oDesk is a company with a global job marketplace and a series of tools targeted at businesses that intend to hire and manage remote workers. Based in Redwood City, CA, oDesk was founded in 2003 by Greek entrepreneurs Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis.
oDesk is the largest among a number of companies, including Elance, Freelancer, Guru, PeoplePerHour, vWorker (formerly Rent A Coder) and Nubelo, that create marketplaces in which independent contractors and their clients can contact one another. These sites often manage the payments, and make money by charging membership fees and/or take a cut of the payment. The cuts can range from 4 percent to 15 percent. oDesk charges 10% but does not charge a membership fee.
oDesk allows clients to create online workteams coordinated and paid through the company's proprietary software and website. The name is a short version of "online desk" in reference to the company's intent to enable anyone to work anywhere, anytime. Prospective clients can post jobs for free, and freelance workers (“contractors”) may create profiles and bid on jobs, also for free. The company collects 10 percent of the payment. Payments are made through oDesk, which handles many bookkeeping tasks for the transaction. In addition to the marketplace aspect and the payment/bookkeeping services, the company uses collaborative software, “oDesk Team,” that allows clients to see a provider's progress while he or she is billing time.
The company describes itself as an online workplace. As of Jan. 10, 2009, the company reports that nearly 37,000 of its 170,000 providers are in the United States. The company's site is entirely in English, and all transactions are made in U.S. dollars. The site does not post statistics regarding locations of buyer companies. In December 2009, the company's self-reported tally of services paid through its site had passed $113 million.
The specific areas of expertise supported by the site include web development and a wide variety of programming/software development skills, graphic design, writing and administrative support. The company provides voluntary skills tests in various disciplines from English aptitude to specific programming skills, and profiles include a feedback mechanism.
oDesk has raised four rounds of financing. The first was by Globespan Capital and Sigma Partners. The second round was raised in September 2006, led by Benchmark Capital and included the previous two investors. The third round was raised in May 2008, led by DAG Ventures and included the previous three investors.
The most recent round was announced in March 2012. Certain investment strategies managed by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. led the round, with participation from Benchmark Capital, Globespan Capital Partners and Sigma Partners. 
The venture investors on oDesk's board include Greg Gretsch, Venky Ganesan, and Kevin Harvey.
The company's oDesk team software increases transparency and allows a client to have confidence in the billing done by a contractor whom the buyer may never have met and who may be half a world away. In an October 2008 interview with website Web Worker Daily, CEO Gary Swart said the work diaries “give buyers unprecedented visibility into work performed,” and that the Team software's “hassle-free tracking guarantees convenient, safe, and accurate billing for all work performed.”
- SAMCEDA Innovation & Entrepreneurship Awards - 2011 Fastest Growing Innovator Award of Excellence 
- 2011 AlwaysOn OnDemand 100 
- oDesk ranked #286 on the 2010 Inc. 500, and #110 in 2009 
- Silicon Valley Business Journal Fastest Growing Private Company List (2010) 
- San Francisco Business Times Fastest Growing Companies List (2010) 
- TechCrunch50 DemoPit Winner (2010) 
- Silicon Valley Business Journal Emerging Technology Award (2009) 
- Silicon Valley Business Journal Fastest Growing Private Company List (2009) 
- International Association of Outsourcing Professionals 2009 Global Outsourcing 100 Rising Star 
- Deloitte Technology Fast 500 
- Finalist in PC Magazine’s 2006 Small Business Awards
- oDesk is named Rising Star in Deloitte's Technology Fast 500 Program.
- Finalist for the "Red Herring 100 Global" Awards 2007 and 2009.
- 2011 TiE50 Internet/Social Networking Winner of TiE50 Awards Program.
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- ^ 2007 Technology Fast 500
- ^ Finalists for the "Red Herring 100 Global" Awards 2007
- ^ 2011 TiE50 Internet/Social Networking Winner