Marc Benioff, Ashton Kutcher, and even Michael Jordan poured millions into a startup that helps programmers make Google money from home

  • Gigster cofounders Debo Olaosebikan Roger DickeyGigsterGigster cofounders Debo Olaosebikan (left) and Roger Dickey.

    Gigster is a Silicon Valley startup that connects companies to freelance software developers, designers, and project managers for on-demand project work.

  • The startup just received $US20 million in new funding from investors including Redpoint Ventures, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, and basketball legend Michael Jordan.
  • Gigster’s next move is to attract more large enterprise customers

If you’re a software programmer who wants to command a Silicon Valley salary, you typically need to live in or near Silicon Valley.

Gigster wants to change that.

The four-year-old Silicon Valley startup pairs companies in need of software developers with freelance programmers from around the world who are looking for work.

For companies large and small, Gigster offers a way hire a freelance software development team all at once. For tech workers, the company’s service helps them find well-paid work on a variety of projects across a range of esoteric fields.

Gigster already counts eBay and IBM among its customers, but it’s aiming to lure in other big companies and connect them with its pool of freelancers. It now has a bunch of new funding to help it reach that goal.

On Tuesday, Gigster is announcing that it has received $US20 million in a new round of financing. The round was led by Redpoint Ventures, with participation from existing investors Y Combinator, Andreessen Horowitz, and Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Capital.

The company also attracted two new investors — Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and basketball legend Michael Jordan. For Jordan, the investment is one of the first he’s made in tech.

Marc BenioffPhoto by Kimberly White/Getty Images for FortuneSalesforce CEO Marc Benioff is one of Gigster’s new investors.

The company plans to use the money to fund sales, marketing, and other efforts aimed at convincing big companies to use Gigster. As part of that effort, the company plans to add about 100 employees to its 60-person staff over the next year.

Gigster CEO Roger Dickey told Business Insider that the company grades itself on the percentage of the thousand or so tech workers on its marketplace who are making a full-time living from work they get through the site. Right now, the proportion is somewhere between 20% and 30%. The company is aiming to get that above 30% by the end of the year and 50% by the end of next year.

Gigster’s goal is to offer developers what Dickey calls “the employee experience.” The company wants the experience of being a freelancer who gets work through Gigster to be “as good or better” than being an employee “somewhere like Google” — but with the added benefits of being able to set your own schedule and work from wherever you are, anywhere in the world, he said.

A marketplace for developers

When Gigster was founded, it was intended to be a place where anybody with an idea could find and hire a professional software development team that could see a project through to its completion.

The site categorizes freelancers based on the jobs they do, such as programming, product management and design. Among the freelancers on its site, Gigster lists people who worked at Google, NASA, and SpaceX. When a customer comes to the site seeking freelancers for a particular project, Gigster will suggest an ad-hoc team comprised of people with various skills, taking into account the scope of the project or the customer’s needs.

“We put a developer team in everyone’s pocket,” Dickey said. “What they do with it is up to them.”

Over the last year or so, though, Gigster has turned its attention specifically towards the business market. More than 40 businesses use the site to outsource at least some of their software work.

Michael JordanElsa/GettyMichael Jordan made one of his first tech investment when he joined Gigster’s latest funding round.

Gigster has found a sweet spot in providing experts in fields like machine learning and the blockchain, where talent is hard to come by — and so too are full-time jobs, Dickey said. Many companies don’t have enough blockchain-related work to justify hiring a full-time employee, so being able to tap into the talent available on Gigster is handy, he said.

For developers, Gigster handles much of the hard work of being a freelancer. Most importantly, the site handles the part about getting the client to pay up.

“We just want to write code and get paid,” Dickey said.

If the company achieves its goal of luring in bigger companies, Gigster will be able to pay its freelancers even more money — and potentially create something of a virtuous cycle.

“We can attract the best freelance developers in the world,” Dickey said.

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