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Idea for Upwork: allow stock-based compensation

An idea for upwork: allow as a payment type stock-options for the freelancer. 


I know this is not your core business and has no extra profit too it, it would however make upwork an even better platform that could attract more people and more extra sales. 


This would help freelancers do a side project and help startups as well. 


It would make upowork even more needed for freelancers and companies. 




Hello Victor, 


Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback. I'll pass this along to the appropriate team.


- Pradeep H


Seems like this is practical under 2 conditions:

1. The company should be a publically traded company and the ticker symbol provided along with evidence to show they have the ability to offer equity. Upwork may need to charge an addditional fee to verify things. There is no good/fair way for a freelancer to determine what the value of a private company should be worth. Even with unlisted Over the Counter (OTC) companies, it is possible to at least have an idea of what it's currently worth.

2. The upwork fee is based on the fair maket value of the shares at the time they are provided. For stock options, to avoid abuse (against either freelancer or upwork), it should probably be the greater of: a) total exercise value of the options (strike * number of shares) or b) The current market value of the shares minus the exercise value. | This encourages the clients to give freelancers a discount on stock options. To minimize fees, they would have to give a 50% discount on the market price, but if they go too low, they are basically giving them away for free, when there is clearly a market there willing to buy them for more. Hence the need for them to be publically traded companies, though abuse is still possible here with low volume OTCs due to potential stock price manipulation, so probably would need some minimium standards for what companies would be eligible.

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This is never going to actually happen, but your idea has the virtue of being novel... something that hasn't been discussed in the Forum before. Or at least not discussed much.

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Victor V.,


While you might want to be compensated with options to buy shares of the companies you work with here, it would be foolish for Upwork to accept part (or all?) of its fees from you with a portion of those shares. And how would Upwork know that the $100 project you are doing is not actually a project where you have agreed to accept $100 in cash (on which Upwork's fee would be based) and $50,000 worth of stock options from the client, which you would keep all for yourself?


Upwork's business model is to receive a cash portion of all compensation you receive from clients. And that compensation must be in cash or cash equivalent.


In my experience, nearly all of the clients on Upwork are either individuals who have their own needs or employees of private companies.


But options to buy shares of private companies -


1) Typically have no specific value as long as the company remains private. And they may not ever have a specific or significant value, regardless what the issuing company claims is their "value."


2) Upwork would have no way to independently verify what such options are worth at the time your project ends, so you or Upwork getting paid with options has no specific value to Upwork (meaning Upwork could not recognize any revenue on the value of options you receive for your work on the project).


3) Even if Upwork could establish a value for the options you received due to your work for the client, you would be on the hook for paying Upwork a cash payment based on that value. And who would establish that value - you, the client? Upwork certainly could not. (Who would buy them? At what price?)


Upwork is not an investment bank and would no more be inclined to accept options on private company shares as the basis for payment to itself or freelancers than would be Ford if you wanted to buy a truck with them or IBM if you wanted to pay for a computer system with them.


I don't expect what you suggest will ever be acceptable to Upwork. The company needs all the cash revenue it can get to eventually show a profit to its shareholders. Dabbling in options, or on freelancer fees based on the supposed "value" of such options, would be a fool's errand.



I am not suggesting upwork should profit of it, I agree establishing the
value of options.

Why would Upwork want to do it still? Because it makes it a more
encompassing platform to find freelancers, and also for startups/private
companies who don't have all their work on payroll.

Not all features on many platforms make money (Facebook is a good example),
but they do make the platform more valuable to its users.

I wouldn't agree that is not worth to add it, but i agree it is not the
biggest market, thats why i dont see problems to implement, it is not gonna
cut into Upworks revenue.

All the best, V
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