It was the year 1999 that Elance was first launched. The name, Elance drew its inspiration from Harvard Business Review article that was published in the year 1998. The Harvard article titled was “The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy” from which the company adopted the name. The initially ideas behind the development of Elance was to act as a technology which will support virtual work. After two years of establishment of Elance, they introduced what is called a vendor management system (VMS). This system was build for third-party services which the large enterprises used and also for contractors. Elance decided to sell its enterprise software division in 2006 and instead started developing its current web-based platform. This was developed for online purposes and contingent work.

Based on the data of February 2013, Elance is believed to be used by around 500,000 businesses along with this there are the number of freelance professionals registered on Elance is around 2 million. These professionals have all together said to have earned approximately $850 million till date.

In the year 2013, there was a merger between Elance and oDesk was confirmed. oDesk is another online staffing platform that is highly used. Though the merge was confirmed in 2013, the deal for this was finalized only in April 2014. Together the two companies have created a resource consisting of more than 8 million freelancer professionals and more than 2 million businesses users in the site.

This merger underwent yet another change recently in May 2015. Here Elance-oDesk was re-launched as Upwork. Even after the change Elance was the one that remained as an Upwork company. Among all the merging and changing Elance is still considered as a stand-alone site that is maneuvered by Upwork. Though in the near future Elance is might merge with the Upwork platform. Both these two platforms as of today consist of around 4 million businesses and around 10 million freelancer users.


There are many features that site offers that have made it so popular. One is that the Elance website enables businesses to search for freelance professionals, along with posting jobs on the site, and lastly to solicit proposals. On the site a business professionals have an option to evaluate the freelancers and contractors applying for the job.Once the professional selects a contractor the communications and documents that are exchanged between the two is done through Elance system. The payments for jobs are also made through the site itself. Until the payment is completed the funds are held in a system called the escrow by Elance. This is to ensure that the payment is done upon completion.

The site for professional freelancers enables them to search for jobs. They can also research clients’ buying histories through the site’s data system. Freelancers can post a profile that displays their feedbacks and past jobs, and specific skill, a portfolio, and information on educational-qualification. The paid members have more features they can access than the free users. Elance guarantee payment once work this is done through the Elance system.