Toptal Buys Skillbridge to Advance Freelance Tech Market

Freelance developer entity Toptal announced it has acquired Skillbridge, a firm that focuses on providing top freelance business talent to companies.

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Toptal, a company that provides freelance software engineers and designers for hire, has announced its acquisition of Skillbridge, an online platform for elite business freelancers, in a move aimed at creating a scalable network for top freelance developers, designers, and business professionals.

According to Toptal officials, the combined entity will use Toptal's technology platform to quickly expand its network of talent and scale product offerings. The goal is to maintain the elite matching service and high-level of support that customers of both companies have come to rely upon, the company said.

"We are buying Skillbridge in order to catalyze and accelerate our launch into the business talent category," Taso Du Val, CEO of Toptal, told eWEEK. "It's an area we've planned on getting into for a while, and Skillbridge's team and momentum fit perfectly into the Toptal strategy, as well as right into our infrastructure in a plug-and-play style acquisition."

With this acquisition, Du Val said Toptal will represent the top three percent of freelance developers, designers, and business professionals, connecting them with companies around the globe. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

"Companies are increasingly looking for expertise within the rapidly-growing on-demand business talent segment, and Skillbridge gives us the experience and knowledge to win in the space alongside our technology," said Du Val said in a statement. "After evaluating the landscape, they were clearly the most disruptive player—not only attracting and retaining the best talent from the likes of McKinsey, Wharton and Google—but also consistently delivering high success rates and repeat usage. Skillbridge's expertise merged with Toptal’s extreme technological edge will allow us to continue our growth and dominance in the talent marketplace sector."

Rather than attempting to become a one-stop shop for freelance talent in the tech industry, Du Val told eWEEK that Toptal is moving "to catalyze and accelerate our launch into the business talent category. We will be expanding well beyond the tech industry in the future. Remote talent and tech talent is just the start."

Meanwhile, Skillbridge has grown rapidly over the past two years, successfully building its client base to include five of the top 10 largest private equity firms in the U.S., high-growth startups, and Fortune 500 clients, Toptal officials said.

"When I invested in Skillbridge, I knew it was a great team with a great product, in a market that needed to be disrupted," said Marvin Liao, a partner in 500 Startups, which invested in Skillbridge. "Toptal's acquisition validates the Skillbridge team's dedication. I look forward to seeing the combined firm's even faster growth in the coming years."

Skillbridge has more than 7,500 screened freelance professionals to date, the company said. Among the services it provides is enabling businesses to quickly hire top consultants, accountants, statisticians and other trusted specialists in areas such as market research, financial modeling, and due diligence. The company boasts a proprietary Talent Dynamics platform that intelligently matches the right talent to the right projects.

For its part, Toptal is a network of freelance engineers. However, "We do have designers as well joining us nowadays," said Alvaro Oliveira, vice president of Talent Operations at Toptal, in an interview with eWEEK. "So because of that, we not only have the talent pool, we also have a lot of clients coming through looking to work with those freelancers. So we look at the requests we are getting from our own clients to build up a data set on top programming languages and technologies. We have thousands of developers in our ranks. Toptal has been around since 2010 and we have tens of thousands of companies that have registered into our platform. So we cull all this data from requests that we see on a very frequent basis."

Oliveira noted that Toptal has developed a rigorous screening process to identify the best freelance talent available. Of the thousands of applications Toptal sees each month, no more than 3 percent are typically accepted, he said.

"Toptal has the most advanced platform for hiring the best freelance developers and designers—and rather than focusing blindly on volume, we are both relentless about delivering elite quality, reliability, and amazing service," said Raj Jeyakumar, co-founder and CEO of Skillbridge, in a statement.

"Combining the two businesses, our learnings and resources allow us to bring a truly world-class offering in the talent marketplace," added Saalim Chowdhury, co-founder and CTO of Skillbridge, also in a statement.

Over the past several years, Toptal has become the fastest-growing talent marketplace and has continued to increase its network of freelancers, expand product offerings, and build relationships with key partners, he said.

When asked how much demand is out there in the industry for freelance developers and engineers as well as business types, Du Val responded: "Too much—we get hundreds of requests from companies around the globe each week."

He added that these freelancers come to Toptal because it offers them flexibility, ease and the ability to be part of a community that adds an incredible amount of value to their life.

"McKinsey, for example, and other great companies recognize the power of a network," he said. "You can think of us as a better, more scalable, more powerful McKinsey that is predicated on having an exceptional network. It's part of our core value. No technology besides Toptal can make that claim."