⌨️ LinkedIn’s gig marketplace


February 22, 2021

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Caliber

Stripe is finalizing a funding round that will reportedly value the fintech startup at $100B. For one of our Vietnamese-Canadian writers (we won’t say who), a related news story is even more noteworthy.

Mark Carney — the former governor of the Bank of England AND Bank of Canada 🇨🇦 — will join Stripe’s board.

The Big Idea
recruiter

LinkedIn is building a gig marketplace. What you need to know.

People love trolling LinkedIn.

The Microsoft-owned social network is an endless source of recruiting messages, corny inspirational posts, and voicemails from Jimmy.

Even so, its business is no joke: LinkedIn has 740m users and its revenue — from memberships, subscriptions, and job ads — hit $8.8B in 2020.

Now, LinkedIn wants to roll out a gig marketplace…

… called, err, Marketplace, per The Information.

The service is similar to platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork, which host freelance work from web design to home repair and make money by taking a cut (13%-27%) of the job.

LinkedIn’s offering will focus on white-collar work such as consulting, marketing, and writing. This is an extension of how the Marketplace project started in October 2019, when Microsoft acquired parts of UpCounsel, a startup that matches lawyers with small businesses.

Combined revenue for Fiverr and Upwork hit $550m in 2020

This is a drop in the bucket for LinkedIn.

However, The Information notes that Marketplace is more than just a revenue-generating opportunity:

  • Microsoft is working on a digital wallet to work across many of its services, and a gig platform will be a good use case for it.
  • The digital wallet will be a source of funds to help grow LinkedIn’s paid content network, where users can subscribe and tip content creators who bring them value.

The jury is still out on Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn

It cost the Redmond-based software giant $26.2B in 2016. And LinkedIn’s revenue growth has slowed from 86% in 2012 to 20% in 2020, per The Information.

Microsoft tried to acquire high-growth business lines in separate deals for TikTok and Pinterest, but neither materialized.

While Marketplace will give more surface area for Jimmy to reach out to people, the reality is that moving the needle on Microsoft’s $143B in revenue is a tall order.

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Snippets
  • Google fires a top AI ethics researcher: Margaret Mitchell founded the search giant’s AI ethics team and was forced out after she came to the defense of another researcher — Timnit Gebru — who left in a cloud of controversy in December.
  • What’s Up with WhatsApp: If users don’t agree to WhatsApp’s new privacy policy by March 15, they will have limited service and their account will be deleted by May 15. The app will allow the export of chat histories before that date.
  • ‘Doctor, we need help’: IBM’s Watson blew our mind when it dominated past “Jeopardy!” champs. That may be a highlight for the AI machine as IBM is looking to unload its Watson Health business, which was supposed to help cure cancer.
  • Uber takes an L in the UK, where the country’s supreme court just ruled that Uber’s drivers are workers and not “contractors.”
  • Bank on it: Brex — the corporate card startup — applied for a bank charter and has tapped a former Silicon Valley Bank exec to run it.
Q&A
Matt Barnes headshot

Former NBA Champ Matt Barnes is helping minority entrepreneurs thrive in the cannabis industry

Matt Barnes spent 14 years in the NBA, including a championship season with the Golden State Warriors. Since retiring in 2017, he’s been an active entrepreneur in the cannabis space.

He recently partnered with Eaze — California’s largest marketplace for legal cannabis — on the company’s Momentum program, a business accelerator for Black and brown cannabis entrepreneurs that includes a $50k grant for 10 recipients.

The Hustle recently spoke with Barnes to find out more:

What’s your background in the cannabis industry?

I’ve been a cannabis user since I was 14-years-old. However, I never realized the benefits during my teen years.

I’m not a drinker and don’t take prescription drugs but — during my playing career — cannabis really helped me tough through.

In my post-career years, I’ve worked with my alma mater UCLA and the NBA players’ association to explain the benefits of cannabis use.

What will you be doing with the Eaze Momentum program?

