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Freelancer.com snaps up Canadian site in global growth strategy

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

Australian start-up success story Freelancer.com has added another company to its portfolio, acquiring Canadian freelance marketplace Scriptlance, as it seeks to enhance its global presence.


Freelancer.com is a global outsourcing marketplace, founded in 2009 by tech entrepreneur Matt Barrie, who has confirmed the acquisition of Scriptlance for an undisclosed sum.


Based in Toronto, Scriptlance is Canada’s largest freelance marketplace and the fifth largest in the world, with more than 360,000 enterprise and professional users.


It was incorporated in 2001 as R3N3 International Inc. by Canadian tech entrepreneur René Trescases, who was 20 years old at the time.


Scriptlance is considered one of the early pioneers in the online outsourcing industry. The site now has users in more than 240 countries, regions and territories globally.


To date, Scriptlance has posted in excess of 600,000 projects, with more than US$43 million paid out to freelancers by Trescases and his team.


“There’s half a dozen in the Scriptlance team that will be staying on. Rene will be pursuing new opportunities however,” Barrie told StartupSmart.


“We are tremendously excited to acquire Scriptlance, which is truly one of the great trailblazers and most widely recognised brands in the online outsourcing industry.”


“Today we launch in Canada, and we couldn’t think of a better way to announce this than by buying one of Canada’s top technology websites.”


Trescases said in a statement Scriptlance is “thrilled to be joining forces with the global leader in the [online outsourcing] space”.


“Selling to Freelancer made a lot of sense for us – they have the number one brand and the best scale and geographic reach of anyone in the industry,” Trescases said.


According to Barrie, Scriptlance will be incorporated under the Freelancer brand, as the site seeks to step up its presence on a global scale.


Scriptlance joins a long list of previous acquisitions by Freelancer, including GetAFreelancer (Sweden), LimeExchange  (United States), Freelancer.co.uk (United Kingdom), Freelancer.de Booking Center (Germany), Freelancer.com.au (Australia) and Freelancer Hong Kong (China).


Other acquisitions include virtual content marketplace Freemarket.com (US) and the Webmaster Talk forums (US).


The acquisition of Scriptlance puts Freelancer firmly in front as the world’s largest outsourcing marketplace. With more than four million users, Freelancer’s user base is now more than 2.5 times larger than that of its nearest competitors.


To date, more than 2.3 million projects have been posted on Freelancer. Users can hire and transact in 11 currencies.


Barrie says Freelancer will consider further acquisitions “if the price is right and the businesses are aligned”, but it’s unlikely it will look at many Australian companies.


“There’s a couple of interesting businesses but we doubt they would make sense financially,” he says.