Matt Barrie, an entrepreneur, launched Freelancer.com three years ago after struggling to find someone to do a simple data-entry job for him. The company has since grown to become the biggest outsourcing website in the world, helping businesses and individuals link up to get work done. Here, Mr Barrie, who is based in Sydney, talks about how outsourcing trends have changed since the global financial crisis.
What is Freelancer.com?
Quite simply, it's eBay for jobs. So just about any job you can think of now done by someone on [any] side of the world through a computer. We connect about 3.5 million people around the world in 234 countries or territories.
What impact has the global financial crisis had on the outsourcing industry?
In 2007 or 2008, the entire industry had the wind put behind its sails. One reason was that it was the right time for the business to take off, as the outsourcing trend had gone from larger businesses down to mid-tier firms. Also, small businesses were not looking to bring on full-time staff and so were more keen to look at outsourcing.
What else changed with the crisis?
There were also a lot of people in America out of work who were going online to find work, and also businesses had more time to outsource projects like website or logo design. We were able to connect them with entrepreneurs in the East who are rising up and starting businesses themselves.
What about the future?
The big macro trend we are seeing is that there are 7 billion people on the planet but there are only 2 billion people online. The top 10 media sites have over 80 per cent of their traffic is foreign. There's a huge inflection point as the rest of the world connects. The internet is moving from a very western-centric model to a much broader, widespread base. By 2020, there will be 5 billion people on the internet and that will radically change everything … We hope to benefit from that by connecting entrepreneurs.
How many users of the site do you have from the UAE?
It is growing. Out of 3.5 million people on the site, we have 20,000 in the UAE online, including 85 per cent freelancers and 15 per cent employers. There is a skills base but a lot of skills that are hard to find, maybe in the technical skills. As we get bigger, we will roll out other languages, starting with Spanish but may also look at Arabic, and localised versions of the site dedicated for certain countries.
How much money are people making through completing advertised jobs?
We have a freelancer in India making about $1 million [Dh3.6m] a year, just launching $200 websites. We have freelancers in the Philippines making $300,000 or $400,000 a year from just designing $30 logos.
* Tom Arnold
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