Randstad, the world’s second-largest staffing firm, is investing in Berlin-based twago, an online marketplace for freelance work, through the Randstad Innovation Fund. It is the second investment for the fund, which Randstad Holding nv launched in March.
Twago, the largest pan-European online marketplace for freelance work, enables companies to connect online with freelancers and collaborate on projects. Examples include website development, online marketing, mobile app developments and data entry projects.
The amount of the investment was not disclosed, but it will be used for development of the product and hiring of people.
“There have been numerous signs, starting in 2013, that staffing firms are starting to engage online staffing and other human cloud platforms as a way to explore innovative approaches in the staffing business,” said Andrew Karpie, affiliate analyst at Staffing Industry Analysts. “With its investment in Gigwalk earlier this year, and now twago, Randstad’s activities are the most visible and material to date. Some staffing firms are starting to look over the horizon beyond temp staffing and SOW models and consider that there may be other valuable ways of intermediating work between clients and contingent workers.”
Twago targets seven European countries — most notably Germany, the U.K., Spain, Italy and France — and is not expected to expand to the United States. More than 255,000 experts and agencies in more than 190 countries offer services on the platform. Since its inception in 2009, twago has generated more than €250 million in project volume.
“With this investment, we recognize the trend of remote freelance work via platforms,” said Linda Galipeau, executive board member at Randstad. “The market of online platforms for freelance projects has great growth potential. This way of working eliminates geographical borders for project work and gives SME companies access to experts worldwide.”
“A global leader like Randstad gives us the possibility to further improve our service portfolio and our leadership as the pan-European freelance marketplace,” said Thomas Jajeh, twago’s founder and managing director.
RIF intends to build a portfolio of multiple smaller investments over the next couple of years. Its first investment was San Francisco-based Gigwalk, an online platform that enables consumer brands and retailers to track and improve retail execution via a network of mobile-enabled independent contractors. The fund will invest in the following areas: social sourcing, online platforms, mobile solutions, virtual solutions, gamification and big data analytics.