Hackernoon logoThe "Golden Million" Upwork Freelancers: Between Conspiracy Theory and Business Reality by@nebojsa.todorovic

The "Golden Million" Upwork Freelancers: Between Conspiracy Theory and Business Reality

Nebojsa "Nesha" Todorovic Hacker Noon profile picture

@nebojsa.todorovicNebojsa "Nesha" Todorovic

Noonies2020 Award Winner for the Most Controversial Writer of the Year

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You have probably heard and read about the “Golden Billion” conspiracy theory.

The golden billion (Russian: золотой миллиард, tr. zolotoy milliard) is a term, in the Russian-speaking world, referring to the relatively wealthy people in industrially developed nations, or the West.[1] (source: wikipedia)

I used to think that the “Golden Million” Upwork freelancers plan is one of those conspiracy theories. The first time I read about it was on Twitter. One of the Upwork freelancers made a shocking claim that more than 100K user accounts were purged in one single week. In my comment to his tweet, I asked for evidence. You can’t make claims such as these without the numbers to back it up, can you?

Guess what? I got this screenshot in a reply, which I’m sharing with you here.

As you can see for yourself, more than 100K freelance accounts on Upwork simply vanished over one week.

My personal feeling is that the freelancers with “no earnings yet” were particularly vulnerable and I dare to say a “targeted” category in this purge.

I just had to do so some additional checking, and at least, compare results from more than one independent source. So, I did it.

This is a screenshot from Thinknum’s article. When you compare the dates of these two screenshots May 11th and 5th, you get close results in the number of Upwork user accounts.

Then I remembered that I made one screenshot myself back in 2019 when I published an article on Hacker Noon.

When you compare my screenshot and particularly the number of freelancers “any amount earned” with the previously mentioned article (screenshot), you get a very close number of accounts prior to the “Great Upwork Purge,” more than 2M+, give it or take.

Now, here’s a billion-dollar question.

Why is Upwork purging freelance accounts on such scale, and if I may add, promptly?

It’s a ridiculous idea that hundreds of thousands of freelancers were violating Upwork Terms at the same time. So, we can’t blame them, can we? Yes, I’m pointing a finger at Upwork for a reason.

Just recently, the new Upwork CEO Hayden Brown was the special guest of CNBC’s Mad Money with Jim Cramer. I think you can find this video on YouTube or somewhere else online. Long story short, Upwork CEO just confirmed what we all knew: this platform has had the merciless Fortune 500 business orientation. Meaning, Upwork has become unacceptably overcrowded in terms of the number of freelancers who are working there from Upwork’s own perspective.

The next thing you know, one million freelance accounts disappeared in less than a year.

This is how I come up with my theory of Upwork’s “Golden Million.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t where my story and theory end. It would be wrong to think that those freelancers who weren’t purged could consider themselves to be lucky or even blessed with an opportunity to work on the biggest and most popular platform in the freelance industry. Why?

Well, let’s look at the numbers again.

Only about 10% of one million Upwork freelancers make more than $10K.

Now, do you remember all those shameless and insensitive articles on Forbes and Business Insider about six-figure freelancers on Upwork? I dare to say that these super-successful guys don’t get even close to the one whole percent. Again, this is my personal estimate based on all of these numbers you were able to see for yourself. Plain and simple, there’s no way of knowing for sure.

And The Moral of My Story About Upwork’s “Golden Million” Freelancers Is?

Just to be perfectly clear. It’s Upwork’s way or some other freelance highway. If Upwork one day decides to close all freelance accounts, who’s to stop them? Upwork can do whatever they want with their own platform (business).

My personal problem is that Upwork could’ve cut their service fees for no more than a few symbolic percents and saved thousands of freelance accounts for a change.

My problem is that every freelancer deserves a fair chance because you simply don’t know when one project can change someone’s life. If I’m the only one who’s having a problem with the Upwork’s purge then - nothing.

My word of advice to all those victims of Upwork’s “freelanocide” is simple: Don’t cry for Upwork because Upwork certainly doesn’t cry for you.


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