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Freelance Marketplace Elance-oDesk Raises $30 Million, Says IPO Is Next

The companies have 13 million workers and $900 million in 2014 billings.

Shutterstock / Ryabitskaya Elena

Elance-oDesk has raised $30 million in funding, led by existing investor Benchmark along with T. Rowe Price, FirstMark, Sigma West, NEA and the Stripes Group.

Formerly long-time competitors, the two online freelance companies Elance and oDesk merged last December. At the time the companies said it had a combined 10 million workers with $750 million in 2013 billings.

Now, they have 13 million workers and $900 million in 2014 billings, while continuing to operate as separate sites.

Elance-oDesk is a marketplace for people to post freelance jobs for remote work like coding, design and transcription. Employers can use the system to select from bidders to arrange and pay for the jobs.

“Online work is inevitable,” said Elance-oDesk CEO Fabio Rosati. “But today it’s a tiny fraction of all work. Imagine, only 2 to 3 percent of work happens online.”

Rosati declined to comment on profitability, but said Elance-oDesk is looking to expand to new categories like the enterprise. Today, 80 percent of the work the company facilitates is in technology and marketing. Rosati also said the funding would fuel development of job-worker matching smarts and collaboration tools.

Benchmark partner Kevin Harvey described the round as the last bit of private support before taking Elance-oDesk to the public markets.

“With the companies now merged, the next step is to prepare for an IPO, and we think this financing gets us to that point,” Harvey said. “The company has the financials to be a public company.”

That’s not to say their paths to this point have been straightforward. Elance was founded way back in 1999, and oDesk in 2003. Before combining forces, oDesk had raised $44 million in venture capital, while Elance had raised about double that.

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