oDesk Becomes Upwork, But What About Elance?

ODesk becomes Upwork

Over a year ago, two of the biggest freelance marketplaces, oDesk and Elance, announced they would be merging into one. Since then, they have operated as separate platforms.

Today the new company announced a relaunch under the name Upwork with a new platform by the same name.

“The new Upwork platform combines the best of both Elance and oDesk, plus adds innovation. It is the platform innovation will happen on moving forward, and is based on the former oDesk platform,” company spokesperson Christina Schultz told Small Business Trends.

But the question is how the new community will differ and what will become of Elance.com.

For now, Elance.com will operate as a stand alone site owned by Upwork. Schultz said the move was prompted by a desire to preserve continuity for Elance.com users and give them a chance to acclimate.

However, with the offering of a “one way bridge” to make it easier for Elance.com users to transfer their accounts to Upwork, it’s clear the company would prefer they make the move.

“Within a year or two we will be moving towards a single platform, and that platform is Upwork,” Schultz explained.

In fact, in recent years, there has been little difference between the two sites except for a small difference in fees and a few features.

So the idea of finally unifying the two communities on one site — in this case on the newly rebranded Upwork — made logical sense.

“One of the reasons we decided to merge the two companies is that we were quite similar in features and in our vision,” Schultz added in a telephone interview.

Innovation focused on the newly rebranded Upwork site provides an added incentive for Elance.com members to consider migrating their accounts.

And some of that innovation has already been introduced.

Here are three new features Upwork already offers on its new platform :

  • A new group collaboration feature free for anyone to use, even those who aren’t Upwork customers, lets you communicate and share documents. Integration of tools like GitHub, Google Drive, and Jira should be available this year.
  • An enhanced matching algorithm will improve the site’s abilities to make business connections. “We’ve always had a matching component but this is better at matching up the best freelancers for a particular job,” Schultz said.
  • A new status feature will let freelancers post their availability on the site with designations like “Right away,” “Later” or “Not looking.”

The company has not set an exact time when Elance.com will be shut down. The hope is to get Elance.com customers to switch to Upwork before that time comes.

Image: Upwork


Shawn Hessinger Shawn Hessinger is the Executive Editor for Small Business Trends and a professional journalist with more than 20 years experience in traditional and digital media for trade publications and news sites. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has served as a beat reporter, columnist, editorial writer, bureau chief and managing editor for the Berks Mont Newspapers.

50 Reactions
  1. As a freelancer, it is not that good to know that a website will only last a couple of years. That means that it is not worth investing my time in it.

    • We’ve started up a petition against Elance moving to Upwork.

      Sign it here: bit.ly/1f2sRPA

      • I want to sign the petition, but I’m someone who missed the boat on ever registering for Elance.

        Now Elance won’t let me get an account, I just had to get an Upwork account instead. My problem is, the same jobs are on Elance and Upwork, and on Elance I’m seeing all these people making thousands and “proposal sealed,” they are getting my jobs and I haven’t gotten anything yet despite sending 40+ proposals.

        So I can only guess that the same jobs “show up” on Elance and Upwork, but the client is only looking at Elance.

        (For example, one job I just looked at had 8 “proposal sealed” on Elance and only 1 hire on Upwork.)

        Has anyone else noticed this, that people are getting more work on Elance than Upwork? If I signed that petition, I’m worried I’d be supporting something that keeps all the clients at Elance without allowing new users to sign up to Elance!

        So basically I’m stuck on Upwork seeing how many people are getting hired on Elance…and the people who are on Elance are old, veteran users for whom the cash just keeps rolling in.

        This whole thing reeks, honestly. The people who missed the boat on Elance and got forced to go to Upwork, when clients are sticking with Elance, are really getting the shaft.

  2. Very interesting. I’ve been wondering what was going to happen to Elance. It will be interesting to see how Upwork will continue to differentiate itself from what it used to be. These new changes seem promising.

    • “These new changes seem promising.”

