Talent Management Content

Upwork’s Share Price Slumps, But Online Staffing Platform Soldiers On (Part 1) [PRO]

Being a public company is not always easy, with performance vs. market expectations being put under the microscope every quarter. And Upwork (NASDAQ: UPWK), the global online freelancer marketplace and managed services provider, found that out Wednesday, May 9, after it announced its Q1 2019 financial results, which seemed to pack few, if any, surprises.

At the same time, while the shares fell swiftly from just over $20 to under $17 in after-hours trading, it bears remembering that, just months ago at the start of October 2018, Upwork offered its IPO shares at $15. Though this may not be a consolation to investors who acquired shares when the stock was trading between $20 and $25 in February and March, it may be somewhat reassuring for more conservative investors that expect a company’s share price to be linked to its fundamentals, including uncertainty.

In Part 1 of this two-part Spend Matters PRO series, we attempt to understand what was revealed shortly after 4 p.m. Eastern time May 9, that caused such disappointment among investors. In Part 2, we will look at Upwork’s several updates to new growth initiatives in the business (e.g., the creation of four service/pricing tiers for buy-side businesses), and we will offer our own perspective on Upwork’s current position as a high profile player in the changing contingent workforce space.

Shiftgig Changes Course — What Can We Learn? (Part 3) [PRO]

In Part 1 of this three-part Spend Matters PRO series, we overviewed Shiftgig’s seven-year evolution from an online marketplace/online staffing firm that matched hourly workers and open shifts that were offered by businesses (mainly in the hospitality, food and event industries). The company recently completed its pivot to a pure-play software solution/technology provider with the sale of the staffing operations part of its business to Headway Workforce Solutions and LGC Hospitality (the two established staffing firms will be using Shiftgig’s on-demand worker matching technology solution called Deploy). In Part 2, we talked with Shiftgig’s current CEO, Rick Bowman, about the company’s shift, its emergence as a technology solution provider and where Shiftgig may be heading now that the pivot is effectively complete.

In this final part of the series, we will step back and take a more analytical perspective and look at Shiftgig’s strategic shift in the broader context of the evolving contingent workforce technology solution and intermediation space. The Shiftgig story may raise more questions than answers. But they are good questions, such as: What happened? Was it Shiftgig’s execution or its strategy? What is the optimal role of online marketplaces and staffing firms? How is technology reshaping the established contingent workforce supply chain?

Shiftgig Changes Course — What Can We Learn? (Part 2): A Talk with CEO Rick Bowman [PRO]

Spend Matters recently had the opportunity to talk with Shiftgig CEO Rick Bowman, who joined Shiftgig as its CTO in mid-2017 before becoming CEO in July 2018. Since then, he has led the company through the launch of Deploy, its technology platform, and the recent deals with Headway and LCG, discussed in Part 1. For this Part 2 Q&A, Bowman provided his refreshing insider perspective on what has been happening at Shiftgig and what it means for the business. Part 3 will conclude with our analyst commentary on Shiftgig’s strategic shift in the broader context of the evolving contingent workforce technology solution and intermediation space.

Upwork’s Q1 Financial Results Are In — As Growth Continues

Upwork, a global online freelancer marketplace and managed services solution, on Wednesday announced its Q1 2019 financial results, which reflected continuing double-digit topline growth. Upwork’s shares on Thursday were trading early at $18.80, down from Wednesday’s high of $20.90. Upwork reported a gross services value of $487 million for the first quarter, up 21% period over period (Q1 2018). The company posted $68.9 million in revenue for an increase of 16% over Q1 2019 (and fitting nicely into last quarter’s guidance range).

At ISM 2019, Jasdeep Sandhu and other ‘30 Under 30’ winners honored

The Institute of Supply Management’s focus is on the future, and no educational session or speech at the ISM 2019 convention in Houston exemplified that more than recognizing Megawatt winner Jasdeep Sandhu and the other “30 under 30” recipients, the top young professionals in the field of supply chain and procurement. “It’s an incredible honor. If you asked me five years ago if I’d be in this position, I wouldn’t believe it,” said Sandhu, a blockchain specialist for the pharma firm GSK who turned 27 just before the early April convention. “Honestly, what it’s done, it has inspired me so much to continue down this path."

Globality Uses AI to Transform Complex Services Sourcing

The sprawling, and often poorly managed, domain of services spend in procurement has not been fully solved by the digital transformation, but as companies adopt technologies to support their efforts, they are discovering the great potential that technology can unlock.

Managing services spend requires assisting the many stakeholders who are sourcing for a variety of needs. To help support all of those sourcing processes, procurement professionals need a robust technology like artificial intelligence (AI), which offers unprecedented capabilities and potential to streamline the process and improve the vendor match. To shed light on that topic, we talked to Globality, a solutions provider with an AI-based procurement platform that helps clients around the world source services.

“Digital sourcing reduces time and improves the quality of the process,” says Yuval Atsmon, Globality’s Chief Customer Officer.

In this Q&A, Atsmon explains the value of bringing AI to B2B sourcing and how Globality uses AI to deliver results that save global clients and service providers time and money.

Microsoft 365 Freelance Toolkit: Retooling How Enterprises Work (Part 4) [PRO]

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Previously in this series, we took a deep look into the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit: what it is, how it organically took shape inside of Microsoft and how the supplier/partner collaboration with Upwork established a complete set of enterprise-grade, full lifecycle source-to-pay capabilities for the engagement of remote/online freelancers.

