Fiverr, With $30M More, Looks to Build eBay, Amazon for Freelancers

8/12/14Follow @jpruth

With more cash in hand, Fiverr plans to connect more freelancers with gigs around the world.

On Monday, the company announced it raised $30 million in a Series C round from Bessemer Venture Partners, Accel Partners, Qumra Capital, and private investors. Fiverr, headquartered in Tel Aviv with U.S. offices in New York, is an online marketplace that lets businesses search for freelance professionals to complete specific tasks or services. The company plans to put the latest funding towards marketing and product development. Including the latest round, Fiverr has raised $50 million total funding since its founding in 2010.

Micha Kaufman, CEO and co-founder, says Fiverr wants to expand worldwide, tailoring the company’s website and app to work with more languages and currencies. “We’re already serving 196 countries,” he says.

Many of the professionals currently offering their services through Fiverr, he says, hail from the United States, Britain, Canada, and Australia. He hopes to see more freelancers around the world use the site. Small to medium-size businesses, Kaufman says, tend to be the primary clientele for offering gigs to freelancers, though that seems to be changing. “In recent months, we’ve been starting to see Fortune 500 companies use Fiverr for their needs,” he says.

Such enterprise companies tend to use Fiverr to find large numbers of freelancers to individually work on pieces of a bigger task, Kaufman says, such as taking photos for marketing needs.

He believes the way some freelancers use the site to promote their primary businesses makes Fiverr somewhat comparable to eBay in its early days. “EBay started from collectors and hobbyists that were doing small transactions,” he says. “They realized it was the platform for those who wanted to become merchants or business to thrive.”

There are quite a few startups—TaskRabbit and Zaarly come to mind—also with online markets for finding professionals to perform tasks. While Fiverr rather broadly lists many types of freelancers, other companies in this sector have gotten more focused with the services they offer.

TaskRabbit, for instance, now specializes in cleaning, handymen, personal assistance, and moving. Furthermore, TaskRabbit recently became more like a temp agency with hourly rates posted for each professional, rather than using the bidding model that had been used to win assignments.

Fiverr does not use a bidding or auction model for the services offered. “Freelancers don’t get this sense that they need to push their price down,” Kaufman says. “They get to pick the price for the services they define.”

Further, he says Fiverr is not trying to emulate a staffing firm or human resources platform. Kaufman regards the services that freelancers offer through his site as products for sale rather than personnel for hire. “The idea is not to give you freelancers you must manage,” he says. “The idea is to create something similar to e-commerce.”

Along with the funding news, the company introduced updated search functions for its marketplace. More detailed criteria are now available to narrow certain searches. For instance, a business might be looking for a voiceover artist with a particular accent for a gig.

Companies that come to Fiverr for the first time with specific needs in mind, Kaufman says, may discover other types of freelancers to offer gigs to. He hopes having a wide range of professionals ready to offer their services will translate into more business. “This is how Amazon grew,” Kaufman says. “They took in customers who came for books, and then people realized they could buy appliances or even food.”

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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