      No, they don’t. They seem abysmal. As an active worker on Elance I see no benefits at all in moving to Upwork. All I get in exchange for higher fees and unnecessary delays in being able to withdraw my earnings is access to oDesk’s client pool. You know, the cheapskate clients I moved to Elance to get away from.

      • Lol!!

        I have to agree with you. With a few exceptions, the clients on oDesk do seem to want to get something for nothing, and unfortunately they get away with it due to the Freelancers in the East.

      • Speaking as a client, and one who uses both platforms, I can say that:

        (1) Both Elance and Upwork can be lifesavers when you need help in your business. If you need short term or project workers, or aren’t ready to hire an employee yet, these have become essential platforms for us.

        (2) Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages for clients. But you deal with the limitations, because the alternatives (trying to recruit people onesy-twosy on your own) are far far more challenging than any quirks of either platform.

        (3) There are just as many challenges that clients have with workers, as workers have with clients. I am not a cheapskate client, but I expect quality. I’ve had more than my share (dozens and dozens) of people who submit slipshod test work, or don’t meet deadlines, or simply don’t have the skills they claim to have. Example: I am hiring for writers, and people submit a sample article with 10 or 12 typos in a 500 word article — most of which could have been caught simply by using a spellchecker. If that’s how little care they take with a “test” article (which I pay for), do you think that person would magically get better for the full project? “By the work, one knows the workman.”

        And I could go on, but I won’t, with all the issues we’ve run into. The reason I won’t go on, is that among all the things we’ve had to wade through, we’ve also found some FABULOUS talent through both platforms.

        My point is this. No tool is perfect, but the platforms make a challenging task much much easier for both clients and freelancer workers to find each other. And instead of focusing on all the challenges and all the poor fits we’ve waded through, I prefer to focus on the great hires we’ve made. (I’m a glass half full person, as you can tell.)

        Because we’ve found some great talent, I am grateful.

        – Anita

      • i agree. I hate the fact that it takes 6 days for Upwork to release funds compared to Elance. Plus, you can’t trust most clients at Upwork. While it is true that there are US clients at Upwork, some of those are really Indians who are pretending to be from the US.

      • I totally agree. I’m still on Elance, but uploaded to UpWork Aug 1. I write business plans. All I see are: 1) Low ball prices; 2) Lookie Lous. Just like you I moved to Elance to get away from that. I wonder if the corporate strategy is to have us Elancers do the heavy lifting to upgrade the level of services and pricing for them that UpWork inherited from Odesk. Seems that way to me. But the problem is – we’ll be broke by the time that happens. And most of us are already looking for exits and alternatives.

  3. Odesk is replaced with upwork but the job success ratting error of odesk is still not fixed. One cannot win a job if his/her success rate is below 90% & it is, in most of the cases is lower than 90%.

    • This merge has already been abysmal. I used to work on both platforms and since the merge, the new features have created a headache for me and when I contact customer service, I get a cookie cutter reply for a completely unrelated problem.

      My main issue is the job success rating error. It says mine is 62%, but I’ve completed every contract I’ve had with a 4.5 rating or higher. Now it’s impossible for me win a contract when I’ve produced quality work in technical fields…

    • I agree. I have complained about the job rating system – you just need to look at your stats and compare them to your success rating to see that there is something terribly wrong in the code!

  4. Elance was full of fake jobs and cons. Odesk at least worked. Now I see odesk full of fake jobs and cons. The Aussy criminals running Elance belong in jail. Now odesk is dead and a joke too. When it became Uptime suddenly there were a lot of real good looking jobs…all fake…just like Escam.

    Vworker was great until odesk killed it. Elance has always been a huge scam. Now Odesk/upyourwork has killed it fully. ‘Elance/upyourbakside for no work’ is run by an Aussy criminal entertprise and the biggesty capitalist scum on earth.. It is a scam and a ripoff!

    • Strange how each person has as different perspective of the two platforms.

      I also have used both and never had a single problem on Elance. On oDesk someone has attempted to hack my account twice. and because of my trusting nature on 3 occasions I have done work and failed to be paid for it.

