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Online work set to become a US$5 billion industry, oDesk leads growth with over US$1 billion spent on its online workplace

Announcement posted by Upwork 06 Aug 2013

Online work set to become a US$5 billion industry, oDesk leads growth with over US$1 billion spent on its online workplace

  • Australia is leading adoption of online work as oDesk’s top country for hiring (based on spend per capita)
  • Online work helps close talent gaps and empowers businesses, especially startups
  • A long tail of specialised professionals is emerging as businesses access skills they need via the Internet – almost 2,400 skills were listed on oDesk last year

Sydney and Melbourne – August 6, 2013 – oDesk®, the world’s largest online workplace, today announced that more than US$1 billion has been spent on work conducted via its platform and Australia is leading the charge as the top hiring country based on spend per capita. This milestone highlights significant disruption taking place in the way businesses staff and in the way people work, with the entire online work industry set to reach US$5 billion by 2018. [1]

Data released by oDesk today confirms that online work is fulfilling increasing demand for specialised professionals. Startups especially are turning to online work as tech innovations – including the ability to hire team members via the Internet -- make it easier to start a business from anywhere.

“Work is no longer a place,” said Gary Swart, CEO of oDesk. “Businesses are building flexible, distributed teams which create more economic opportunity for everyone. Online work is especially empowering startups, as the Internet connects them with the skilled professionals they need.”

Announcement Highlights:

oDesk is releasing data that shows how it is transforming the world of work, including:

●        Online work is taking off and Australia is leading the way

  • Globally, US$1 billion has now been spent on oDesk alone
  • Australia is the top hiring country on oDesk based on spend per capita

●        Online work is helping to close talent gaps, empowering businesses (especially startups) to grow and be competitive

  • 58% of businesses hiring on oDesk classify themselves as startups

●        Online work is contributing to the Australian economy

  • 57% of money earned by Australian freelancers in 2012 came from foreign clients – bringing over $1 million into the local economy

●        A long tail of skills is emerging -- Almost 2,400 skills were listed on oDesk last year and this number continues to climb

  • In 2007 just four categories of skills represented 90% of spend on oDesk, and by 2012, 35 categories represented 90% of spend

Online work has arrived

The online work market grew 67% in 2012, according to Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), and is expected to reach US$5 billion by 2018. [1] oDesk is the first company in the space to reach US$1 billion cumulative in spend and is the world’s largest online workplace.

Says Swart: “Today, it’s all about finding the right people to work together. Bringing the work to the worker via the Internet is quickly becoming the norm. Businesses want the best talent to ensure their competitiveness, and professionals want freedom and flexibility.”

Collaborative consumption thought leader and founder of Collaborative Lab, Rachel Botsman says, “Technology unlocks the idling capacity of all kinds of assets including people's skills, passions and time. We are heading into a future where accessing a distributed workforce will become the norm.”

Australia is leading the way in adoption

In terms of dollars spent by Australian clients per capita, Australia is oDesk’s number one country for hiring, demonstrating the willingness for businesses and workers alike to embrace technology to realise new ways of working locally and globally. Over 53,000 Australian businesses – almost 2.5% of all Australian businesses [2] – have registered on oDesk. Australian clients posted almost 81,000 jobs in 2012. At the same time, the amount of hours billed by Australian freelancers has increased by 269% in two years, with 3.3 million hours billed in 2012. In 2012 alone, 57% of money earned by Australian freelancers came for foreign clients – bringing over $1 million back into the local economy.

“Work can and will be done anywhere in the world. Australia’s future success depends on us tapping the best global talent, so it’s exciting to see Australian businesses in the vanguard,” said Ross Dawson, futurist and author of Getting Results From Crowds.

Previous work models restrict business success

Despite a tight economy, there is widespread recognition that skills gaps still exist. In fact, 66% of multinational companies say “talent shortages are likely to affect their bottom line in the next 5 years.” [3]

Online workplaces are creating a flexible, global community of businesses and professionals who can now work together to close these talent gaps.

On-demand access to skills is empowering businesses everywhere, especially startups

In addition to a growing number of enterprise companies, 58% of businesses hiring on oDesk classify themselves as startups. [4] These businesses are gaining access to the skills they may not otherwise be able to find or hire.

A recent report by Google and PwC estimated that the Australian technology startup sector has the potential to contribute $109 billion or 4% of GDP to the Australian economy and 540,000 jobs by 2033. [5]

As businesses staff up online, a long tail market for specialized skills is emerging

Opening up access between businesses and freelancers everywhere is generating along tail [6] market for increasingly specialised skills.

As work roles shift from primarily routine to more specialised this increasingly “long tail” job market trend is highly evident on oDesk – logical given the ability to find specialists online for specific project needs on-demand. While just 4 skills represented 90% of spend on oDesk in 2007, 35 skills represented 90% of spend in 2012, with another 41 skills growing quickly. A visualization of the long tail of skills on oDesk is available here and more details on it are here.

In Australia, many top skills on oDesk are technology related (web programming, web design and client-server applications), but as the popularity of online work grows, oDesk has seen increased demand for people with non-technical skills such as writers, graphic designers and personal assistants.

Additional resources

  • Global materials for this announcement are available here.
  • For more information on online work in general, please also visit The oDesk Client Resource Center, launching today. The Resource Center includes:
  • A new ebook with guidance from businesses hiring online workers
  • Videos of oDesk clients sharing their personal best practices
  • A general online work FAQ

About oDesk

oDesk (www.oDesk.com) is the world’s largest online workplace, enabling businesses and freelancers to work together ondemand via the Internet.

By using technology to remove the barriers of traditional hiring, oDesk’s platform aligns businesses’ talent needs with freelancers’ desire to work when and where they want, on projects of their choosing. More than 35 million hours were worked on oDesk in 2012.

oDesk is a registered trademark of oDesk Corporation. Other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Media contacts:

Cristina Whittington                                                                      Caroline Shawyer

The PR Group                                                                                  The PR Group

E: cristina@prgroup.com.au                                                            E: caroline@prgroup.com.au

M: +61 (0)481 353 692                                                                   M: + 61 (0)401 496 334


[1] Staffing Industry Analysts, March 2013

[2] Based on ABS Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits, Jun 2008 to Jun 2012

[3] A June 2012 study by the Economist Intelligence Unit

[4] oDesk 2012 Online Work Study

[5] The Startup Economy Report, April 2012

[6] Wikipedia “Long tail” entry, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_tail

Media Contacts

Cristina Whittington

Senior Account Manager

+61 (0) 481 353 692

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