Microsoft takes on Fiverr, Upwork with LinkedIn Marketplaces
Professional social networking platform LinkedIn will soon give the likes of Fiverr and Upwork a run for their money. The Microsoft-owned company will enter the gig economy with a new service called Marketplaces. Primed for launch as soon as September, Marketplaces will allow LinkedIn members to take up freelance gigs, much like how existing gig economy platforms enable freelancers to make a living.
LinkedIn's professional network presently has a massive userbase of 740 million, spread across a wide range of industries. The integration of Marketplaces will, therefore, provide it with a distinct advantage over its rivals, as there will virtually be no late entry disadvantage associated with growing the userbase from scratch. Marketplaces will focus on white collar services such as consulting, marketing, and writing.
LinkedIn's move comes after an uptick in businesses seeking temporary positions for executive coaching, software development, and design work. The company is building means for users to offer services directly through their profiles. This includes allowing users to post their own job proposals to attract freelance talent. Like existing gig platforms, clients will also have the means to rate freelancers upon job completion.
The upheaval in job market caused by the pandemic, combined with the work-from-home norm enforced by ensuing lockdowns, have led to an unprecedented increase in the gig economy. This is reflected in Fiverr and Upwork posting $550 million combined revenue in 2020, which was 37 percent more compared to 2019. LinkedIn is eyeing this growing market by opening up its network for freelance work.
In fact, LinkedIn may emulate the existing gig economy model, where it takes a small cut of the transactions, with Marketplaces itself looking similar to Fiverr. Interestingly, the parent company Microsoft is separately considering allowing freelancer payments to be made through the LinkedIn digital wallet, which is also in the works. This should make the platform a turnkey solution for both employers and job-seekers.