Merger mania: Odesk, Elance tie the knot, while Inspirato snaps up rival Portico

It happened not once, but twice on Wednesday: A Silicon Valley company announced a big merger, and I thought, “Hey, I know that guy.”

First, workforce-for-hire marketplaces Elance and oDesk announced that they were tying the knot. oDesk CEO Gary Swart, who joined the fledgling in 2005 and has grown it to more than 4 million registered freelancers, is turning over the reins to Elance boss Fabio Rosati, who’ll lead the combined company once the deal closes.

Swart and I sat down a few months back, and the IBM and Pure Software veteran sounded justifiably proud of having built up a service that’s helped employers keep costs low while offering worker bees more freedom over their schedules.  Maybe he’ll use oDesk to line up his next gig. (OK, maybe not.)

Inspirato co-founder Brad Handler

Brad Handler

Shortly after that news broke, I read that Inspirato — the luxury lodging startup launched by early eBay exec Brad Handler and his brother, Brent — had done a big deal of its own. The company bought rival Portico from Exclusive Resorts — which the Handlers founded in 2004, then sold to AOL co-founder Steve Case. What goes around comes around in the tech industry.

I emailed Brad Handler my congratulations, to which he replied: “”Big move for us, but we are still in the first inning.”


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  • Can this knot do good for the contractors who are looking for freelancers to manage abstract jobs like statistical analysis? Well, it is still not known as most freelance sites on the web don’t have such expertise, except some like Statlance.