Expert Insights

Ben Ross
Product SME


Your head will be sore from the technical product learnings Ben will teach us. Ben is an entrepreneur that has built freelance related products for over 10 years.

From a technology and product lens, we answered two key questions, what has changed in the last 10 years that makes now the right time for the freelance economy, and what will change in the next 5 years.

Hint 1…what changed was (1) consumer behavior with matching related technologies (think the taboo of E-Harmony vs the acceptance of Hinge, this is what’s happened with the gig economy being taboo and now freelancing being preferred), (2) Cloud computing enabling digital sourcing and collaboration, (3) effective data science search algorithms.

Hint 2…what will change in the next 5 years is (1) bundling of a singular plumbing infrastructure with partnerships between marketplaces built on top, (2) single pains of glass and identity tokens.

We know…very geeky, but very important for being able to plan and build for where the puck is going in the freelance economy.

Our Favorite Quotes

What’s so hard about the freelance economy?

  • The data is messy, you have 180 something countries, each with idioms each person self describes.
  • In order for this talent marketplace to be robust, and understandable, you need to be able to do apples to apples comparison. What does that mean? It means that you have to translate potentially across 100 different languages, cultural contexts, how people describe things. It’s a messy, but really cool problem.
  • The next part of the problem is you have to figure out how to validate the people that exist in an ecosystem? Is this person that person I think they are?

Why hasn’t LinkedIn or Salesforce already built ‘the’ freelance network?

  • Even though we think of LinkedIn as this huge talent platform, their business has pivoted to being a content marketing engine. They have one of the best b2b marketing platforms. When you look at the revenue associated from the recruiting, it’s very unprofitable, relatively speaking. 
  • With Salesforce, I think they have too many problems that they’re trying to solve.

What will change in 5 years?

1: Multitenancy – one place for freelancers to input information rather than manually inputting data into multiple marketplaces.

  • “The screen problem, how many places do I want to fill in my information, update my information, publish my information, monitor my information, etc. For the Freelancers, if you had a single pane of glass that said, ‘Here is my reputation, here’s my profile, here’s my activity across all the systems. This is my identity, and I can immediately share that token with you. And now you can publish in real time my statistics, because what I’m doing is I’m logging it by local instance, here’s who I am, here’s my update. And it pushes to all the platforms that you give it permission. That’s the Freelancer side.”

2. Streamlining the various data sources into an integrated pipeline instead of disparate, walled garden marketplaces and solutions

  • “On the company side, we need to be able to connect to all of their systems HRIS applicant tracking, vendor management, General Ledger, enterprise resource planning, and we need to give them a single pane that says, here’s this thing that you’ve deployed, this project, which is linked to an outcome, which is linked to a set of people, a set of dollars. Ultimately we need to build the most efficient pipes plus intelligence to allow both sides of the marketplace to reduce the amount of things that they have to sift through because information asymmetry is not a winning strategy.”

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