During the coronavirus pandemic, many workers — especially those who had the opportunity to work remotely — saw an opportunity to build a freelance side hustle. They took it in spades.
Last year, Upwork commissioned a study from independent research firm Edelman Intelligence about the state of freelancing. It found that 59 million Americans, or 36% of the country’s workforce, had done freelance work within the last year.
Workers are happy about it, too. According to the study, 88% of independent contractors who paused their freelancing work are likely to freelance again in the future, and 86% of all freelancers feel that the best days are still to come for the gig economy.
This group is likely to get bigger. In August, Upwork released findings from a new report, “The Great Resignation: From Full-Time to Freelance,” which explored why Americans are leaving full-time jobs. It found that 20% of Americans are considering freelance work to work remotely and gain flexibility.
That’s good news for Upwork.
What Is Upwork?
Upwork is a digital, freelance-focused jobs platform on which clients and workers can connect about specific individual projects. Small businesses and Fortune 100 firms alike can find a freelancer with any of over 10,000 skills, including web design, computer programming, e-commerce development, writing, user experience, finance, customer support, social media management, search engine optimization and more.
How Does It Work?
On Upwork, clients can post their jobs and immediately begin receiving proposals from qualified freelancers. Clients will see freelancer ratings, workload level and earnings.
For their part, freelancers have a chance to review the assignment’s scope and potential earnings. Once a client and freelancer agree to the terms of their contract, the client can place the payment in escrow on the site.
Freelancers can also get the ball rolling by creating projects and marketing them to clients.
Once the client and the freelancer commit, Upwork automatically generates a workspace for the job. There’s a Files & Links section for file sharing and the main module with several tabs — Milestones & Payments, Messages & Files, Terms & Settings and Feedback. Clients also have a button for Pay Now, Give Bonus and Cancel Contract.
How Much Is Upwork Worth?
As of Nov. 15, Upwork’s share price is $45.87, giving the company a current market capitalization of about $5.855 billion. The company’s net worth, calculated by subtracting its liabilities from its assets, is $299.31 million.
A Volatile Year for Upwork Stock
Upwork’s stock has fluctuated extensively throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and it remains volatile.
Shares, which had been on a downward trend since March 2019, reached an all-time low of $5.40 in March 2020, as lockdowns and closures began. However, the stock began to recover almost immediately. Shares are up 54.91% over the last year and 37.63% since the beginning of the year.
A recent analysis by Yahoo Finance reported that 9.26% of the company is still owned by insiders, such as Upwork employees. That figure is virtually unchanged since July. Although some insiders have been selling the stock, the fact that many are still holding it is generally viewed as a positive sign.
Is Upwork Stock a Good Buy?
Four of six analysts polled by Yahoo Finance rate Upwork a “buy” or “strong buy,” resulting in a consensus recommendation rating of 1.6, with 1 being a “strong buy” and 5 being a “sell.” Analysts’ low price target of $55 is well above the stock’s current $45.69 share price. The average target price is $65.75.
How and Where To Buy Upwork Stock
Upwork shares (UPWK) are available on stock exchanges — in full form and in some cases as fractional shares, depending on the institution you use to buy stocks. You can purchase stocks in a standard brokerage account and, in some cases, an individual retirement account, too.
The Great Unknown: What Will Corporate Employers Do?
Large corporate employers have left a lot on the table in the past few decades. As costs have risen — from housing to necessities like groceries — corporate employees have endured plenty of struggle. They’ve also had plenty of time to realize that most employers haven’t done enough to help. A recent study about mindset at work in 2021, which was conducted by Zeno Group, revealed that 54% of employees believe that now’s the time for companies to make major changes to the workplace for the sake of employees.
According to Upwork’s “Future Workforce Pulse Report,” released on Sept. 29, permanent changes brought about by remote work during the pandemic are well underway, although not necessarily for employees’ sake. For one, business use of freelancers has dramatically increased because of the pandemic and will continue to rise in the future. Fifty-three percent of the businesses surveyed said that remote work has made them more likely to use freelancers, and 71% of hiring managers plan to maintain or increase their use of freelancers in the next six months.
Although Upwork is up against some fierce competition from companies like LinkedIn, Fiverr and FlexJobs, its longtime focus on what workers want positions it well. It knows what corporate employers didn’t seem to know or didn’t want to acknowledge — that it was only a matter of time before technology would make it possible for people to choose remote work and grow their incomes.
Good To Know
LinkedIn recently launched its Services Marketplace to connect providers and buyers. Since launching its beta program in March, Services Marketplace has picked up two million providers. It’s something to watch as the competition for gig workers increases.
Another development to watch for is the potential that the gig economy may face more regulation in the months and years ahead. At both the national and state level, a desire is brewing among some legislators to influence gig economy hiring and management practices.
Daria Uhlig contributed to the reporting for this article.
Data is accurate as of Nov. 15, 2021, and subject to change.