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Is Odesk in trouble

Is Odesk in trouble?

By BloggerKhan

My profession is Management and Marketing and it revolves around outsourcing, ecommerce and marketing on the internet. Wise men say identify what you are passionate about and then see if ...

By BloggerKhan

Posted in , | Tags : , , , , , , ,

Is Odesk in trouble?

For a while Odesk grew rapidly as an outsourcing portal. In Dec 2013, Odesk
merged with Elance. For reasons best known to them, the joint company decided to
keep the two units operating independently. It seems the Odesk management
team’s total focus was to grow to a level that they get acquired and they
succeeded in that. Once that objective was achieved, it seems the Odesk
operational team lost interest and Odesk has been in a steady state of decay
ever since.

We have been both a client and an outsourcing agency on Odesk for a while. We
provided design and development services for clients and we also hired on Odesk
where we were short on resources. We used Odesk exclusively for quite a while
till the red flags started popping up. Here are our observations:

  1. Refusing to address fake / spam job posts:
    As an outsourcing company, we look at new jobs being posted and if it is
    relevant to us, we apply. It’s unusual to see the same job being posted
    again and again. It’s extremely irregular to see a whole block of jobs –
    like 10 jobs at a time – to be repeated several times a day. So we decided
    to investigate and we noticed certain patterns and URLs in such jobs. See
    picture:Is odesk in trouble, the dark side of Odesk

    As you can see with a very minor code adjustment, Odesk can filter out such
    posts  where a URL and an email is mentioned. Yet they don’t. I keep
    sending them such screenshots. They say they have forwarded them to
    engineering but then nothing happens. Are they deliberately allowing such
    stuffing? That would be inflating your data. Hmmm!

  2. Dispute Resolution:
    Disputes invariably arise between clients and freelancers. The job of a
    portal is to use their good offices to help resolve if possible. In theory
    Odesk does that too. Yet they don’t accept telephone calls and they don’t make
    telephone calls. Only email is allowed. The people they have in that
    department are either the rejects of the company or brain dead. They take
    days to respond and even when they do, it seems they never read the points you
    mentioned to them the last time. It’s like sending emails to a wall. It
    becomes a waste of energy. You are better off closing your account and
    moving on. The worst part is, if you write to their higher ups, nobody
    responds. We have sent letters, faxes and voice mails to their joint CEO
    now, Fabio Rosati but no response. Talk about customer service.
  3. Unsafe for agencies / I.T. Companies:
    Most of today’s smart applications and websites require multiple skills and
    cannot be handled by a single freelancer. That’s where I.T. outsourcing
    companies called ‘Agencies’ by Odesk come in handy.
    Agencies like us have
    multiple skilled resources and are in a better position to handle complex
    tasks, big or small. There is a serious flaw in Odesk’s operations – an
    agencies contractor can refund a client any amount of money without the
    agency manager’s authorization. We have tried our best to make Odesk aware
    of this. At first their staff themselves cannot understand that this is
    possible. When we prove it to them that this is not only possible, but has
    happened when a rogue contractor decides to hurt the agency by doing such
    refunds. When they finally understand how this is possible, they refuse to
    do anything about it. Their answer is, this how it is, if you want to
    operate on Odesk, you’ll have to live with it. It’s just the risk of doing
    business on Odesk. How irresponsible! It’s like a bank letting anyone from your
    company writing checks – even past employees – authorized or not. Hard to believe they would let
    this happen. Yet we have learnt the hard way that that’s how it is on Odesk.
    If you are an I.T. Company, you may not want to operate on Odesk till Odesk
    decides to fix this huge security hole. Right now they refuse to even
    acknowledge that this is a flaw. I guess they are waiting for a lawsuit as
    sooner or later that’s going to happen.
  4. Odesk Timeout:
    See this picture. This is a very common picture we see on our screens when
    we try to reach the Odesk website. I am sure others see the same. We started
    reporting them and nothing happened. So we started sending them
    snapshots. Now they acknowledge but the same thing keeps happening again and
    again. It seems their engineering is over their head and are unable to
    handle new technologies.Is odesk in trouble, the dark side of Odesk
  5. Doing nothing about Affiliate spam: See picture. We get such emails through the Odesk email system all week long
    stuffing our mail boxes. Odesk can easily filter these out yet they don’t.
    Maybe they don’t care.

    Is odesk in trouble, the dark side of Odesk

Maybe keeping the Odesk and Elance platforms independent is not such a good
idea. Maybe they should merge the two operations and adopt the Elance platform
which seems better suited for a more secure and efficient environment. At a time
when their strongest competitor
freelancer is
making significant acquisitions and growing rapidly, it seems Odesk is
stumbling. It’s very unfortunate because for quite some time, it was our
platform of choice. I guess all good things eventually come to an end.



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