A bit of consolidation in the world of online IT outsourcing: Freelancer.com has bought one of its competitors, Canada’s Scriptlance, in an all-cash deal to spearhead its move into the country and expand its global footprint in other new markets. Prior to the acquisition, Scriptlance had been the fifth largest freelance marketplace in the world; adding its 360,000 users to Freelance.com now brings the total number of enterprise and professional users on the main site to 4 million.
Freelancer.com says that to date it has seen 2.3 million projects posted on its site covering areas like website design, graphic design, copywriting and SEO. But as the market for outsourcing has grown, and the economy has continued to remain tight, other skillsets have also entered the mix. These include astrophysics, aerospace engineering, biotechnology, manufacturing and industrial design.
Other financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, but in the deal Freelancer is getting not just a rival IT outsourcing company with global reach — some 600,000 projects across 244 countries, with $43 million paid out to freelancers in that time — but also some IP and customers in the area of crowdfunding.
Scriptlance’s founder and chief exec, René Trescases, developed Scriptlance’s crowdfunding platform himself — one of the world’s first, the company claims — and one recent project saw users putting money into buying equipment for a computer learning centre in India; the project, Scriptlance says, tripled its target in goal within 24 hours. Matt Barrie, the CEO of Freelancer.com tells me that this will be incorporated into Freelancer’s existing crowdfunding business — a small but healthy part of its overall revenue mix.
He also adds that Trescases is not staying on post-acquisition and is “moving on to other things.” The rest of the team – including half a dozen people in India — will join Freelancer.com.
“We are tremendously excited to acquire Scriptlance, which is truly one of the great trailblazers and most widely recognised brands in the online outsourcing industry,” said Barrie in a separate statement. “Today we launch in Canada, and we couldn’t think of a better way to announce this than by buying one of Canada’s top technology websites.”
The acquisition follows several others that Freelancer.com has made since being founded in 2009 to expand into new territories.
The web properties now owned by Freelancer.com include GetAFreelancer (Sweden); LimeExchange (United States); Freelancer.co.uk (United Kingdom); Freelancer.de Booking Center (Germany); Freelancer.com.au (Australia) and Freelancer Hong Kong (China), as well as the Freemarket.com virtual content marketplace (United States) and the Webmaster Talk (United States) forums.
Freelancer.com claims that these user numbers make it almost double the size of its closest competitor. Today people can hire out their services in some 11 currencies, with particular popularity in countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan, home to highly skilled IT workers in countries short in on-the-ground jobs.