The world’s largest centralised freelancing platform Upwork went offline today leaving millions of independent workers with a blank screen and a 503 error message.
The California-based freelance platform, which has a reputation for being notoriously difficult to gain approval on, is responsible for holding its users money when they’re paid for completing assigned jobs advertised by one of the platform’s five million registered clients. With the service now temporarily unavailable and so many reliant on Upwork to generate an income, it spells doom for the many millions of users who are now unable to access to their earnings.
This overbearing dependency highlights a serious flaw in centralised platforms like Upwork, which take all control away from the individual and leaves them at the mercy of website developers and technical support teams when things go wrong.
The centralised control (albeit lack off) doesn’t stop there. In 2016 the platform was heavily scrutinized when it decided to double its withdrawal fees from 8-10% to 20% on the first $500 each user makes, to cover the company’s falling valuation at the time. Also, if you’re one of the platform’s registered clients you are also expected to fork out a ‘standard processing fee’ of 2.75% on top of what you pay a freelancer, for every single job assignment that they complete.
There are also stories of Upwork freezing accounts and blocking users unfairly, refusing to grant them access to money that was held on their platform from previously completed work.
So Why Is this Relevant To Blockchain Technology?
According to an official Upwork press release, the no.1 fastest growing skill for freelancers over the first quarter of the year was ‘Blockchain’.
“Its growth exceeded 2,000% for three quarters in a row on Upwork.com, and in Q1 it experienced more than 6,000% year-over-year growth, making it the fastest-growing skill out of more than 5,000 skills on the site.”
So if the number of blockchain freelancers, who we assume are motivated by decentralization, is growing exponentially compared to other industry skills, why are so many drawn to use these centralised platforms to find work?
The answer is simple. We already have several blockchain-based freelance platforms attempting to overcome this particular market niche; CryptoTask, Freelancercoin, Orbi Network, Dream, to name a few, but all of these are either in ICO or do not possess the team/ vision to oppose these centralised platforms right.
The time for change is coming and eventually decentralized projects like those above will supercede platforms like Upwork, which are currently taking advantage of the lack of competition in this market.