MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--(Marketwired - Jan 14, 2015) - Elance-oDesk, the world's largest online workplace, today released its first-ever annual work predictions and published both the 2014 Global Online Work Report and a 2014 U.S. Online Work Report. These reports shed light on the state of the online work market and reveal global skills trends based upon the Elance-oDesk data warehouse -- the biggest repository of freelance work data available.

"With the rise of the on-demand economy, even talent is shifting online. Businesses spent $941 million hiring online via and in 2014 and are increasingly relying on building teams of distributed professionals and hiring flexibly as part of their strategy," said Rich Pearson, SVP of Categories and Geographies at Elance-oDesk. "We're already seeing these shifts in our data, and they point to a number of fascinating trends for 2015 -- such as the rise of virtual agencies and a change in the guard on the reigning mobile programming language."

Elance-oDesk 2015 Work Predictions

1. Swift will overtake Objective C as the primary mobile app development language. Many say that the jury is still out as to whether Swift, Apple's new programming language, will win the hearts of developers and outshine more traditional choices. InfoWorld says that Swift isn't so swift after all, SLATE calls the new language a "grab bag," and InformationWeek isn't convinced that Objective-C's days are numbered. Our data shows otherwise. Swift is one of the fastest-growing skills in history on our platforms -- with consistent growth of more than 100 percent each month and 160 percent growth in December 2014 alone. We predict that the use of Swift will surpass that of Objective C in 2015 -- just one year after it was launched.
2. Everyone will live large with their own virtual assistant. There are currently 1.5 million virtual assistants registered across and (Elance-oDesk) -- a number equal to the population of Phoenix. Virtual assistants earned $50 million in 2014, and as one of the fastest-growing positions hired on Elance-oDesk, that number is expected to increase by 50 percent in 2015.
3. Virtual agencies will surpass the number of traditional agencies. The soaring cost of maintaining a physical office is causing agencies to move online. Improvements in project management, communication tools and a flexible work environment will enable virtual agencies to flourish. Virtual agencies span a range of focuses, but design led the way (with 15,000 agencies on Elance-oDesk's sites and more than $75 million in earnings), followed by software development (11,000 agencies, $159 million in earnings), marketing (3,000 agencies, $13.1 million in earnings) and translation (2,500 agencies, $11.2 million in earnings).
4. Freelance management will become a core skill. As the talent gap for technical skills increases, standout professionals will be those who are adept at managing freelancers and distributed team members. Developers on Elance-oDesk earned more than $486 million last year (the largest category of online work). These engineers are some of the best in the world, and companies that learn to tap into them will increase the speed and quality in which their new products are launched.
5. Neighborhood accounting will go by way of the bookstore. Accountants can now look beyond their backyard for clients without actually leaving the premises, and on the flip side businesses have a much easier time finding these same accountants by hiring online. Accounting on Elance-oDesk alone is growing at 40 percent, and we expect this number to increase as cloud-based accounting platforms like Xero take off.
6. Chinese-to-English translation will outpace English-to-Chinese for the first time in history. As their domestic economy stagnates, Chinese businesses are looking to U.S. and Western European markets for growth. Translators who serve this market are in high-demand, growing over 50 percent in the second half of 2014 and making it to the top 10 list of language translation requests.
7. World-class customer service will be the norm, not just for the Fortune 1000. With increased adoption of cloud-based customer service tools and a larger-than-ever pool of premium freelance customer service professionals, 24/7 customer support will be achievable for all businesses, not just the Fortune 1000. In 2014, customer service agents were the fastest-growing position on Elance-oDesk (92 percent growth), and Zendesk was one of the fastest-growing skills hired for (with 145 percent year-over-year growth in 2014).

Elance-oDesk Online Work Report 2014 Highlights
A record amount of freelance work happened in 2014. The reports show that:

  • Businesses in the U.S. alone spent $604 million hiring freelancers online -- a 30 percent year-over-year increase from 2013.
  • By the close of 2014, Elance-oDesk's community crossed the 13.5 million mark (with 3.8 million businesses and 9.7 million freelancers).
  • Technology continues as the largest category of online work (at 50 percent of spend). Spread to other categories is fueling online work adoption, however. The four fastest-growing categories are: 1) Mobile, 2) Sales and Marketing, 3) Admin Support and 4) Writing and Translation.

Data Source Information
Unless noted otherwise, all data is sourced from the combined and databases and covers the time period from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014. For more on the reports, contact

About Elance-oDesk
Elance-oDesk is creating the world's largest online workplaces. Cumulatively, 3.8 million businesses and 9.7 million freelancers have tapped into and to access talent via the Internet.

As an increasingly connected and independent workforce goes online, talent -- like software, shopping and communications before it -- is shifting to the cloud. This shift is making it faster and easier for businesses to hire for the skills they need, when they need them, while freeing professionals from set time and place work.

Freelancers are earning more than $940 million annually via Elance and oDesk. Elance-oDesk is headquartered in Mountain View, California, with offices in San Francisco, California, and Oslo, Norway.