Just before the start of the holiday season last year Elance and oDesk, two of the largest online marketplaces for freelancers, announced they were merging.

oDesk has 5 million registered freelancers  and Elance has 3.5 million plus freelancers.

What the two CEO’s are saying

According to Fabio Rosati and Gary Swart, the Elance and oDesk CEO’s respectively, despite the amalgamation, the companies will continue to operate as two different websites ‘for now’.  As per the two gentlemen, the merger will create synergies and improve the general user experience. For instance, daily job recommendations for your freelance profile will become more precise.

While Rosati becomes the CEO of the amalgamated company, Swart takes over the role of strategic financial advisor.

Skepticism from freelancers on both platforms

This does not mean that freelancers have bought into the story.  There are obvious differences in functioning of Elance and oDesk and so the amalgamation has been a matter of great debate in various freelance jobs forums.  A blog post on Elance announcing the change, received comments that did little to hide the displeasure of freelancers on the merging of the two online marketplaces. No one has probably captured the real essence of the merger better than Carol Tice at Make a Living Writing.

Overall, Elance is considered to be a more mature freelancing platform. Majority of the freelancers who use Elance think the merger marks the end of professionalism and higher-paying projects that is associated with the portal. Many veteran freelancers view oDesk as a ‘sweatshop’ of freelance work, owing to the relatively low-paying projects posted on the website. The main concerns from oDesk users include the intensifying of competition and that the website will start charging monthly membership fees like Elance presently does.

So, what does the merger mean for you as a freelancer?

The merger will take four months  to complete. At this particular moment, there is really no telling how the merger will affect our freelancing careers. As long as Elance and oDesk continue to function as different platforms there should not be much to worry about. When the two companies fully merge their resources and technologies, it could significantly improve the experience of looking for well-paying freelancing writing jobs. For now all we can do is speculate and hope that the end result will be better clients, lower project fees and fatter wallets!

What do you think? Will it be business as usual? Do share your comments in the box below.