      Since changing from oDesk to UpWork I have noted a decline in the quality of jobs on offer. In fact I would go as far as saying I am considering only looking for future work on Elance because of this apparent decline.

      When using the Internet and social media platforms, it pays to do some research before jumping in the deep end. If a client is new to the platform and does not have a “Verified Payment Method” then you need to be wary.

      Also you will find many clients who have posted jobs frequently, and interviewed stacks of Freelancers but have never hired any. These are the clients who just use the platform to recruit staff and employ outside of the platform. This is often at a lower rate, and you leave yourself open to not being paid if you agree to work outside of the platform.

      ps I take it your are not an Aussie fan?

    • “The Aussy criminals running Elance belong in jail.”

      The scam site run by Australians is Freelancer.com, not Elance.

  5. I certainly hope that Odesk doesn’t bring the abominable “customer service” staff from Elance. They are the worst I have ever dealt with. Do yourself a favor, Odesk, fire ALL of them.

  6. I hope they don’t get rid of elance. I find elance way better than odesk ever was. I guess it all depends on your experience. I find there are 10x more well-priced projects on elance, where as upworks and odesk the prices are so low, it isn’t worth it.

  7. Well…to start, whoever that is quoted as saying Elance would be around for a “couple of years” flat out lied. They sent an email to Freelancers yesterday detailing how “early 2016” is most likely the longest you can keep working with clients that originated there. They are about to stop accepting jobs postings from buyers, etc.

    Anyone that thinks ODesk is better than Elance in any way is either not used to better paying job or is looking for cheap labor. Period. I never understood who US based businesses think will be able to afford what they have to offer when they outsource good jobs to people that accept $1 per hour compensation…Surely it will not be the people you put out of work that need at least a living wage right? And when you have to resort to hiring “employees” again, all the overhead will not be pretty.

    I get that there are fundamentally different things the two sides want; freelancers need to eat and business owners want to save money, but I do not believe this is the way to go for the future.

  8. I hate that Elance is closing out! As a buyer, I really like the platform and I’ve been accustomed to how everything works. Upwork is not laid out anywhere as nice. Really a shame.

  9. How can some decide to close a platform like Elance? If I have 2 running portal, what’s the point in merging them. Why not let them run without pampering? oDesk was never near Elance.com and the quality of projects and clients on Elance are far better than any other freelance portal. Why it needs to kill Elance to make Upwork (rechristening of oDesk) grow? Will it ever grow after the blunder? Is it only to show that the top management of the merged company is working? It do not make much difference to new freelancers, but what about the established providers who had put in their hard work for years to build their reputation, portfolio, milestones, client relationship. Can Upwork acknowledge them and migrate those invaluable of providers? Will clients feel same familiarity in Upwork like Elance, no way. Upwork is more oDesk and way different from Elance. This is the biggest blunder in happening, if they are closing out Elance. There is no brain behind this thought. Somehow, these morons are working full-time to kill Elance and also unconsciously nailing their own coffin. I feel the merger of oDesk and Elance should never had happened.

    • True. And if you notice – they’ve even branded UpWork as “an Odesk company.” Right under the logo. So there you go. Kiss Elance bye-bye.

  10. I don’t want at all to move to upwork. Elance is much more better that upwork.
    I’m wondering if we, the Elancers, can do anything on order to prevent this situation.

  11. I have been a modestly successful elance provider for several years. I find the closing of elance fairly inexplicable. From a provider point of few, I found it to be the best freelance site available by a good margin. I investigated odesk and never got any jobs there and their platform was inferior to elance in any way that mattered to me. Upwork is really just a renaming, and it will never get my business.

    A big void will open up once elance closes, the better clients and the better providers will be in search of one another, but not on upwork. So sometime soon be on the lookout for the successor platform, hopefully it will incorporate many of the ideas that made elance work, particularly simplicity, while leaving out all the poor decision making seen over the last few years. (IMHO, elance used to be better than it is now)

  12. I am also against merging. Upwork=Odesk and I tried to work on Odesk and my income there was about 5% of what I was able to make on Elance. I am working now for 4 years as a full time Elancer and if this really happens I wonder will it work.

