How you can scale your company by relying on freelancers plus 4 multi-billion dollar case studies

Relying on freelancers can help catapult your business towards success. Check out these 4 multi-billion dollar companies who did just that!

Every business wants to grow fast while saving as much money as possible. And there are some great success stories that went from garage to Fortune 500 for all of us to aspire to.

Relying on freelancers for significant parts of your day-to-day work can be a great way to start growing your company quickly and cost-effectively. And some of those big business names? That’s just what they did! Let’s look at the stories of four companies who started out small (just like you) and used freelancers to grow into multi-billion dollar firms.


The world’s most used messaging app (averaging 2 billion users a day) wasn’t always so popular and widespread.

Founded back in 2009 (yes, it’s been around that long!) by former Yahoo! employees Jan Koum and Brian Acton, WhatsApp was initially developed as a new form of messaging app that would incorporate users’ statuses next to their names.

But in the first few months after release, the app kept crashing. The team hit so many bumps in the road that Koum almost threw in the towel.

Encouraged by Acton, who started out more as a financial partner and advisor, Koum kept working on the service for a few more months. And it was during this time that WhatsApp we know today started to take shape.

But how did WhatsApp get there, with only a handful of full-time employees and not much funding?

The answer is, of course, by relying on freelance Russian developers for help. Starting with its first iOS developer, Igor Solomennikov, WhatsApp entrusted a team of Eastern European IT experts with the core of its app development.

Why Russian freelancers, though? Simple. They provided the perfect combination of great IT talent and competitive, accessible prices. And the fact that Koum, born in Ukraine, could easily communicate with these freelancers based in his former neighboring country made it a slam dunk.

By outsourcing a hefty portion of the software engineering to freelance developers, the company could stretch every dollar two to three times more than if they had hired US-based engineers (which was quite the norm at that point in time). This allowed the founders to stretch the runway quite considerably, allowing them to raise a very limited amount of funding and in doing so retain the majority ownership of their valuable startup. All of this allowedWhatsApp to take off and quickly reach the highest rankings on both the App Store and Google Play. Even when Facebook acquired the company for over $19 billion in February 2014, the company only had 55 employees including the two founders and the service already saw 450 million monthly active users. That’s more users than Twitter or Pinterest have today.


Another excellent example of freelance talent working wonders for businesses of any size is Alibaba.

The Chinese retail, e-commerce, AI, and technology corporation offers a seemingly limitless array of products at unbelievably low prices.

Alibaba, just like WhatsApp, started by relying on freelancers. We usually think of Chinese companies as providers of outsourced services, but in this instance Alibaba took the opposite approach.

During its early days, Alibaba was just a small online business, started in founder Jack Ma’s apartment. Alibaba founders worked hard to build a website that would work well both in China and across English-speaking countries.

So, Alibaba looked at what its competitors were doing. The key to success lay in outsourcing web development processes to the United States. In the US remote developers had the right type of skills and experience needed to design, develop, and deliver Ma’s vision: the world’s biggest digital marketplace. But more importantly, hiring remote developers based in the US also allowed Alibaba to develop a marketplace which included features and characteristics which would make it feel more “local” to US consumers.

Due to funding issues a few years later, Jack Ma decided to drastically wind down this remote US based team, but by then the company had already benefited handsomely.  This soon proved to be a winning strategy and helped Alibaba become one of the most important players in the online retail landscape. And while it has various massive competitors in its home country, Alibaba is the only of these Chinese e-commerce players to have seen sizable success in penetrating international markets across multiple continents.


Considering Upwork is one of the leading platforms to recruit and connect with freelancers it only makes sense that the company owes its very existence to freelancers!

Upwork came to life following the merger of Elance and oDesk, two leading freelance platforms, back in 2015. At the time, the company’s original 200-strong workforce within its Product and Engineering department heavily consisted of freelancers… hired through oDesk! In fact, over 150 of the 200 member team were recruited freelancers who the company found on…. Yes you guessed it, their own platform.

Former Upwork CEO and Head of Upwork Product and Engineering, Stephane Kasriel, noted that “recruiting is like fishing. You need to go where there’s fish and not too many fishermen.”

Upwork’s initial reliance on freelance talent helped it reach the success, popularity, and sky-high profits that it boasts today.


Let’s end with one of the multi-billion corporations that we have all known for a long time now, and whose services we all use on a daily basis: Google.

Even the giant of the search engine world sought help from outside its own offices. This approach started during the early days of the company and continues to this day.

But why, you might ask? Surely, being such a hugely successful multinational company, Google should be able to employ and retain its own in-house staff?

Well, the truth is more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no” answer.

In a way, it’s precisely Google’s overwhelmingly large size that led the company to seek external help for many of its processes and operations.

Think about it: with branches in virtually every country around the world, it would be almost impossible to efficiently oversee everything without outsourcing.

But what type of outsourcing is Google using, specifically? Pretty much anything: virtual assistant, IT, software development, marketing, customer services, and more. This type of outsourcing is generally referred to as business process outsourcing. And though it’s slightly different from using freelancers, it’s a great option for companies to streamline their day-to-day services as they grow.

Is your company ready to rely on freelance talent, too?

So if freelancers can help catapult giants like WhatsApp, Alibaba, Upwork, and Google to great heights, what can they do for your business?

Whether you are a solo entrepreneur, start-up, or small-to-medium-sized business, relying on freelancers to help you with significant parts of your operations can truly give you a competitive edge, increase your exposure, and boost your profits.

And if you are looking for a smart, easy, and cost-efficient way to manage your pool of freelance talent, GigRally can help. Using GigRally will help you keep costs under control and better manage your entire freelance staff so that you can focus on what is important: build a profitable and sustainable business. Want to learn more? Visit!

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