— In Part 1, we took a “product development perspective,” focusing on and explaining the toolkit itself. In addition, based on our interview of Paul Estes (Gig Economy strategy lead at Microsoft and the product lead of the Microsoft 365 freelance tool kit initiative) we also looked at how the toolkit was conceived and how it evolved from a set of internal of capabilities at Microsoft into a new solution for Microsoft customers.
— In Part 2, we took a “procurement perspective.” Based on our interview of Chad Nesland (Microsoft’s director of strategic sourcing and the procurement lead in the Microsoft Gig Economy initiative), we looked at how procurement, from the very start 2 years ago played a key enabling role in the cross-functional team and process that guided the evolution of the toolkit from idea to customer solution.
— In Part 3, we took a “partner/supplier perspective.” Based on our interview of Eric Gilpin, (SVP at Upwork Enterprise), we looked at the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit coupled with the capabilities of Upwork Enterprise. We also examined Upwork’s role as a strategic supplier/partner, what Upwork brought to the table and what the partnership has meant for Upwork itself.


In this briefing, Part 4, we step back and take an analyst’s perspective on the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit and Upwork partnership, offering our observations and potential insights for procurement and HR practitioners as well as other executives/managers who are grappling with how to address and optimize the use of freelance talent in their organizations. Taking things up a level of abstraction, we provide a more comprehensive business context; we highlight and discuss a number of important aspects of the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit and the more comprehensive solution that includes Upwork Enterprise; and we suggest what possible opportunities and considerations executives/practitioner could encounter down the road.

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: May 2019 [Plus+]

Welcome to the May 2019 edition of Spend Matters Insider’s Hot List, a monthly look at the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) space that’s available to PLUS and PRO subscribers. For those new to the Hot List, each edition covers the prior month’s important or interesting technology and innovation developments in the CW/S space. The latest edition looks at Uber's IPO, Shiftgig news, Moonlighting's blockchain news, Visa's move into fintech for fast payments, and Ernst & Young acquiring a UK-based alternative legal services provider (ALSP).

Using AI to Extend Digital Transformation to Services Procurement

Every time you shop at a favorite retailer’s online store or use an app to bank, you’re benefitting from the digital transformation of B2C services.

In the B2B environment, digital transformation of services is also taking place but at a slower pace. And in B2B for procurement, the shift is even slower, most often being used to automate processes and uncover potential cost-savings.

As discussed in The Digital Transformation of Services Sourcing: What It Is and Why It Matters, part 1 of this series, procurement departments will need purpose-fit technology to manage the vast areas of services spend. Procurement won’t necessarily do the hiring of services. That role will likely continue to rest with the stakeholders who need a marketing team or extra legal services. Since procurement departments may not be able to centralize the decision-making over services spend, they need another way to manage each stakeholder’s sourcing process — and the answer is artificial intelligence (AI). Read on to find out how AI is changing services spend.

Shiftgig Changes Course: What Can We Learn? (Part 1) [PRO]

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We recently reported that Shiftgig, the Chicago-headquartered, digital platform-based intermediary that connects workers and local businesses, announced that it was becoming a pure-play technology business. The company, which has raised $56 million since its Series A round in 2012, originally launched as an online marketplace that enabled workers to find hourly work and businesses to hire workers. Now, Shiftgig’s reinvention not only represents a significant pivot for the nearly seven-year-old company but also sheds some light on the evolution of the contingent workforce supply chain.

Part 1 of this series will provide background on Shiftgig’s business and a look into the company’s recent sale of its staffing operations to two staffing agencies that focus on hospitality/event staffing. Part 2 will cover our recent interview with Shiftgig CEO Rick Bowman, who shares his perspective on the business pivot and the current go-to-market strategy (ongoing since at least mid 2018). Part 3 of the series will conclude with our commentary on Shiftgig’s strategic shift in the broader context of the evolving contingent workforce technology solution and intermediation space.

CRO-to-CRO Video Series: Episode 3 Peels Back the Digital Procurement Platform Onion

So you’ve decided your procurement function needs to “go digital” with its software solution needs.

But where to begin? How do you buy this stuff?

“You start with having your business challenges in mind,” says Michel Janssen, one half of the "CRO-to-CRO" discussion pairing we've been spotlighting with a series of videos over the last couple of weeks.

Recently, Janssen — chief research guru of Everest Group, a research and management consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas — had a chance to sit down with his  former colleague Pierre Mitchell, chief research officer of Spend Matters.

In Episode 3 of this video series, the two CROs share a comprehensive framework they call a digital capability platform, which paints a holistic picture for prospective buyers. Ultimately, through this framework, Janssen and Mitchell uncover what is available to buy (point solution or suite?), how a buyer can bundle solutions and/or capabilities, and who owns — or should own — the responsibility for digital decision making.

From Watch to Know in 2019: Upwork Serves the Contingent Workforce Market

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Each year, some companies on Spend Matters’ 50 Providers to Know list and the list of 50 to Watch honorees here in the Spend Matters Almanac push themselves beyond simply a standout performance.

They earn the recognition that they are not only bringing innovation into procurement organizations but also leading the charge to change the way we do business for the better. These are the providers who shifted from Watch to Know in 2019, like Upwork.

To learn more about these providers, we reached out to a few such cases in our 2019 50/50 lists, asking how they’ve changed over the years and what differentiates them from the competition. Today’s Q&A features Upwork's Eric Gilpin, SVP of Enterprise.