Upwork Inc Top freelancing stock in the Russell 2000

Upwork is a top freelancing site listed under the Russell 2000. In this post, we shall explore the financial and non-financial aspects of the company.

Elance-oDesk’s Upwork is an American-based platform dedicated to freelancers. It helps create a connection between individuals and enterprises for business conduction.

Listed under Nasdaq with the ticker UPWK, this small-cap company’s stock is also a part of the Russell 2000 index. This article will take an overall view of the company, including its financial state and its future. 

This article will look at a general overview, history, and operation of Upwork. It will go on to explore the size scope and improvements which Upwork has made over the years.

Then we will move on to the managing abilities of the CEO of Upwork, Hayden. Take a look at her life and leadership journey; we will also explore her effects on Upwork’s growth.

Upwork inc small cap stock

Finally, we will round off by giving a verdict on the future of Upwork from where it stands at present. With the hope of understanding if the company’s stock is a wise choice to make as an investor.

History of Upwork Inc

Upwork Inc. (formerly Elance-oDesk) was created from two companies, Elance and oDesk, in a two-bedroom apartment located in Jersey.

It was primarily driven by Beerud Sheth, a graduate of MIT, and Srini Anumolu, a Wall Street veteran. Twenty-two employees of the company were relocated to Sunnyvale in California in December 1999. Upwork was Elance’s Small Business Marketplace and the first-ever product.

oDesk came into existence in 2003 through duo friends, Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratus Karamanlakis. This duo had the intention of working together even when one of them was not there. (U.S. and Greece).

founder of upwork odysseas tsatalos
Odysseas Tsatalos – Image source:

Initially discovered as a staff of staff, oDesk gradually became built into a marketplace that enables users registered to search, hire and team with remote workers. There was a merger announcement of Elance and oDesk on the 18th of December 2013, which birthed Elance-oDesk

After this announcement, this newly merged company rebranded as Upwork, which happened simultaneously with the oDesk platform upgrade under the same name. Upwork Inc. now became a community operating online.

Being a marketplace of skills, it allowed businesses (clients) looking for services with different experts (known as freelancers) that are not dependent on a corporate firm, including agencies, to aid their business. The platform works majorly for those in the US, England, Canada, and Australia. However, it is also open to people throughout the world.

There was also a plan to phase-out the Elance platform by Upwork within a few years. There has been a brief “down” of Upwork due to this. Over the years, the platform has had its challenges, but the greatest of which took place in September 2015.

This saw the CEO of the world’s largest freelancing company, Stephane Kasriel, tenderly apologized. Upwork was among the listed companies on the inc. 5000 for five years (2009-2014) while being filed for an initial public offering on the 10th month of 2018. It is now a Nasdaq stock and listed in the Russell 2000

Upwork Inc – How it works

The world’s largest freelancing company, through its platform, enables its clients to conduct interviews, employ, and work with freelancers. The client posts their job with a detailed description of how they want it done on the platform.

This is coupled with the range of price they are willing to pay for any freelancer services for its completion. Depending on the client’s choice, they may choose to have specific freelancers invited to take up the job. Otherwise, they may also decide to make it an open position for all freelancers willing to apply. 

After this, many freelancers submit a proposal which the clients will check and approve. Upwork also allows clients to contact freelancers through chat to inquire about them or ask them specific questions.

many freelancers submit a proposal which the clients will check and approve

Once the clients succeed in getting a competent freelancer, they are hired by ensuring a contract is sent within particular hours. This would most likely include the deadline for the completion of the work. 

For a client to have these actions performed, he must have been registered and signed-in on the platform to view every freelancer ready to take up tasks. Upwork also allows freelancers to view ratings and descriptions of clients’ jobs requiring their services to be hired, including clearing the earned money after two weeks. 

Options are provided for contracts of both hourly and set-prices by Upwork. There are auto and manual tracking of time coupled with a list of to-do available on the Upwork platform. Also included is a downloadable desktop app for tracking time.

The freelancer sets this timer to ensure there is transparency in the contract. A random screenshot is taken by the desktop app while having their algorithm verify the work. So whether the freelancer undertakes a task or not, its legitimacy stands.

Services and operations

Upwork provides access to skills, talents, and expertise with about 8,000 skills over approximately seventy categories. These categories include mobile development, data science, and lots more.

Upwork grants various functionalities access for being engaged remotely with freelancers. This consists of communication and teaming together, tracking time, invoicing, and how freelancers are paid. The offerings of Upwork as a community of talents include;

  • Upwork payroll
  • Upwork basic
  • Upwork Businesses
  • Upwork plus
  • Upwork enterprise and
  • Services of Internet escrow agencies managed.

Upwork was originally for small scale and medium scale businesses seeking skills and services. However, today the platform answers all scales, students, personal issues, and more casual needs. Apart from that, Upwork allows clients to get the flow of work streamlined, such as searching for talents and skills, contracting, and outreach.

