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Why LinkedIn Marketplaces is huge for the creator economy

LinkedIn is entering the gig economy.

The professional-oriented service popular with bothersome recruiters is reportedly building a marketplace for freelancers to find gigs.

The news: The product, dubbed Marketplaces, will allow LinkedIn’s 740+ million users to hire and pay freelancers on the platform. Marketplaces will be similar to Upwork and Fiverr, wherein users can find, hire and pay freelancers for a cut of about 10 to 25 percent of the gig. The platform will first focus on offering jobs for consulting, marketing, and writing, The Hustle reports. LinkedIn’s Marketplaces does not yet have a release date.

The background: Despite LinkedIn's waning revenue, Microsoft shelled out $27 billion in 2016 to reinvigorate the platform. According to The Information, LinkedIn’s revenue growth declined from 86 percent in 2012 to 20 percent in 2020.

Why it’s important: In building Marketplaces, Microsoft hopes to accelerate LinkedIn’s slowing growth by targeting the creator economy that’s worth about $10 billion. And with a giant like Microsoft entering the gig economy, it’s likely that the broader market for freelancers and indie hackers will grow even faster. Thanks to the pandemic, already more than one in three working Americans are freelancing — an increase of two million since 2019.


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Rising tide for gig marketplaces? Fiverr and Upwork notched about $550 million in combined 2020 revenue. That’s only about 6.2 percent of LinkedIn’s $8.8 billion in 2020.

While that’s comparably tiny, Microsoft and LinkedIn are investing in the idea that more people will enter the creator economy in coming years. That investment should ultimately benefit Upwork and Fiver.

While in the long run Marketplaces may lend a boost to the creator economy, investors in Upwork and Fiverr appear to be initially concerned with their enormous new competitor. Fiverr down about 12 percent and Upwork is down 7 percent as of 3:30 p.m. EST.

Was it worth it? Even though LinkedIn’s 8.8 billion in revenue dwarfs that of Upwork and Fiver combined, it is paltry compared to Microsoft’s $143 billion in 2020. If Microsoft wants to realize the value it saw in LinkedIn, the company’s Marketplaces tool must create real value for freelancers and attract more talent to the platform.

While it has a stodgy reputation and is widely mocked for spammy recruiters, LinkedIn is the most trusted social network, and its share of users between 25 and 34 years old has grown to about 60 percent.

Indie impact: LinkedIn’s investment in a gig marketplace once again validates the creator economy’s appeal to big tech companies and investors. If Marketplaces is successful, it will have a transformative effect on the creator economy and further incentivize tech companies to create revenue opportunities for freelancers.

What do you think about LinkedIn’s move to create Marketplaces? Please share your thoughts.

  1. 5

    Are you using "gig economy" and "creator economy" interchangeably? I understand them to be two distinct things, but perhaps I'm in the minority on that. If you also consider them to be separate ideas, can you explain a bit more how an improved gig economy particularly benefits the creator economy?

    1. 1

      Matt - I am understanding they are two distinct areas as well. Would be interested to see the breakdown.

  2. 4

    the post headline should be "linkedin decides to steam roller existing gig-worker platforms and become king of a bottom-feeding, mud-dwelling gig-spammers game"

    upwork, fiverr, guru, peopleperhour,... they are all packed to the rafters with tonnes of utter dross when it comes to gig workers desperately trampling each other's grannies to get to the next £1.20 per hour job.

    So Linkedin deciding to get a bit of that action, with its existing drossy/spammy/horrible 'community' spamming your inbox all day long,... well sort of makes sense.

    Gigging has a massive future - there are numerous reports showing the 9-5 single job til you get your pension is a thing of the history books. But we need players and tools that improve the quality of giggers and make it easier to match good founders and good workers.

    Linkedin getting in on this game will do NOTHING to improve the quality of workers in the gig economy. It will NOT help at all in making it easier for founders to find good team members.

    PS, I take back 5% of above, because I admit I have found some amazing talent over many years, usually on peopleperhour and once on fiverr. But only after wading through a lot of mud at the bottom of a stinking river to find these gems.

    1. 3

      This is hyperbolic to say the least. It hasn't even launched yet and it already steamrolled UpWork?

      UpWork is too established now and only growing. If this Linkedin freelancing platform overtakes UpWork within 2 years of launching, I won't eat my shoe but I doubt anything close to that even happens.

      The UpWork talk is always so funny to me because there is so much great work/clients/freelancers on the platform and it's only gotten better since I started there in 2016.

      1. 2

        some fun facts to help us decide if we should take that shoe-eating bet ;-)

        "Upwork has over eighteen million registered freelancers and five million registered clients"

        "LinkedIn has over 760 million users, with more than 260 million monthly active users."

        I honestly don't think Upwork has a chance.

        Having said that, Linkedin will flood the market with messaging and win a lot of business, but it will be just more of the same mix of candidates that are difficult to wade through in order to find the decent ones.

        I also used AWS's IQ for the first time yesterday as a client. So all freelancers are supposedly AWS certified, etc, etc. Well yes they may be but the selection of candidates that have so far contacted me has been the worst of all the platforms.

