Japanese firm makes $400m offer for Freelancer.com



blog Thought Australian outsourcing marketplace Freelancer.com was going to grow up into a strong, Australia-based company that would conquer the world? Well, it appears that you may be wrong. According to US technology blog TechCrunch, Japanese HR and recruitment giant Recruit Co. has made a $400 million offer to buy Matt Barrie’s bouncing baby boy. The site reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“Looks like Recruit Co., the Japan-based HR and recruitment site giant that has long been gearing up for an IPO, is on the acquisition trail again, just a month after buying NuGrid in India and a year after its acquisition of Indeed.com. According to sources close to the situation, it has made a $400 million offer for Freelancer.com, an online portal that connects people with short-contract jobs.”

I’m in two minds about this situation. On the one hand, I would really hate to see yet another great Australian technology startup sell out to international interests. Long-term IT industry observers in Australia will know that when this happens, the foreign companies tend to eventually gut the Australian firm and move most of its operations offshore. Australia loses a great growth company, and our power of gravity as a technology hub is diminished consequently.

There is some indication that Freelancer.com founder and chief executive Matt Barrie may not want to sell out. He tells Business Review Weekly:

“Barrie would not comment on any deal but told BRW his business has been going “gangbusters” and had been subject to many offers over the past four years – “you name it, we’ve been pitched it”.”

However, of course it’s a free market, and Freelancer.com was always a global company anyway. Its sale may spur Barrie — who will no doubt end up with much of the company’s value in his pocket — to reinvest in the Australian startup ecosystem, as similarly successful entrepreneurs have done before him. Barrie has a strong passion in developing Australia’s startup and IT ecosystem, as he wrote in March this year. In any case, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with the offer and what Barrie does afterwards, if it goes through.

Image credit: Freelancer.com


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