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Fiverr launches ‘Studios’ to let freelancers form teams and deliver services like an agency

07/30/2019 By

Fiverr, the online marketplace for creative/digital services, on Tuesday announced its latest product, Studios, which allows freelance workers to self-organize a project to offer an “agency-like team.”

Fiverr successfully went public in June, and Spend Matters has covered Fiverr since its start in 2017.  The launch of Studios seems to be a part of a freelance platform trend toward enabling small-scale service providers and teams, not just solo freelancers. Upwork just last week launched an “agency experience,” and  something called “flash teams” may be moving from theory to practice.

Within the species of online freelancer marketplace platforms, Fiverr is a unique breed. It strives to offer its buyers a low friction, consumer-like “e-commerce experience” — a hassle-free process of purchasing off-the-shelf commodity services. Fiverr also has taken various approaches to support its sellers (freelancers), including its acquisition of And Co in January 2018.

According to Fiverr’s announcement, Studios is “a transformative product, offering sellers on its platform a new way to collaborate with each other. Fiverr freelancers can now join forces under one ‘Studio’ to create projects combining their different skills and experience to offer full service solutions to tackle larger and more complex assignments for businesses. Buyers get the same seamless experience, a single point of contact, a single brief and a single fixed price for an entire agency-like team.”

Fiverr Chief Operating Officer Hila Klein said in a press release that Studio stems from Fiverr’s goal of creating ways for its community to connect and collaborate on a global scale.

“Studios is the natural evolution of the Fiverr platform,” Klein said. “Today we have elevated our marketplace from a platform of single contributor Gigs to teams of talented freelancers collaborating as a small agency to serve all businesses, from SMBs to enterprises. It is an amazing opportunity for sellers and buyers alike to work on and have complex projects completed with the same frictionless experience they are used to getting with Fiverr.”

Not Just Solo Freelancers and Not Just Online Agencies

Up until now, Fiverr buyers could only purchase a service from an individual freelancer. Now buyers can purchase a service from a self-organized team of freelancers, supported by the Studios platform capability (which we have not yet investigated in detail). According to the press release, “buyers experience richer services with a wide variety of projects,” which the announcement seems to suggest could be more complex than the garden variety Fiverr services offered by individual sellers. In this case, the buyers interact with a single point of contact appointed by the team (i.e., the Studio Lead)

“For freelancers, joining a Studio or becoming a Studio Lead,” the announcement states, “means more opportunity to work with businesses of all sizes on more intricate initiatives. Freelancers can now collaborate and work with each other as part of these online studios without the hassle of billing, invoicing or managing payments.”

Fiverr’s Studios seems to differ from other platforms’ solutions that support small agencies along with solo freelancers insofar as Studio teams appear to self-organize through the Fiverr platform (rather than come to the platform as an actual agency business). Though we need to learn more about Studios and the enabling platform capabilities, it seems Studio is a more transient, demand-driven, agile entity rather than a small, branded company. It also appears to be organized around a single, fairly specific sort of service, and we’re not sure if Studios can expand its lineup to more than one service. My guess is that’s not what Studios is all about. But we’ll need to peel the onion back further at a later time.

Below is a screenshot (provided by Fiverr) of what might be called a Studio online storefront, replete with the type of standard service offered, the Studio rating, the Studio Lead and team members, and a comprehensive explanation of three standard package levels:

Fiverr and Upwork

Fiverr’s Studios, if our assumptions are correct, seems like a “never-seen-before” offering. But its creation appears to be a response to a common upward trending demand by buyers for the services of small-scale service providers that are engageable through online platforms. At the same time, Studios is also a structure that can potentially provide increased opportunity to online freelancers that choose to — and are capable of — working together.

Last week, we covered Upwork’s announcement regarding its platform capabilities that support small agencies and the buy-side businesses that increasingly want to engage them. In our article Upwork announces new ‘agency experience’ at its Work Without Limits summit, we noted that Upwork’s term, “agency,” refers loosely to a relatively small, boutique service provider that employs or contracts with anywhere from a few to dozens of workers. The Upwork platform could (and already does) support many types of agencies and services; but, at this time, Upwork’s expanded “agency experience” is operational, to start, for three categories: marketing, creative/design, and mobile, web and software development.

As noted, Upwork’s agency solution appears to cater to small, established or aspiring agency businesses, which may offer multiple services and plan to operate as “going concerns.” Upwork’s online agencies may offer multiple types of services and appear to function, more or less, like any off-line agency would.

On the buyer side, companies can run what is effectively an RFx process, evaluate agency bids and select an agency to execute a project. Also, Upwork’s solution provides “vendor management” capabilities, the ability to on-board, manage and source from a buy-side company’s own, let’s say, private vendor network.

That said, the high-level difference between the agency solutions of Upwork and Fiverr appears to be their focus on and enablement of, respectively (a) agency businesses that are organized almost like traditional agencies, except that they are online, and (b) self-organized Studio teams that appear to be more transient and focused on a single type of service. This presumed high-level difference and other detailed differences will no doubt be the subject of a future Spend Matters PRO research brief.

The Future of Work — Today and Tomorrow

Although I’m indulging myself in a futuristic stretch, Studio makes me think of Stanford’s University HGI’s “flash organizations” and “flash teams.” We noted in a 2017 Spend Matters article, How Stanford University is Bringing the Future of Work into Sharper Focus, that “flash teams” assemble and structure expert crowd workers and their work to enable users to complete complex and interdependent projects (e.g., web design) the do this by using “computational approaches for dynamically assembling and managing paid experts from the crowd.”

Back in 2017, we observed that “this approach differs from the use of online labor marketplaces and crowdsourcing platforms in that these platforms provide little, if any, support for work organization, coordination and collaboration.” Clearly, times have changed and some of those platforms, such as Fiverr and Upwork, are providing supporting online worker organization, coordination and collaboration into small production units.

We’re not asserting that Fiverr has in mind a vision that resembles flash organizations and teams. But it is interesting to imagine and think about a line that runs from off-line contractors through online freelancer marketplaces through digital platforms supporting online agencies and collaborative teams all the way to HCI’s flash organizations and teams. In other words we are witnessing (and participating in) the evolution of future of work. It’s not just hype.