Freelancer CEO Matt Barrie (left), with e27's Editor Iris Leung

Matt Barrie, CEO, Freelancer (left), with e27’s Editor Iris Leung

Sydney-based outsourcing and crowdsourcing marketplace for small businesses, Freelancer, wants to be the Alibaba of the services industry, its CEO Matt Barrie announced at Echelon Asia Summit 2015 in Singapore this morning.

Barrie, who said Freelancer is already the world’s largest crowdsourcing and freelancing marketplace with 16 million users, was speaking on the first fireside chat of day one of Echelon Asia, hosted by e27‘s Editor Iris Leung.

Over 2,000 are in attendance at Southeast Asia’s biggest annual startup conference.

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“There are global marketplaces for products with the size and scale of Alibaba, Amazon and eBay,” Barrie said. “I think this is absolutely going to happen in the services industry.”

Freelancer is huge in Asia

Freelancer is now available in 34 languages and 19 currencies, following its US$700 million IPO on the Australian Stock Exchange back in November 2013. Just this week, it started working closely with the Malaysian government. One of Freelancer’s beliefs is that as much as 40 per cent of the country’s workforce, in terms of income, could be powered through online work.

In Indonesia, the company supports the Indonesia Freelancer Association (IFA) Committee, and it is also seeing fantastic use in emerging markets such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Barrie said it’s “huge in the Philippines… it’s phenomenal… that country is absolutely flying,” having already overtaken India in a number of areas.


“The majority of users on Freelancer are actually in Asia… Indonesia is crazy. Literally, in the last two years or so, it’s gone completely mental,” he said. He attributed the growth to the rollout of high-speed Internet networks in the country of 250 million.

Singapore also has a strong presence on the platform.

Going public on the ASX

On the topic of going public in this part of the world, Barrie said the ASX (Australian Stock Exchange) is positioning itself as “the hub for tech companies in Asia.” Part of its popularity, he argued, is the lack of venture capital funding in the country — Australian VCs never fully recovered from the dot-com bubble in the late-90s. The ASX offers an easy alternative for later-stage companies to raise funds.

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Ultimately, Freelancer is aiming to be a platform for “entrepreneurs on both sides of the world,” and from our fireside chat with the company’s CEO, it’s clear that Asia is its most important market.

That isn’t likely to change any time soon.