UpWork was founded in 2014 as a result of the merger between oDesk and Elance, and is a marketplace which offers businesses a platform where they can manage and employ remote freelancer. The company recently announced that they became publicly traded, joining the wave of startup companies which thrived as private companies and are heading toward the stock market.
The original plan was for UpWork to sell 12.27 million shares at a price ranging from $10 to $12, however, the company offers 12.30 million of its shares at a prince ranging from $12 to $14 in order to raise $160 million. It is anticipated that they will raise 18% more in proceeds. Their IPO is part of the recent wave of tech companies which are turning to the public markets in order to fund their growth. Other freelancer forums went public in a short amount of time, meaning that the contractors among the workforce continue to expand.
UpWork was valued at approximately $700 million in 2014, and they have not disclosed the company’s valuation since. According to Pitchbook, besides the capital raised, contributing investors include Benchmark Capital, FirstMark Capital, DAG Ventures, Jackson Square Venture, Stripes Group, and Globespan Capital Partners. The company has been accelerating fast, which is an important factor as to why their investors are optimistic about the company’s financial future.
UpWork’s year-over-year growth improved by 5% from 2017 through the first half of 2018, from 23% to 28%. The company’s core client growth was very high, going from 13% to 22%. In addition, their client spend retention is strong, as they are not only bringing in new clients, they are also generating more from existing ones. They earned in 2017 $5 million in free cash flow, which means that the investors don’t have to worry about liquidity.
UpWork’s Chief Executive Officer, Stephane Kasriel noted that by becoming publicly traded, the company will increase its impact. He added that they make it possible for businesses to find, work and hire freelancers, but that their mission is to create more economic opportunities in order for people to have better lives.