Upwork

Upwork (Elance-oDesk)

A leading online employment marketplace providing businesses with freelance labor and tools to hire, manage and pay for completed work.

The Story

Elance, one of the companies that would eventually become Upwork, was formed during the first technology boom in the late 1990s to service the enterprise market’s HR software needs. They built a strong technology platform, but ultimately realized the bigger opportunity was to build a global marketplace to connect millions of freelancers across the world with millions of employers who were badly in need of talent to meet their business objectives. The company shifted its gears and began building this marketplace organically, and by late 2011 had reached an inflection point in the Company’s evolution. They had come to an exciting point in the company’s growth where they were looking for a partner that could help them achieve the full potential of the core business they had built.

Stripes originally invested in Elance at this point in the company’s evolution after conducting an exhaustive review of the outsourced work market, and concluding that Elance was poised to help shape the way work evolved in the 21st century and capture significant market share. After building a relationship with the leadership of Elance and structuring an investment, the Stripes team worked closely with the company to further strengthen the senior management team while also assisting with key initiatives such as targeted geographic expansion, strategic partnerships and M&A.

Elance steadily accelerated in growth in the ensuing years and established itself as a leading player in a rapidly evolving global market, and ultimately merged with another leading player, oDesk, in 2014 to form Upwork, the largest freelance marketplace in the world with over 4 million businesses collaborating with over 10 million freelancers across 180 countries.