        Any IH'ers ready for a challenge of totally re-modelling how the freelancer/clients game works.

        1. 1

          I'm working on careermove.io. Can I get a 20 minutes call with you to share more and maybe get some feedback?

          1. 1

            hey @launchbeast, I'm confused, the about-us and domain suggests a community of people helping with careers - I think?

            But when I go to the site I see a series of posts, and the first two I recognised from IH - is your service simply scraping content from IH?

            So what is careermove.io about?

            1. 1

              It's not scraping IH but posted by the original authors.

              Career Move used to be a jobboard. Currently it's being rebuilt into a digital platform that helps professionals find work opportunities and help others through sharing their career move stories and experiences

              1. 1

                oh cool, good luck, there is, as I keep saying in my dull witterings elsewhere, a big market for helping in the careers space. happy to email if you want some input but bit snowed under for a call just now.

                1. 2

                  I super appreciate.

                  I'll email you a couple of questions that have been bothering me for weeks now.

                  Thank you so much

  3. 2

    This is an interesting development for sure.

    But I find it somewhat worrying because, as others in the thread have noted, the current freelance marketplaces are narly, and I worry if the same happens at LinkedIn, then that could potentially affect the part of LinkedIn that is working rather well.

    Anyway putting that aside for a second.

    The typical way freelance web development works is to charge an upfront amount, then payments at predefined milestones.

    I find these marketplaces often over complicate something that should be very simple, introducing escrow services, forcing all communication to go via the platform etc, and often put freelancers at a disadvantage.

    There’s an inherent conflict of interest. Freelancers want to be independent, but these platforms, at least the ones I have seen so far, don’t really want that, they want the freelancers to be dependant on them.

    1. 1

      to be fair, Peopleperhour "seemingly" doesn't enforce the "you must use our platform for all comms", so I often agree with freelancers to chat on skype/phone in a much more independent way; but that any key agreements/specs will be copied/pasted to the pph thread just to have an official copy.

      But as per my other post, yeah the conflict of interest is massive in all these platforms - lets rebuild them fellow IH'ers! ;-)

      1. 2

        I don’t have any issues using these platform for storing docs I totally can see that there are some tools they could provide that could be useful. But they need to figure out the core part first.

        In my experience many of the existing platforms break standard freelancing ways of doing things in such a way that disadvantages freelancers, and just generally makes the process more difficult. Small barriers just appear out of nowhere, from on boarding, to account setup, finding quality job postings, to making bids, to negotiating with clients, I’ve had 1 issue or another every single time.

        Just a couple of weeks ago I spent 2 weeks trying to update something on my account. It’s more trouble than it’s worth.

        I feel the single thing that is missing is a service that focusses solely on introducing freelancers to clients. Nothing else. Without that being functional, everything else will just get in the way.

        1. 1

          @mjgs yeah a nice easy github solution. it would be funny indeed! Come on devs ;-)

          I often think the issue with upwork/guru/peopleperhour is simply that they are over-engineered.

          I posted my jobs the other day to a couple of subreddits and people are just messaging me their git repo link, or a simple link to their home page. If they are any good I ask them to email me, and I then manage the pipeline through a few email folders (e.g. backlog, potential, shortlist). Really not complicated and it just works and takes a few minutes.

          But then I head over to each of the job boards to check applicants on them, and each one grinds away at 20 minutes of my time to go through the same number of candidates. Half of that is waiting for the page loads on upwork - are they running their entire platform on a $5/month Linode or something!?

          1. 2

            ...of course the modern way to do it would be to come up with a standard format for job ads and then just post them to something like the etherium blockchain.

            Then anyone could create a focussed web frontend, and we’d all be using the same data.

          2. 2

            ...and yes a lot of these sites are over engineered.

            Doing things over email is often easier.

            Each one of these sites takes hours to setup your account, adding past work history etc, and that’s if it goes smoothly.

            It needs to be easier than email.

            1. 1

              I am new to reddit - been in tech for 30 yrs but for some reason reddit passed me by til a few weeks ago.

              so when someone on here suggested r/forhire I posted my job ads - I literally copy and pasted the wording as a new post and set the subject line as "[hiring] blah blah".

              it's such a basic, almost primative 2003 way of doing it. yet I am amazed how many "really good" devs found the ad within hours and have responded.

              Yes sure, the payment thing is difficult I guess - does anyone offer an off the shelf escrow service that can be used for generic services?

              1. 2

                I’ll have to check out that Reddit, sounds like it might be a good place to find jobs/devs. I like the simplicity of it.

                I’ve been having ongoing issues (my account doesn’t appear correctly externally) with Reddit from the day I created my account, so I’m pretty negative about the whole site. Their support team only send me automated emails. Users just keep telling me I must be banned. it’s been a terrible experience, like being a hostage.

                I’m not a big fan of escrow services, I have found that they can make the client uneasy in some situations.

          3. 2

            Funny perhaps isn’t the best way to describe it. I mean it would be funny but also very cool.

            I looked into something like this in the past few months and there is ‘prior art’. I was looking specifically for NodeJS solutions, but I found some job boards implemented in GitHub repos for Python jobs.

