What does Upwork do? Upwork is revolutionizing the way we work as the largest freelancer marketplace. From software engineering (~50% of Upwork’s business) to podcast post-production, Upwork connects employers with talent around the world. This global model empowers sole proprietors and small businesses with the agency and flexibility to build their own path.
How does Upwork differentiate? Beyond network effects, how should marketplaces build a defensible competitive advantage? Stephane and his team are trying to build an ‘iceberg’. Everything for the user seems simple, but there’s a ton of differentiating infrastructure underneath. Upwork uses proprietary software (payment network, billing system) and trust and safety to keep users coming back to a wonderful customer experience.
How exactly do you go about competitive M&A? Acquiring a tangential product is one thing, but combining two leading competitors is an entirely different beast. Stephane discusses how companies should go about integrating quickly and seamlessly and how if done right, a merger can lead to an incredible flywheel of results.
What is the IPO process like? Stephane walks us through the step-by-step process of going public, starting with the rationale all the way to engaging bankers and hopping on a roadshow. Stephane knows this process cold, having lived through it himself, so I highly recommend this segment of hte podcast.
What’s Stephane’s vision for the future of work and Upwork? Today’s work environment is a product of legacy. As work becomes more specialized, companies are realizing that employment can be much more flexible and remote. Stephane and Upwork believes that in the future, we’ll put our personal lives first, with work complementing that life, as opposed to our historical precedent where oftentimes work defines our personal life.
What’s a book that’s changed Stephane’s perspective?
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz is Silicon Valley gospel, and Stephane’s a huge fan. While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.
Interested in learning more about Stephane and Upwork? Here are a few resources:
- Upwork shares rocket more than 50% higher at the open on their first day of trading
- Elance-oDesk Becomes ‘Upwork’ In Push To Build $10B In Freelancer Revenues
Thanks for tuning into another episode of the Pattern Recognition Podcast!