    Based on my experience this is terrible move for all hard working freelancers on Elance and I dont see the point of working again on odesk since 90% of freelancers who are on Elance,move away from Odesk since it was 1$ project based and there was no way you would make any decent money.


  13. This is not good to hear. I have been successful on Elance for over five years. One Client preferred oDesk for his mobile device, so we started using oDesk. Occasionally, I got emails from requests on oDesk, but they never led to anything productive. These all seemed to be “fake” offers from people just ‘tire-kicking’ to see what they MIGHT be able to find.In my opinion, oDesk has always strived to be Elance, but couldn’t. So now, Elance has been bought out by oDesk – I mean ‘Upwork’?!?! I never liked the way I had to wait two weeks for the first payment for a job on the inferior platform, I hope they have changed this policy.

  14. This is a disaster. First off, there’s the 10 percent fee. With many clients trying to get the lowest rate possible, freelancers will now be working for peanuts. Second, Upwork has horrific tech support. I received an invitation to import my Elance profile to Upwork. Now when I try to log in to Upwork, I get a completely blank page. Every tech support person claims they have fixed the problem. They have not.

  15. I am a long-time freelancer. Elance is an oppressive place that abuses the workers. It is not a wonder since the founder has ties to fraud. You can search on Fraud and Elance Founder to see the articles. This type of abuse filters down. If you are a freelancer, you understand what I mean. Upwork is even worse. Look at the nightmare it is to move over there. If you have any type of company profile on Elance, they will strip that away. They basically want you to start on upwork with no history so your prices are lower. It is a wonder no one has gone into Elance and done some type of workpace violence with all the hatred they force on the workers. I would not be surprised to see something like that. It is a horrible oppressive place and Upwork looks worse.

    • Hi Gary, Not sure the basis for your claim that Elance allegedly “abuses its workers”. That’s a strong accusation to make.

      As far as the founder, that’s 14 year old news. I don’t even know whether that founder is still around and involved in Elance. That was from 2001 — and it is now 2015. Seems to me a lot of water can flow under the bridge in 14 years.

      I’ve mostly had good experiences with both Elance and Upwork when hiring freelancers, as I have with some other freelancer platforms. Each platform has its quirks, and each has things it is better at compared with others. One thing I will say for them all: they sure beat the alternative of trying to find freelance help onesy twosy.

      – Anita

  16. I can see upwork has new features than odesk.But anyhow as a freelancer i like to mention odesk mostly care on clients than the freelancers.Because i had an Odesk account with 20 jobs completed.19 of them are 5 star feedback.But 1 job was a low feedback one.The client was rude and so i stopped the job and i informed to client as well.And i returned the payment as well.But i think the client has complained about me to odesk.So suddenly the suspend my account.That’s it.It’s so disgusting.I dunno still they do the same waya.Anyway after that incident i stopped working on Odesk.But still i’m wokring with the clients who i got to know through odesk.But i’m working directly with them.So easy!!

  17. How can we come to know that respective project is award to receptive freelancer in UPWORK.

    Like in Elance there is awarded Symbol .

    What is in UPWORK???

    suggest plz

  18. mat_smith@live.com.au

    Absolute disaster, to go from $20 pus per hour jobs on Elance to $2 pe hour jobs on what is essentially an upgraded Odesk. I freelanced on Odesk for 2 years and had non-stop problems including Odesk being unable to pay me and then when I complained they refused to pay me and then when i commenced legal action against them for my funds held in my account they paid me as quickly as they good and then eliminated my account. Another time a client did not pay me for work completed. The client is a well known fraudster and at the time was wanted on fraud charges in Australia his name is Kane Sherwell. When I complained to Odesk he made a counter complaint and they took his word over mine and reduced my 5 star rating to 1 star solely on the basis of his feedback, which came from him being unwilling to pay for work completed and it was a considerable amount of work. It is an ashame that Odesk the most unethical company I have ever had the misfortune of dealing with has removed Elance from the market.

