While 2020 may be one of the most challenging years for business in recent history, some companies are emerging from the crisis smelling of roses. A little more than a year after going public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), freelancer marketplace Fiverr is launching a new platform aimed at helping larger businesses manage and collaborate around freelancer-powered projects.
The Israeli company’s shares began a rapid ascent right around the time the world went into lockdown, growing to more than $124 million today — nearly six times their value in mid-March. This also correlated with Fiverr’s vital stats, which saw its “active buyers” grow 12% from April to June, compared to a typical quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) rise that sits closer to 5%. Moreover, Fiverr’s revenue jumped 38% to $47.1 million, culminating in the company finally becoming profitable for the first time — a full year ahead of its previous estimates.
To capitalize on this growth, Fiverr is building on existing business-focused tools around “team collaboration for the future of work,” as the company puts it.
“As a company whose vision for the past 10 years was a future built around a remote and flexible workforce, today that vision has become closer than ever to reality,” Fiverr Business general manager Shira Levy Barkan told VentureBeat.
Fiverr Business was initially made available back in February as part of a beta program, and today it is open to all companies. This also signals Fiverr’s first foray into subscriptions, opening the door to a more predictable and regular revenue stream. It’s free for the first year after signup, after which the platform costs $149 annually for up to 50 users.
Founded out of Tel Aviv in 2010, Fiverr is one of a number of marketplaces that offer freelancers a place to sell their wares, be that graphic design, digital marketing, translation, video production, voiceovers, or anything else that can be done online. Fiverr Business aims to connect these freelancers into companies’ existing workflows, allowing corporate departments to more easily work with each other and manage their projects collectively.
For example, admins can create purchasing policies that stipulate what orders need approval by someone more senior, which may apply to all orders or only to orders above a certain value.
The Fiverr Business dashboard also features a chat interface, allowing all the stakeholders to post their comments on a piece of work submitted by a freelancer.
Ultimately, Fiverr Business centralizes everything so that the status of all orders and projects can be viewed and filtered from a single screen.
Fiverr added that its new business product comes with “an additional layer of quality assurance,” which includes internal vetting and past performance. Supply is initially curated by Fiverr’s artificial intelligence, with the final candidates hand-picked by Fiverr’s staff.
The future of work
While digital platforms such as Fiverr may well fill a COVID-sized gap in the global workforce, the company has come in for criticism in the past for glorifying the exploitation that’s rife across the gig economy, such as low-cost labor and zero-hour contracts. Starting in 2017, Fiverr ran major advertising campaigns that seemingly celebrated jobs that offer poor work-life balances — “depressing” is what some called the ads.
The “gig economy” is literally killing us.
— it’s B! Cavello 🐝 (@b_cavello) March 9, 2017
Despite all the negative headlines and criticism Fiverr has garnered, it has emerged strong when other businesses have floundered.
“We have grown a lot as a company since then,” Levy Barkan said. “At the time, it was our unapologetic rallying cry for our community, our way of advocating for them, showing them we were here for them and we understood their struggles, but also their successes. It featured real people that use our platform, real freelancers, entrepreneurs and business decision makers from around the country.”
Fiverr’s continued growth is also testament to what else is going in the world. Indeed, the big shift to remote working was already happening before the COVID-19 crisis, but the pandemic has gone some way toward boosting this movement. This is perhaps more pertinent given the huge number of job losses in the U.S. and elsewhere, and with companies perhaps unwilling to commit to full-time hires, this opens the door for freelance marketplaces such as Fiverr to flourish.
“Since COVID-19 forced the entire world into social and economic lockdown, every aspect of businesses and work has been upended,” Levy Barkan continued. “Remote work and digital transformation are no longer options, but necessities to survive and thrive. Fiverr’s platform has become an important place for businesses to turn to in order to find experienced support and solutions, and where talent has turned to look for opportunities and income.”