Elance Reports Strong Q1 ’13 Growth As More Businesses and Freelancers Get Turned-On To Online Work

“Online staffing” platform Elance posted its Q1 2013 numbers today, reflecting healthy growth trends, based in part on global supply and demand conditions for advanced technical expertise. 

Freelancer earnings for the quarter amounted to $60M, up approximately 40% over Q1 2012. 

Elance also reported that “freelancers hired” in Q1 2013 grew 60% over Q1 2012. 

Elance commented on very robust growth in technical types of skills being offered/supplied, saying:  “Experts in STEM (Science, Technology. Engineering, and Math) industries are experiencing an unprecedented level of growth on Elance; freelancers with STEM skill sets have increased 153% year-over-year.” 

According to CMO Rich Pearson, these high growth rates in talent joining the platform are partly the result of Elance’s shifting freelancer marketing/recruiting approaches:   “We are focusing on the bringing the premier freelance talent to Elance.  Everything we say (e.g. freelancers vs contractors), do (policies that prevent bids below a living wage, not forcing all workers to bs subjected to random screenshots in order to get paid) and build (enabling search by portfolios, reducing time to payment) caters towards attracting and retaining high-quality talent on Elance.”

Clearly, the Elance platform is supporting a global marketplace for advanced technical skills.  Elance reports: “The demand for mobile and cloud talent continues to soar: job posts calling for expertise in Windows Azure (+248%,..., iOS (+97%) and Android (+71%) have all surged in Q1 2013 versus a year ago. Cross-platform HTML5 keeps up with a 72% growth, and job posts for software languages like Python and C# have grown 132% and 117%, respectively.”  Elance also notes the emergence and extraordinary growth in the supply of very new technical skills and expertise (such as BitCoin, 3D Printing, et al).

Clearly, demand for online workers has been very strong at the start of 2013.  Overall, 300,000 jobs were posted on Elance in Q1 ’13, up significantly from just the previous quarter, Q4 ’12, when jobs posted came in at about 230,000.  Given the fact that jobs on average are filled at Elance in about 3 days, such a jump in jobs posted may suggest a commensurate rise in freelancer earnings/billings in the coming months, especially if most of this work is higher skilled/higher pay rate work.

No doubt much of this growth is comprised of demand for highly technical, skilled work.  This would not be surprising given overall demand trends and supply constraints, especially in the US.  As we have pointed out in prior reports, IT-related work is also a natural candidate for “online work arrangements” that can be established globally and completed in virtual work environments (and without immigration visa issues). 

How demand for work in one part of the world can be met with supply in another (less economically active) part is captured in this observation: “Eurozone’s unemployment rate hit a record high in Q1 2013 and many young professionals are taking the matter into their own hands, escaping their local economies and working online. In particular, Spain with a youth unemployment rate surpassing 55% has shown 100% growth in freelancer registrations. And with youths facing near 40% unemployment in Italy, online work offers an escape plan, with freelancer registrations growing 126%.”

This Q1 ’13 report certainly seems to indicate that the Elance platform is being successful in capturing both the supply and demand sides of—increasingly global—labor markets for highly skilled, technical professionals.  More information can be found at the Elance website in the Online Employment Report or in the press release.


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