Online Jobs Marketplace Freelancer.com Moves Into Home And Local Services – TechCrunch
Make way for another company trying to build a local and private services business. Following in the footsteps of Amazon and Google in its race for Angie’s List, TaskRabbit, Thumbtack and Handy, Freelancer.com is launching a marketplace for local plumbers, cleaners, cooks, couriers and others to offer their services on demand, initially in its environment Home market of Australia before expanding globally this quarter.
Matt Barrie, CEO of Freelancer.com, describes the new local services business as “Uber for local jobs”. Those looking for someone for an offline job can use their location to find relevant and available people around the Freelancer.com website or mobile app.
The new services will be alongside the existing business of Freelancer, a platform that connects freelancers with those looking to hire employees to work online, and compete against companies like Elance-Odesk. The company has attracted 15 million registered users in 73,000 cities, with 2 million people bidding for jobs at any given time, Barrie says.
Barrie said Freelancer.com had considered moving to local services for years, but the company “held back because the company lacked global liquidity”. By that he means that Freelancer.com didn’t think they had enough coverage to make it a profitable business. “Although the market for local services is ten times larger than that for online work, the average job size is smaller,” he says. The average TaskRabbit job is $ 100, while Barrie says that a Freelancer.com site costs an average of $ 200.
Barrie says that while Freelancer.com has done some recruiting, it is not working with other vendors to expand its network (this is a path Amazon has taken with its home services, for example).
Instead, the company is taking a different approach. Barrie believes the company has grown large enough on its online network for this workforce to populate the local service business. In other words, many of the same people who are networked to work online can transfer their skills offline. It could be a photographer or designer who can attend an event and take a picture of it, or something less obvious, like a copywriter attending a party or delivering a package in his spare time.
“We have a lot of coverage so we thought it would be a great time to continue,” he says.
It remains to be seen whether a workforce of online freelancers can be transferred to a selection of offline jobs. In the meantime, Freelancer.com has made 17 acquisitions to date, most of which were made to expand its online job market. However, Barrie says the company has no plans to go down the same path to grow its local employment business.
Offline jobs encourage online business
Barrie estimates that the market opportunity for using an efficient online platform to find employees for offline jobs is enormous – in the US alone it is 100 billion US dollars.
The rush to provide a platform for local services also plays a bigger role in on-demand products, where cars, groceries, prepared groceries, clean laundry, doctors and everything else are brought to you with the tap of a smartphone app ( or maybe soon with a quick voice command).
However, the opportunity to fill one-off jobs in your area is great and does not yet belong to any company. This is partly why so many different types of businesses are trying to play a role here: There are many benefits to having a healthy online marketplace for offline jobs.
Just as Freelancer.com sees this as a way to give its freelancers another way to fill their hours and make money, others also see benefits in expanding into local services.
For Amazon, this could help complement buying products on its e-commerce platform. It could be for Google to open up the advertising platform to more small businesses that would use such a service to promote their services. Ebay has also looked into local services to complement the goods sold online.
There are also more established services that focus exclusively on the local service market. Angie’s List and the many startups like Handy, Thumbtack and TaskRabbit that also offer platforms for those looking to connect with locals for jobs and for people who want to fulfill those requests.
All of this is a sign of both the market growth and the competitiveness of Freelancer.com. Even with online jobs, it is not always a given that the opportunity is a sure sign of success. Experience the online utilities for Google’s online training / service business, which happens to be closing tomorrow after Google stated that it has not “grown at the pace we expected”.
What the Australian company is aiming for as a differentiator is its global reach for online jobs today. Compared to many of these other companies that work either exclusively or primarily in the US, there are people from Kenya, the Philippines and many other places who are both looking for workers and answering work inquiries on the platform. While half of the jobs on Freelancer.com today come from the US, another 12% come from India and 10% from the UK and 5% from Canada and another 5% from Australia. India is currently the number one market in terms of fulfilling job requests.
Freelancer.com uses the same commission structure for its local services that it has set up for its online jobs: 10% of all transactions go to Freelancer.com. This helped the company, which went public in 2013 and currently has a market capitalization of nearly $ 400 million, had sales of $ 26.7 million ($ 20.4 million) in 2014, up by 39% compared to 2013.