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US - Online staffing firms Elance and oDesk to merge

December 18 2013

Two of the largest online staffing firms — oDesk and Elance — signed a deal to merge. The merged companies will have a combined global community of more than 8 million freelancers and 2 million businesses in more than 180 countries. They will also have an estimated $750 million in billings in 2013.

The merged company will continue to serve customers on two separate, complementary platforms at elance.com and odesk.com, respectively. Accounts and profile records of current clients and freelancers will not be impacted.

“We are merging two great companies that aspire to connect the world through work and create more economic and social opportunity,” Elance CEO Fabio Rosati said. “Just as Amazon reinvented retail, and Apple iTunes transformed the music industry, we will greatly improve how businesses hire and people work online. This merger will create unprecedented access and flexibility for people to find job opportunities regardless of their location, and will allow businesses of all sizes to more easily access the best available talent.”  

“This merger is a landmark in the evolution of work,” oDesk CEO Gary Swart said. “With 2.7 billion people now connected online, people are hungry for more freedom to work flexibly and for teams to come together more easily. The $422 billion global staffing market is ripe for reinvention. With online work growing at least 10 times more rapidly than staffing overall, oDesk is thrilled to join with Elance in order to innovate faster.”

Rosati will serve as CEO of the combined company, and oDesk Executive Chairman Thomas Layton will continue in the same role at the combined company.

Swart will act as strategic advisor.

“This merger is yet another, very significant development for the online staffing segment in 2013, and it will create a truly dominant player in that segment that enables ‘online/virtual freelancers, globally,’” said Andrew Karpie, affiliate analyst at Staffing Industry Analysts. “How this will play out requires more analysis, but it is my opinion that is another clear step — like the Kelly partnership — toward the point where online/virtual workforce (or talent-as-a-service) will be a commonly-accepted form of work in businesses of all sizes everywhere.”

The merger is subject to regulatory approval and other closing conditions, and is expected to occur in the next four months. The name of the new company post merger will be released after the deal closes.

Elance is based in Mountain View, Calif., with offices in Oslo, Norway. ODesk is based in Redwood City, Calif.

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