SI Review: July 2013


The Buzz

Get Revved

Online Transcription and Translation

By Andrew Karpie

Innovation … Where?

It’s no secret that staffing models are evolving. There is already a broad range of mature “work arrangement intermediation” models today (recruiting firms, temporary staffing agencies, PEOs, outsourcers, etc.) as well as a growing number of businesses that are pursuing innovative models. A young company, Rev, commercially launched in San Francisco in 2011 by former oDesk employees and venture capitalists, is a good example of the growing number of staffing model innovators.

Focus, Focus, Focus

Rev has a clear vertical segment focus: it covers only two related segments: transcription work and translation work. Rev’s clients — generally smaller businesses and media and academic organizations — require high-quality, efficiently provided transcriptions and/or translations. Rev concentrates only on these two vertical work domains so that it can deliver quality and efficient work/service outcomes. And the company’s philosophy of managing and optimizing this work is central to its strategy.

Hybrid Species?

Rev looks like an online staffing firm that is sourcing online workers from all over the world. But it also looks like a business process outsourcer or even a traditional transcription or translation services agency (those established service businesses that have relied heavily on freelance workers, while billing their clients for work performed on a fixed price “per word” or standard unit basis). The reality is that Rev is kind of a “mash-up” or hybrid model. Developing a platform that accomplished all of this is one part of Rev’s innovativeness. The other part is how Rev focuses on work optimization and workforce management.

All About Worker Satisfaction

Rev CEO Jason Chicola, one of the former oDesk employees who started Rev, outlines how Rev’s approach is very different from oDesk’s. The first difference is the vertical focus, and the second is the key reason for that focus: new ways of getting work accomplished. Chicola does not appear to be a Taylorian (or a typical technologist) — he speaks of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, of the primacy of culture, of collaborative effort between translators, transcriptionists and the Rev internal software developers — all seeking to do things better, be more productive, do more business. While the Rev platform is designed to provide clients simple access to language services, most of the investment into the platform goes into increasing worker productivity, quality AND satisfaction. Rev is purposely seeking to attract and retain quality workers not just by providing them with work, but also providing them with tools that enable them to be more productive quality workers AND a virtual environment — replete with collaborative and social features — that will make work (even remote, virtual work) satisfying as well as remunerative.

The Buzz

According to Chicola, the focus of Rev is not just on the platform technology. It’s much more about the workers who need and value relationships, mentorships, collaboration and career development. Productivity notwithstanding, Rev is all about achieving a great work environment for online workers. And that is its secret formula for delivering quality, economical services to its business clients.

Andrew Karpie is a research analyst at Staffing Industry Analysts. He can be reached at


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