I’m trying to help open doors for Black and brown cannabis founders. I’ve personally been affected by the war on drugs, with my father going to prison for dealing.

With the [cannabis] industry booming, I want to make sure people of color can be involved and build successful businesses.

Is there a specific skill or lesson you are teaching the Momentum participants?

It’s really everything.

We’ve had situations before where minorities were awarded licences but not schooled on how to actually run a business. When this happens, they end up not building something sustainable and the license is taken back.

What is a major challenge in the industry?

Cannabis entrepreneurs need to be able to bank securely. Hopefully, they can pass a bill so that banks will be open to the industry.

Who’s the GOAT: Michael Jordan or Tom Brady?

Brady did win 7, but he also lost a few [Super Bowls]. MJ has 6 rings and went 6-0 in the NBA Finals. I gotta go with Mike.

(Read the full Q&A here)

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Caliber is a pretty unique opportunity — just check out their numbers:

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Small Business Feature
Adam Shlomi headshot

This entrepreneur built a $1m SAT-tutoring business from his bed

Tutoring is in Adam Shlomi’s blood.

In high school, the South Florida native and recent Georgetown grad taught others the secrets of the SAT and continued to do so on the side for years.

So it’s not surprising that when Shlomi suffered an injury in college that left him bored and bedridden for months, he made it his business (literally) to start the online service SoFlo SAT Tutoring.

At first, it was just him

But as positive early reviews poured in from his strong network of students and parents, Shlomi found himself setting up QuickBooks and hiring 100 tutors to keep up with demand.

Today, Shlomi told The Hustle, his goal is to “develop new client acquisition funnels to power growth.” One funnel leads to Shlomi’s cell, where he talks to potential clients directly.

Ironically, if SoFlo does its job, customers leave

So Shlomi makes their short lifetime value worthwhile by keeping customer retention high with charismatic tutors and by experimenting with new products and services.

A 30% dip in demand for SAT prep brought on by COVID could prove challenging, but the company’s growth doesn’t seem to reflect that: Revenue and profit grew by 600% in 2020 and Shlomi is expecting to 3x that in 2021.

And don’t worry about Shlomi solving a challenging problem — he scored a 1570 on the SAT.

Founder: Adam Shlomi

Number of Employees: 3 administrators and 100 tutors

Year of launch: 2019

Cost to launch: $1k

Funding methods: Boot-strapped

1st-year revenue: $150k

Current annual revenue: $1m

Want your company featured? Fill out our SMB survey. See financials on hundreds of companies by subscribing to Trends.

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Meme of the day
Nyan Cat

Nyan Cat (Source: YouTube)

In 2011, Chris Torres created Nyan Cat. It’s an animation of a cat with a Pop Tart and… (well, pls just look at the pic above).

The graphic has become a popular meme.

Well, over the weekend, a digital work of art based on Torres’ work sold for 300 Ether (~$590k) on a newly launched crypto art platform called Foundation.

The sale is the latest in the “non-fungible token” (NFT) craze, which is seeing digital assets built on top of the blockchain accrue significant value. We detailed NFTs in a previous write-up on NBA Top Shot — a digital card trading platform that has exploded in popularity:

  • “Pre-blockchain, the creation of digital collectibles was a challenge.

Launched in 2017 at the height of Bitcoin mania, CryptoKitties (a game in which users buy, sell, and collect virtual cats) became the busiest address on the Ethereum platform — and demonstrated, for the first time, how the blockchain could power a digital collectibles market.

Generally, digital goods are easy to copy (think MP3s) and have no reproduction costs. As a result, it’s difficult to: 1) claim ownership over them, and 2) create value through scarcity.

Because a blockchain is a decentralized immutable record, a digital asset can actually be assigned ownership to a single entity. In industry parlance, this creates what is known as a non-fungible token (NFT).”

Missed the Nyan Cat sale? Christie’s is auctioning off an NFT-based artwork from digital artist Beeple starting on February 25. The estimated value is “unknown” since it’s the first auction of its kind.

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