Californian freelance job listing sites Elance and oDesk have merged after about three months of discussions.
The combined company will be led by Elance CEO Fabio Rosati, with oDesk CEO Gary Stuart acting as a ‘strategic advisor’. The merger is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close within four months, after which a new name will be announced.
News of the merger comes just a month after Freelancer.com’s high-profile listing on the ASX, which valued it as a billion-dollar company.
Rosati and Swart are understood to have known each other for years; the company said the merger discussion was unrelated to any other company’s actions.
An analysis by Sydney-based Staff.com co-founder Rob Rawson last month put oDesk’s 2012 revenue at $US44 million, compared to $US20 million for Elance and $A10.6 million ($US9.4 million) for Freelancer.com.
Neither oDesk nor Freelancer would provide global market share estimates, but Rawson’s figures put the US sites’ combined revenue at almost seven times that of Freelancer.com, and estimated Freelancer’s market share to be 5% of an overall $1 billion.
Earlier this year, Freelancer.com told Business Insider Australia that its Australian freelancers earned $383,742 in 2012, while local businesses – including Macquarie Bank – spent $4.6 million.
Australian freelancers on oDesk earned more than $US1.75 million in 2012, while local businesses spent about $US32 million.
According to a statement from oDesk today, combining with Elance will give the merged company a global community of more than 8 million freelancers and 2 billion businesses in more than 180 countries, with $750 million in billings in 2013.
A Freelancer.com spokesperson said it had more than 9.6 million users who had posted more than 5.2 million projects to date. “We do not believe the proposed merger will have any material impact on our company,” she said.
Freelancer shares are up 7.69% so far today at $1.40, which is almost three times its IPO offer price of $0.50 but far below its November 15 opening price of $2.50.
“It is still really, really early days for the global online services industry, with much of the developing world population yet to connect to the internet, which will dramatically increase the global online labour supply,” Freelancer’s spokesperson said.
“Our dedication to the developing world and our current position globally means Freelancer remains uniquely placed to capitalise on this global trend towards online outsourced services.”
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