digitized.
Simultaneously, technological advances in all forms - most specifically the innovation of the internet - are blurring geographical lines, making it easy for a restaurant owner in Italy to have a logo made by someone in the Philippines, for example. People are now more comfortable with online transactions as well; which makes it more viable for business owners to go online for more cost-efficient business solutions.
Right now, there are 7 billion people in the world. 2 billion are online; the 5 billion are coming. This 5 billion are mostly from third-world countries living on $10.00 a day. The first thing they would do after maybe creating a Gmail and a Facebook account would be to look to improve their standard of living by finding a job online. Freelancer.com will be at the forefront of this influx of users, we will be the platform of their choice.
Bryan: How does Freelancer differentiate itself from the other outsourcing portals?
Matt: We are in the top 250 websites in the world. We have a truly global workforce, with 3 million users from 240 countries, regions, and territories worldwide; whereas our competitors only have around 300,000 users.
Also, our competitors do not share revenues. Their models are somewhat different - targeting overlapping, but also distinct markets.
Bryan: To what extent does Freelancer make of outsourced talent?
Matt: Upon the acquisition of the site in 2009, Freelancer.com originally had four outsourced talents - 3 programmers in the UK and 1 customer support person in Manila, contracted through the site itself. After which, we added about 7 home-based costumer support people. It is only recently that offices and in-house staff have been established.
You can say that we grew as a company by hiring our own users. We still outsource tasks through Freelancer.com from time to time. Some of them eventually become full-time employees.