The freelancing company boasts over 18 million registered members. This is also while boasting of over five million registered clients as well. Upwork has lots of jobs posted on its platform, worth more than $1 billion every year. That alone makes it the most sought-after and largest freelancing company in the entire globe.

Size and Improvements

There was a report of 14 million users of the Upwork platform in March 2017. These users are from 180 countries with $1 Billion in every year billings of the freelancer.

Early in 2020, Upwork purged 1.8 million freelancers, probably some of the positive changes since the emergence of the company’s new CEO, Hayden Brown. According to a call held with investors last year, Brown made it known that the company could be concentrating more on providing services for the needs of fortune 500 companies.

leading reason for doing freelance work in the united states in

Instead of companies that are not large or those not seeking an instant job with a single-gig worker. 

While this call was going on, the CEO talked about the “skill gap” between what companies were on the platform’s lookout and what they received.

Many freelancers who were purged were regarded as not having enough skills, or their rankings are low on Upwork. This platform is now the most perfect for freelancers. Under the leadership of Hayden Brown, there were also other changes, which include 

  • The adoption of paid client’s rate of subscription.
  • A 2.75 per cent to 3 per cent increase in the payment of client’s fees. 
  • An increase in the initial price of “connects” (connects are required and used by freelancers to submit job proposals). 

According to the new Upwork CEO, these effected changes were done to improve freelancing and freelancers who use the platform.

However, it will lead to more financial incomes for Upwork as a whole, including those that invest in it.

Upwork President and CEO-About Hayden Brown

The CEO and President of the world’s leading freelancing company, Upwork, is Hayden Brown. Lots of leadership roles have been held by Brown before becoming the CEO of Upwork in January of the year 2020.

Some of these roles held include product and marketing. Since joining the Upwork team in 2011, Hayden is a bold leader who has a mission to create more economic opportunities to better and improve the public’s lives.

Hayden Brown had developed this passion right from her childhood days, living in Kathmandu, Nepal. 

Hayden is dedicated to building a well-performing business that is highly sustainable, which helps to deliver that mission even in more extensive ways. Before Hayden’s ascension to CEO, she was the chief marketing and product officer.

upwork connect business with generation

While heading this role, she was responsible for leading the platform’s offerings to attract and service sophisticated buyers of business that can significantly benefit from the platform’s pool of skills worldwide. 

Before she became part of Upwork’s team, she was the leader of corporate development from LivePerson, while Hayden also held the roles of strategy and corporate development at Microsoft.

Hayden started her career at McKinsey and Company as an analyst after earning an A.B. in politics from Princeton University. Hayden has been named among the Staffing of Industry Analysts’ “40 under 40”. She was also named among the Global Power 150-Women in Staffing. Hayden has two children from her marriage.

Controversies and The future of Upwork

The world’s largest freelancing company is in a challenging position for sustaining its market power. At the moment, the platform receives about 5 per cent to 20 per cent of the amount that is billed for each client. This may seem too much to sustain some of these freelancers when the job is complete.

As a result of curbing the covid-19, work from home has witnessed many people choosing this job type as a passive means of income. 

People may not want to get attracted to Upwork due to the charges based on a certain percentage of freelancers’ work. Since new entrants choose work from home daily, they may prefer to sign up on other platforms with a better pricing option.

With the economic rise of the gig, work from home has already taken up to 40 percent of the American job, including online remote work, an increasing homing will be experienced.

work from home percent freelance

There has been a promising trajectory being yielded by the world’s largest and earliest player in freelancing. The following can help leverage Upwork in the aspect of getting users scaled and sustained on its network.

  • Experience and data in the market of Upwork
  • The experience of users improvement
  • They are getting users to understand the recommendations, more considerable innovation leverage A.I. for the generation of matches.  

The network of Upwork can also get strengthened via specific discounts, including bonuses that are meant for clients who attract a new user to the platform. As of now, Upwork allows freelancers and clients to search for jobs through its search directory.

This includes a real-time feature that helps both the client and the freelancer with the messaging of prospects. Upwork’s chat feature reduces the time required for finding, vetting, and hiring freelancers.

There is also a feature that allows talent search, which provides access to candidates who have an additional request for special recruitments. These features set the company on a higher standard than others. As a result, Upwork’s stock is expected to grow more as many people join the platform every day.


Being the pioneer and largest freelancing company globally, this company is expected to rise more in the coming years as remote works are becoming the choice for people to have passive income due to covid-19.

As a company, Upwork has a promising future ahead of it, but it is fast having competitors and will certainly need to upgrade its standards to keep thriving at the top.

From their growth, management, improvements, the company and its stocks are fast becoming a must-have for investors. In the past, Upwork was not a very profitable company for investors seeing that they were more interested in growth than making a profit.

However, with the new management, proposed improvements, and rise in freelancing jobs, the company and its stocks are certainly on a financially profitable path.


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