    • In short, Elance has way better UI and ease of access, 8.75% fee, more award ratio, instant(compared to others) payments, Escrow protection, good clients, and good freelancers.

  19. It is a shame that Elance is the one of the 2 that are going away but I understand why. The cheap labor pool is far more appealing to buyers and therefore gets more fees in the hands of UpWork.

    It is a shame for US freelancers who are talented but cannot compete with $2 hour offshore workers. I know for a fact there are clients out there who would not use oDesk/Upwork because there were many trust issues and other barriers that turned them off. You get what you pay for.

    Someone needs to tap into that client pool and offer an alternative to the Elance audience once it goes away.

  20. The freelancers & recruiters here have different point of views. I’ve only had 1 job on Elance, which rightfully was willing to pay, & it was a great connection working through Skype w a client from Israel when I was in Florida. As I’ve begun to return to online freelancing, I remember why I left in the first place: seeing “budgets” on Elance & especially Upwork so cheap for complex creative work discourages me from online freelancing all together.

  21. I have been working on Elance for almost a year and a half, I have merged over to Upwork and been there about one month now. The difference is BIG!
    Less income, less awarding of jobs, longer wait periods for funds, and the down-time of the site, man I can’t even begin to explain, this move is the worst thing for everyone.
    Elance must stay and operate, not merge and close.
    Elance is the best site ever!!!

  22. I have had both Elance and Odesk profiles going since around April this year and I seemed to have more success at the beginning with Elance. After merging the two profiles I got equal success in winning jobs so that was kinda cool. The biggest change like many people have stated is the higher Upwork fee, the insane 6 days waiting period to approve funds and they charge you $2 a pop for each withdrawal you make to Payoneer! For some of us Payoneer is the only way to make freelancing work in our countries and we can lose a lot of our earnings from all these microfees. It seems ridiculously unfair to me Elance never charged you to withdraw money to Payoneer (which unless you also wanna pay another $2.50 can take another 3 days to clear) so you end up waiting forever for your money AND get charged 2 bucks a time to withdraw it. Seems like Upwork is much more focused on taking more slices of pie from clients and freelancers alike than Elance ever did.

  23. I have alot of projects in elance. I frequently search those jobs to find freelancers I’ve used in the past for new jobs.
    I often look through the elance message board of the job to decide if I want to use the same freelancer again. Seeing my own communications with them helps me remember my experience with them.
    I am not happy about elance going away. If all my history could be uploaded to upwork than it’s ok. By history I mean all of my communications from all of my job workroom messages. And all the job descriptions. I would like the files too.
    But if not then I would rather find an alternative like freelancer.com because I don’t want to support a company who throws away years of my work.
    I have spent almost $100,000.00 and have been a customer of elance since March 2008. I did try Odesk at one point but decided to stay with elance just because I wanted all my work and all my data in one place. It wasn’t that I had anything against Odesk just that at the time I had more data on elance so I decided to only work there.
    So now as I understand it elance / odesk / upwork plans to discard almost 10 years of my work. If they will not salvage my work – all my job details and communications, including the archived ones – because I still refer to and search the archived ones – than I will find an alternative that is not affiliated with elance-odesk-upwork – If I have to start over than I will not start over with them.

    • David,

      I agree a 100% with you. I’m finding it very hard to move to this platform for the same reason you elaborated.

    • Hello David,

      Just came across your response on this discussion. We understand your agony and same frustration lies with us. We had been a proficient Website Design and Development agency on Elance past so many years with very graceful reputation on Elance.

      For our common interest and hoping we can work together you can write back to us on indervarshneya [ at ] gmail.com OR we can get connected on Skype: inder.varshneya.

      Lets connect hoping it would be great experience workign with you.

