Now that I have embarked on my research for the next book on the high-end of the on demand expertise marketplace, I am having a lot of deja vu moments. Certainly, there is the fact, that though I have been gone from my old firm for several years, things have not changed that much. Tremendous, credentialed expertise of just about any type is available on demand. Companies continue to avail themselves of this resource in new ways, and new competitors continue to arrive touting different points of differentiation.
It is this last area where the deja vu comes in, because the new platform competitors appear to be cropping up everywhere. My twitter feed is cluttered with entreaties from one firm to beta test a new platform that "won't suck." (I couldn't help but wonder if they shouldn't get a free
lance copy writer to come up with a better ask...) Quite frankly, I am reminded a bit of the frothy days of the internet when pets .com became the 4th ( yes 4th) online pet supply store. Despite the fact that dog food is not a high value shipping product, the firm had an amazing IPO valuing it at close to $100 million in 2000 and was out of business 9 months later.
I am not suggesting that the online freelance marketplaces are headed for the same fate. Indeed, I think technology is creating the platform to enable a market to be made in talent, in the true economic sense of the word market. I look forward to better understanding these business models to see how differentiated they really are. Certainly, some are defined by the type of talent they seek to attract; the sites working with copy writer won't appeal to CFO's, but dancers will do... Interestingly, one in the UK, combines a totally automated service with consultant mixers, so freelancers can gather together. I can't help but wonder if freelancers will subscribe to all that operate in their area of expertise, or if they will choose just one. If it were me, I'd definitely go for the one with the mixers...I am a sucker for cocktails...