            It was something like create a pull request with the job advert, then interested parties would discuss things in a GitHub Issue. I think there was even a static site that got generated that listed the latest jobs.

            If I had some spare time I would have a go at it myself.

            1. 1

              "spare time"??? is there an app that can create more of that ;-)

              1. 2

                Unfortunately the only app I have found so far is called SleepLess, works in the short term, but ends up having a bad effect on your good hours.

        2. 1

          so all in all it seems from both the business and freelancer points of view, none of these platforms/marketplaces really work smoothly and efficiently and few people like using them.

          Such a huuuuuuuuuge opportunity for one of us ;-)

          1. 2

            It would be funny if one of the indie hacker devs solved it with a fancy set of GitHub actions.

  4. 2

    Thank you for sharing! I’m a top rated plus freelancer on Upwork and was looking for an alternative. I have a super dope LinkedIn profile and believe that their marketplace is a great fit for my skills.

  5. 2

    Pretty huge. Freelance marketplaces are the core of the gig economy, and the best way to solve the chicken-and-egg problem of two-sided marketplaces is to show up with literally millions of chickens and eggs in your hands.

    Meanwhile, the US gov took steps last week to slow the gig economy's momentum. Market forces and government regulations are basically playing chicken with each other.

  6. 1

    I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft buys Upwork as it enters this marketplace. It only make sense.

  7. 1

    Very interesting. Am I too much of “old-school” when I don’t use these platforms like UpWork and so on? I have been a freelancer for the past 3 years and all of my clients are coming from my researching the market and then making contacts with people through for example LinkedIn.

    This has been working great for me. Might be very wrong here but I feel like these platforms are just a way for clients to find the cheapest possible and not really caring about anything else.

    Any freelancers more than I that do the whole “CRM-mode” to get clients or are all using these platforms?

    1. 1

      Personal networking is huge for my business too. I have a mix of personal-networking and Upwork clients. I've enjoyed having the mix and during the pandemic, it's been particularly important as I moved just before it.

      I totally hear you regarding clients' seeking the absolute cheapest option. There is plenty of that, however, I'd say about an equal amount of clients that are willing to pay more for talented people. Over time, you can pretty quickly discern which ones aren't worth your time by looking at history, certifications, account age, etc.

      1. 1

        Awesome. I want to try out Upwork just to see for myself. But personal networking and outreach has worked very good for me.

        If I should try out one of these platforms is it Upwork that you would recommend?

  8. 1

    Has there been an official announcement?

    I didn’t find anything on the LinkedIn blog:

    https://blog.linkedin.com

  9. 1

    For those looking to boost freelance gigs outreach, we @ Ginevar have a web scraper that lets you get instant notifications and automatic apply to jobs almost with no input from the user.

    I love to see that LinkedIn is joining this vertical, this will help boost the reliability and confidence on their competitors

    1. 2

      and that is exactly one of the problems @nfcurti!

      If someone responds to a job post within 60 seconds with a response that doesn't even mention half the key facts in my job spec, then I immediately...

      1. delete it - a process that takes 10-20 seconds of my time so annoys me (1 is fine but when you get 30 of them as I did yeaterday!!!)

      2. get very annoyed that I have been sucked in yet again to a process I hate using

      1. 0

        That's interesting Steve! That pretty much sums up the actual process of finding freelancer right now as well, so I totally see how the employer might not see much value in this.

        Thankfully our AI writes automatic replies that totally look human, and relevant while still considering employer specifications

        1. 2

          I dont want it to look like a human, I want it to "be" the human.

          These marketplaces are the first step in creating a very personal business and professional relationship between a business owner and a member of staff. The job may only last 1 day but often businesses want someone who will stay with them for future projects. And for startup founders in particular, the cost of a developer is such a huge investment that they often cannot afford financially and cannot afford to get wrong.

          So for that relationship to be outsourced by the freelancer to a robot is insulting and shows no respect for a potential employer.

          Apologies if my words are strong, but there are times when AI can save the world, and times when it is used so badly and wrongly.

          1. 1

            apologies again @nfcurti, I think suddenly discovering somebody who is behind some of those auto-responses that we businesses get when we post jobs on marketplaces brought out 10 year's worth of frustration at having to filter through them all ;-)

            I am sure ai can be used to good in this area. But whilst your focus has been on helping freelancers, I think with marketplaces it's important to make sure tools help both sides equally.

            1. 1

              Thanks a lot for the input Steve, mind if I drop you a dm on twitter so we can talk further? I really like to help businesses as much as freelancers so we can build an optimal marketplace where both sides are content with what they get

              1. 1

                ooh not twitter, I only have the account because people tell me I have to - please don't make me actually use it ;-)

                email is good though, anytime!

          2. 1

            Don't have to be apologetic, if anything your words are nothing but encouraging!

            Our AI is traained enough to write like you and me with little input, and so far it's been working wonders.

            We've been closing deals 34% faster than without using the platform, so if your hypothesis is correct then our system is way ahead of current market methodologies.

            Thanks for the words Steve!

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