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Human cloud spend at $126 billion in US; report lists largest B2B firms

September 11, 2019

Human cloud firms, electronic labor platforms and related business models processed $126.3 billion in spend globally with business-to-consumer focused firms — such as Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE:  UBER) and Lyft Inc. (NASDAQ: LYFT) — generating the lion’s share of revenue, according to a new report by Staffing Industry Analysts.

The Gig Economy and Human Cloud Landscape: 2019 Update” by Brian Wallins, research manager at SIA found that B2C human cloud revenue rose 45% in 2018 while revenue at business-to-business focused firms rose 22%. B2B-focused firms include Upwork Inc. (NASDAQ: UPWK), MBO Partners and Fiverr International Ltd. (NYSE: FVRR).

It lists the five largest B2B platforms by gross spend:

  1. Upwork
  2. MBO Partners
  3. Gerson Lehrman Group
  4. Fiverr
  5. Axiom

“Although Uber was founded a little more than a decade ago, the B2B side of the human cloud is just beginning to grow at scale,” Wallins said. “Enterprise adoption may serve as a catalyst for the next leg of growth, as digital platforms strive to overcome cultural barriers and satisfy compliance standards within large organizations.”

The human cloud is a topic of discussion today at the Collaboration in the Gig Economy conference in San Diego.

As SIA defines the term “human cloud,” it included all types of online, digital work marketplaces and related business models.

In comparison, SIA defines “gig economy” as all types of contingent work, including the human cloud, temporary agency work, independent contractors, statement-of-work consulting and other temporary workers.

The report breaks the human cloud down into three segments: Online staffing platforms, online work services and crowdsourcing.

Examples of online staffing include firms such as Upwork and Toptal; examples of online work services include firms such as Uber, Lyft and Handy; and examples of crowdsourcing include firms such as Amazon.com Inc.’s Mechanical Turk and Gigwalk.

About 75% of B2B human cloud transactions entail IT and creative job categories

While double-digit growth is foreseen for the B2B human cloud, not all firms may benefit.

“A broad range of secular tailwinds are conducive for sustained double-digit growth for the B2B human cloud. However, we do not envision a rising tide raising all ships scenario to continue to persist, due in part to strong network effects of top performing platforms,” according to the report.

One note on the report: It did not include electronic platform revenue from operations at traditional staffing firms in cases where revenue from existing staffing operations may have been reclassified as human cloud revenue. If a traditional staffing firm started a separate, human cloud venture, then revenue from that would be included in the report.

Separately, the report indicated 14% of traditional staffing firms are either currently partnering with a human cloud firm or own or have invested in a human cloud service. Another 30% were considering building, acquiring or partnering with one over the next two years.

The report is available online to SIA corporate members.


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