Tuesday, May 17, 2022

A New Freelance Platform For Teams | The Startup Layoff Wave | Do You ‘Slack-splain’?


Happy almost-almost summer week, everyone. If only we were all Goldman Sachs senior partners about to get unlimited vacation. This week in Forbes Careers: 

–A new freelance platform for teams, backed by Jay-Z's VC arm and Adam Grant

–The startup layoff wave

–Do you "Slack-splain?"

Here at Forbes Careers, we've written a lot about the gig economy, side hustles and the freelance platforms that cater to them. We've written about Fiverr. We've profiled Upwork and its CEO, Hayden Brown. We've chronicled how fast these platforms have grown, how to hire the best freelancers using these platforms and how they provide a window into the future of work.

But as the freelance workforce continues to grow—with no signs of easing—new startups are finding new ways to tap into this booming market. My colleague Emmy Lucas wrote this morning about A.Team, which is coming out of stealth mode with a $55 million Series A funding round, led by VC firms Tiger Global Management, Insight Partners and Spruce Capital Partners. Other advisers and investors include leadership guru Adam Grant, Jay-Z's Roc Nation VC arm and the former founders or CEOs of Fiverr and Upwork themselves, Shai Wininger and Stephane Kasriel.

Rather than provide yet another freelance platform designed for individuals, A.Team is designed for teams. Like a Hollywood producer that brings a cast and crew together for a film, Forbes reports, A.Team's business model matches top-tier talent—users must be vetted—with worthy projects. 

"The problem with people trying to leave companies and choose their own destiny is that there's nothing out there to support them," Ouzan told Lucas. "Fiverr and Upwork are great if you want to get an extra income on the side, but it's certainly not the path of self-actualization for the highly skilled, high-wage professional."

It's an interesting approach that could have real currency in the unfolding shift toward what might be called the project economy. Having a team-based approach will add value to a model that too often means pedestrian-level work and sifting through an unvetted mass of freelancers with varying levels of skills and experience. Yet while some professionals will go completely out on their own, untethering themselves from corporate employment, some companies like Unilever are already trying to offer employees more project-based work that lets them step in and out of assignments for different periods of time. We're only going to see more startups, more trends and more corporate models in this space. 

Jena McGregor

Jena McGregor

Senior Editor, Careers and Leadership Strategy

Wave Of Layoffs At Startups Foretell A Slow Summer For Venture Investing
Wave Of Layoffs At Startups Foretell A Slow Summer For Venture Investing

Among startups, there were more firings in the first two weeks of May than in any full month since January 2021, while more than half the companies in an internal poll of Andreessen Horowitz's portfolio say they're pulling back on 2022 hiring. Read our full story here.

Read The Full Story →


Work Smarter

Negotiating under pressure or stress? Here are tips for success.

How to protect yourself in a recession—and watch for the red flags that may mean you're in line for a layoff.

Want to retain your best people? Here's how to conduct a proper "stay" interview.

Five ways your lack of confidence is showing—and hurting you

Make "
boomerang" hires successful with these key tips

On Our Agenda

Carvana hits the brakes: The used car platform, led by billionaire Ernest Garcia III, cut 2,500 employees last week in layoffs that went viral on social media, partly because many workers reportedly heard the news via Zoom. Our contributors shared why virtual firings in our remote world don't necessarily need to lack compassion, and how firing people via Zoom can create new crises for companies that are already in one.

Not all tech firms are freezing hiring and doing layoffs: We've been hearing more about job cuts and hiring freezes at a range of startups and tech companies. But for now at least, the spread seems contained to startups and tech. "We are not seeing that whatsoever," Megan Slabinski, a district president for Robert Half International in Seattle, told me in an interview last week. Slabinski works on recruiting for tech companies and technology jobs in other industries, and told me she's "continuing to see pent up demand in technology positions across every industry." At Microsoft, the tech giant has plans to "nearly double" its salary budget and boost stock compensation by at least 25%, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, all part of an effort to retain people and help with inflation.

Quotas no more: A Superior Court of California judge struck down a state law that required companies in the state to include women on their boards of directors, saying the 2018 law violated the equal protection clause of the state's constitution. Forbes contributor Michael Peregrine writes that while the decision means other state mandates are also at risk, it shouldn't be seen as a threat to board diversity, which has been steadily improving, if slowly, for years. Meanwhile, Forbes contributor Corinne Post writes about how the loss of board quotas could impact workplace equality.

New Yorkers get a salary peek: On May 12, New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed into law a requirement that most employers include the minimum and maximum salary for positions in job postings beginning in November. While the law had originally been scheduled to take effect in May, it was recently delayed, and those changes could be good for everyone, writes Forbes senior contributor Tom Spiggle.

Do you "Slack-splain?" To prevent confusion or misunderstanding when it comes to workplace messaging apps, many employees over-communicate to clarify tone, according to a new survey by Loom, a video messaging app. The report, which will be released Thursday, seems aimed at highlighting why video might be a better alternative. But we've also all been there, saying a bit more to make sure we don't send the wrong, well, message in a work message (or inserting a smiley 😊or cringe 😬emoji to help). Now, there's just a name for it.

Book Club

The team behind Slack's Future Forum—a consortium aimed at sharing practices on the future of work—is out with How the Future Works: Leading Flexible Teams To Do The Best Work of Their Lives. Intended as a "how-to guide," it uses original research from the consortium, with case studies from companies such as Levi Strauss & Co., Genentech and IBM about how they're making the workplace work today.


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