Afternoon Coffee: Fiverr Acquires Services Platform AND CO, Asia Moves Forward on TPP Without the US

Fiverr, an online marketplace for creative and digital services supplied by freelancers, announced Wednesday its acquisition of AND CO, a services platform designed to lift the business overhead burden from the shoulders of freelancers, according to a press release. The acquisition is another step in Fiverr’s efforts to “help professionals live the freelance lifestyle.” (The company has also partnered with Stride Health to help freelancers manage their own access to healthcare.) According to the announcement, AND CO’s platform services will be made available at no cost to both online and offline freelancers.

“Fiverr’s initiative here seems representative of a trend among platforms to provide much-needed support services to freelancers,” said Andrew Karpie, director of labor and services procurement research at Spend Matters. “Freelancers efficiently deliver significant value to businesses across a range of services categories. But businesses must appreciate the challenges these workers face and take proactive steps to mitigate them.”

TPP Nears Completion

Asian-Pacific nations are moving forward with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) a year after the U.S. dropped out of the proposed trade pact. As Axios reports, the remaining 11 countries in the negotiations announced Wednesday that they had reached a deal and could ratify the agreement as early as March.

Toys ‘R’ Us Closings

The path out of bankruptcy is becoming clearer for Toys ‘R’ Us. The retailer is planning to close 180 stores in the U.S., according to the Bloomberg, and consolidate its toy and baby brands into single locations, helping to attract a wider customer base and reduce inventory.

Natural Gas 

And finally, an energy update: The price of liquefied natural gas is soaring to a three-year high, the Wall Street Journal reports, as China accelerates its shift away from coal to the cleaner-burning fuel. The higher prices are also symptomatic of a supply crunch, as industrial giants like BASF have been left looking for gas while the Chinese government diverts reserves to households.

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