A picture of a sitting freelancer and pop ups of various images

The freelance marketplace is starting to gain some serious traction in the world today. They offer a foolproof, convenient and efficient way of connecting with freelance talents around the world and this has led to a massive increase in their demand and popularity. Establishing a freelance marketplace greatly benefits freelancers, various companies seeking talent and the founder of the marketplace.

As the freelance culture continues to rise steadily, the world is starting to witness a gradual migration of various talents and professionals from in-office jobs to freelance work. Since the last decade, hundreds of new freelance platforms loaded with new exciting features and opportunities have emerged, aided by the global pandemic and rise of remote work.

Freelancing platforms today feature several fields of work from graphics design to programming. These fields can offer massive benefits depending on the client’s needs. A chart showing the most common in-demand skills of freelancers as well as their share in the marketplace can be seen below.

Data Source: Payoneer Freelancer Income Report 2020

There are quite a number of factors to consider in selecting a platform perfect for freelancers. It can range from the frequency of new opportunities presented, the variety of jobs available, prompt payment of freelancers, the user-friendliness of the freelance platform and naturally the authenticity of freelancers and organizations.

Taking the above factors into consideration, let’s explore the industry and find out the top 10 freelance platforms of the 21st century.


Upwork is the world’s biggest freelance marketplace, reaching millions of independent talent and organizations in various locations around the globe. Their talent community was able to earn over US $2 billion across over 8000 skills in 2019. The company offers various fields of freelance work including consulting, finance & accounting, app & web development, customer support, web design and many more. Upwork has a goal to build up economic opportunities in the quest of providing independence (both financial and otherwise) to freelancers and organizations of the world.


Founder: Odysseas Tsatalos

Date of Incorporation: 1999

Headquarters: Santa Clara, California, United States

Funding Amount: US $168.8 Million

Number of Investors: 18

Funding Status: Secondary Market


Fiverr is a world-class marketplace offering professional and innovative services by connecting clients with top-tier freelancers of the world. The company presently has a list of more than 3 million gigs (a field of service) in over 100 various categories and across 196 countries of the world. Fiverr made the list of the top 400 websites globally according to data gotten from Alexa.com.


Founders: Ajiboye Dapomola Simeon, Micha Kaufman and Shai Wininger

Date of Incorporation: February 1, 2010

Headquarters: Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel

Funding Amount: US $111 Million

Number of Investors: 8

Funding Status: Series E


Freelancer is a high-profile freelancing platform that employs top-notch freelancers and connects them with employers of labour. Their website allows clients and employers to hire freelancers based on their work needs. Several common fields for which most freelancers are hired here include software development, logo design, telemarketing, SEO for websites, web design, content translation, market research and many more.


Founder: Matt Barrie

Date of Incorporation: May 1, 2009

Headquarters: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Funding Amount: A $37.5 Million

Number of Investors: 3

Funding Status: Post-IPO Equity


Toptal is a global network having top-tier talents in design, business and technology that allows organizations to scale their teams when needed. The company provides their services to thousands of clients including Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HP), Fortune 500 companies, Axel Springer, Bridgestone and more. Toptal aims to keep providing professional skills and world-class solutions at an unrivaled success rate.


Founders: Breanden Beneschott and Taso Du Val

Date of Incorporation: November 2010

Headquarters: San Francisco, California, United States

Funding Amount: N/A

Number of Investors: 7

Funding Status: Seed


99designs is a globally recognized innovation platform that connects designers and clients in a convenient, friendly and professional platform for maximum efficiency. Their platform is meant only for designers unlike most freelance marketplaces. 99designs has been empirically proven to be an effective platform for top-notch design work and as such, has become the go-to solution for companies, individuals and agencies. They started as a micro online forum and have since grown into a world-renowned community of top-tier designers using creativity to deliver opportunities to people all over the globe.


Founders: Mark Harbottle and Matt Mickiewicz

Date of Incorporation: February 1, 2008

Headquarters: Oakland, California, United States

Funding Amount: US $45 Million

Number of Investors: 5

Funding Status: Series B


Guru is a world-class online freelance marketplace bringing clients together with top-tier professionals to meet their needs. The company provides various features and sub-platforms to ensure convenience and optimal flow of operations for freelancers and businesses alike. An example is SafePay, a highly secured payment system for employers and freelancers. They also provide freelancers with the latest updates to ensure top-notch quality of work as well as full support in the goal of being a successful and independent freelance agent.


Founders: Al Yau, Bjoern Lasse Herrmann, Inder Guglani and James Slavet

Date of Incorporation: 1998

Headquarters: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

Funding Amount: US $41 Million

Number of Investors: 4

Funding Status: Series B

Simply Hired

Simply Hired is a global freelance marketplace that manages job search engines in 12 languages and across 24 countries. The company has over 30 million unique visitors each month and as such is able to provide freelancers with access to millions of job openings across several industries. Simply Hired has also partnered with several high profile bodies including Fox Business, Computerworld, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Washington Post and more. They simplify the process of connecting employers with job seekers through their pay-per-click and pay-per-post advertising solutions.


Founders: Anil Godhwani, Gautam Godhwani and Peter Weck

Date of Incorporation: May 1, 2004

Headquarters: Sunnyvale, California, United States

Funding Amount: US $34.3 Million

Number of Investors: 15

Funding Status: Series E


PeoplePerHour is another popularly-known marketplace connecting freelancers or self-employed professionals and small businesses together. The platform provides an international community of top-tier professional freelancers whose major goal is the success of a client’s business. PeoplePerHour also delivers a unique method of finding out about services to develop businesses at an extremely low rate, providing freedom to test run ideas while keeping cost at the bare minimum. 


Founders: Simos Kitiris and Xenios Thrasyvoulou

Date of Incorporation: September 14, 2007

Headquarters: London, England, United Kingdom

Funding Amount: US $10.5 Million

Number of Investors: 2

Funding Status: Series Unknown


Designhill is an online freelance marketplace that connects clients and employers with design experts from all over the world. The platform offers over 35 different categories of design including, graphics design, app design, logo design, t-shirt design and many more. Designhill not only provides a framework for designers to offer their expertise to clients, but also a healthy and competitive community where they could improve their skills and experience through interaction with each other. The company is poised to generously reward exceptional designers who put in the most effort and display professionalism in carrying out their duties.


Founders: Rahul Aggarwal and Varun Aggarwal

Date of Incorporation: October 1, 2014

Headquarters: New Delhi, India

Funding Amount: N/A

Number of Investors: N/A

Funding Status: N/A


Aquent is a freelance marketplace that supplies Fortune500 clients with top-tier professionals and talents. The company is involved in several industries including Human Resources, Outsourcing and recruiting.


Founders: John Chuang and Steven Kapner 

Date of Incorporation: 1986

Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Funding Amount: N/A

Number of Investors: N/A

Funding Status: Series Unknown

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Stephen conducts business research and writes about the startup ecosystem on VCBay. He is a 3rd-year Business administration student from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, specializing in all things business and technology.



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