New LinkedIn Marketplace for Freelancers

People love trolling LinkedIn.

The Microsoft-owned social network is an endless source of recruiting messages, corny inspirational posts, and voicemails from Jimmy.

Even so, its business is no joke: LinkedIn has 740m users and its revenue — from memberships, subscriptions, and job ads — hit $8.8B in 2020.

Now, LinkedIn marketplace for freelancers…

… called, err, Marketplace, per The Information.

The service is similar to platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork, which host freelance work from web design to home repair and make money by taking a cut (13%-27%) of the job.

LinkedIn’s offering will focus on white-collar work such as consulting, marketing, and writing. This is an extension of how the Marketplace project started in October 2019, when Microsoft acquired parts of UpCounsel, a startup that matches lawyers with small businesses.

Combined revenue for Fiverr and Upwork hit $550m in 2020

This is a drop in the bucket for LinkedIn.

However, The Information notes that Marketplace is more than just a revenue-generating opportunity:

  • Microsoft is working on a digital wallet to work across many of its services, and a gig platform will be a good use case for it.
  • The digital wallet will be a source of funds to help grow LinkedIn’s paid content network, where users can subscribe and tip content creators who bring them value.

The jury is still out on Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn

It cost the Redmond-based software giant $26.2B in 2016. And LinkedIn’s revenue growth has slowed from 86% in 2012 to 20% in 2020, per The Information.

Microsoft tried to acquire high-growth business lines in separate deals for TikTok and Pinterest, but neither materialized.

While Marketplace will give more surface area for Jimmy to reach out to people, the reality is that moving the needle on Microsoft’s $143B in revenue is a tall order.

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Our Thoughts:

This is a highly significant move for LinkedIn.  Some of the move active LinkedIn members are members of the freelance economy.  Will they get into the payments space?  There are a great many number of questions that need answering, particularly how to filter out SPAM proposals,  which Upwork has yet to solve.  Upwork and Fiverr are both lacking for different reasons, if their aim is ‘white collar’ per The Information reporting, it could be a game changer.  Assuming the proper protection is implemented to not just protect the Client, but the Freelancer as well.