Freelancers are multiculturals who do not want to be pigeon-holed.

Freelancers are multiculturals who do not want to be pigeon-holed.

At Marmalade AI, a pre-seed startup, our basic idea was to create a virtual network. Why? Well, our watch word is to be “accurate, automatic, and appropriate.” Notice that does not include whether you actually know the person or not. That’s the old model. In the virtual approach, it’s not who you know anymore.

When we set out to model tech freelancers (especially tech freelancers), one thing that quickly became apparent was that a person’s work and education background were sort of irrelevant. People – especially tech freelancers – describe interests and expertise in their profiles, because that is what they will be hired for.

At the same time, another thing that became evident in looking at tech freelancer profiles was that this is a young, multicultural demographic. Yes, there are older freelancers, too. The tendency, however, is for a 30-something group in areas like digital marketing, machine learning, and UX design. These are specialists; not generalists. A freelancer can do in a fraction of the time what a generalist could do.

This group of younger freelancers is very attuned to avoiding bias. Their sense of self values expertise. They not only would prefer to not be corporate. They actually are living after the “hire people you know” era. In that era, people hired people they knew into their companies. Not so with freelancers.

What about two-sided freelancing marketplaces? It turns out they are really one-sided. They’re a platform for corporate buyers to find freelancers by testing, pre-qualifying, or otherwise vetting them, but in the process it puts the freelancer into a silo.

Of course, this is what the corporate buyers are paying the “two-sided” platform to do. And as a freelancer, you sort of have to be there, because everybody else is there. What choice do you have?

Interestingly, the data show that the younger the developer, the shorter the stay in a given company – almost like freelancers – down to 1.5 years for people in their twenties. See “Younger engineers > less time in a company”. It looks like there is less and less distance between younger employees and freelancers.