      Best regards,

  24. Awesome feedback on this post. I tried Odesk a couple of times over the years and found it to be lacking in so many ways. Like many here I found a much better experience with Elance. Unfortunately as a Level 9 or 10 with a perfect 5 rating they’ve locked me out of my account at Elance and basically forced me over to Odesk. Big mistake. I had an issue with them a little over year ago in which I used my media pull to basically threaten to blast them on all the tech outlets (and I had kept all the screenshots, documentation and proof to do it) and I warned them that if these declining things I had noticed kept persisting then their own business model would be in jeopardy (re: their Media, PR and CEO or whoever that was I spoke with back then). And this was all before this Upwork change. 6 days and 10 days (for hourly) to get paid? Are they serious? That contradicts the very flexible and free nature of freelance. Don’t even get me started.

    Anyway, I’m all about solutions. I don’t like to complain too much, especially when there’s opportunity.

    So, I’m an entrepreneur and I’ve founded some pretty cool companies (AskEachOther.com, RewardBux.com – previously Thankville, LuxBrande.com, etc)and have some connections. If I start a crowd-funding project to build a replacement for Elance (I think me and my team can do it way better – I don’t think you could even bid from their App, so silly). Would any of you be interested in that? I’d be willing to offer stock shares, no fees for a year for crowd funders and all kinds of other awesome perks.

    My main startup now specializes in high end custom websites and we have some crazy technology and abilities within our team so I can build a replacement for Elance in under a month with all the strengths and improvements on the known issues and a way better personnel approach that protects both Buyers AND Freelancers more objectively. We’d just want community support and obviously help with the financial burden of incorporating, setting it up and development initially – then I’m pretty positive I can get investment to take it from there.

    The world is moving more towards an independent and flexible freelance market type of economy and all I see is Upwork moving away from the strengths of that. They would be easy to beat. And so many people, including all of us would benefit from a stronger, more consistent Freelance Marketplace.

    Reach out to me at my contact form on LuxBrande.com if you’re interested in starting a movement. Screw petitions. We can put our energy towards really solving the problem.

    Ken D.

  25. I have plans to start a site for those who were a part of Elance. If you are interested just give me a shout on this post. I will bookmark it and when it launches let you folks know. It’s seriously sad times.

    My goal with the site will be to have no fees except on connects. No membership fees though. And to begin with i might not have even connect fees just so we can get the ball rolling. I think its going to take a community of people to build a site.

  26. Upwork is probably the worst platform currently in terms of freelancing. I have worked on all of them and Elance is by far the best freelancing site. Quality of employers, payment, everything is so above any others. Odesk(Upwork) is a platform designed for cheap workers from Asia, Africa etc to work for 0.10$ per hour. I don’t see a big future for Upwork and I am currently working for my regular clients and have enough work. Applied to hundreds of jobs on Upwork but nothing, just got 2 replies and they asked if I can work for less. On Elance I had over 100 projects completed. Hope someone will build a new platform so that we can really work and not mess around for 0.10$ per hour.

  27. I have some balance in elance and I am not able to withdraw due to some technical hitch though my duplicate profile on upwork is fine. Will my money be transferred to my upwork account or will they just squander it?

  28. I used eLance for years and was very well satisfied with it. Now, having moved to Upwork (shouild be DOWNDOWNDOWNwork) I am at a complete loss. I posted a job for PHP and got SEO people who spoke no English. There is NO concern for geography – just push totally unqualified people who in many cases are barely literate in English as “Experts” in fields even when their own resumes show no such skill OR experience. Sadly, this is one of the worst business decisions made in the last five years. I hope the owners of eLance got paid and have headed for the woods because Upwork in its present configuration is going DOWN DOWN DOWN.

  29. I’m also work with elance more than 6 years. Also with upwork. Elance is very user friendly and comfortable work place than upwork. There are so many features available in elance than upwork. As a freelancer it’s cost also cheap thank upwork.

    I’m full time freelancer and I’m depend on elance, so I want to say don’t shout down elance keep them separate platforms. And don’t remove elance features.


    • Gautam Ramchandani

      Dear Swarni

      I’m with You, we also depend on Elance so please don’t shutdown elance and keep keep them separate platforms of Upwork and Elance.


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