Freelancer revenue jumps 39% in 2014: Why Matt Barrie is excited for the year ahead

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Freelancer founder Matt Barrie says he is excited for the year ahead, after the online freelance marketplace posted a 39% jump in revenue for the year ending December 2014.

“It was an exceptional year, revenue is up, users are up,” Barrie told SmartCompany this morning. “I’m pretty excited.”

Investors were also pleased with the results, with Freelancer’s share price improving slightly from 0.68 cents at the close of yesterday’s trading session to 0.69 cents this morning.

Reporting its full-year results to the Australian Securities Exchange yesterday, Freelancer reported net revenue of $26.1 million, up from $18.8 million for the 2013 financial year.

Freelancer’s gross payment volume also grew strongly in 2014, up 23% from $84.4 million in 2013 to $103.7 million.

Freelancer recorded 4.6 million new registered users in 2014, bringing the total number of unaudited users of the site to 14.46 million at the end of last week. This compares to 9.7 million users as of December 2013.

As of February 15, 7.1 million projects had been posted on Freelancer.

But a year of opening new offices, hiring new staff and a string of acquisitions meant Freelancer posted a net loss after tax of $1.5 million and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of negative $2.1 million.

Freelancer came close to breaking even, with operating cash flow of $-100,000.

But Barrie dismissed concerns about the net loss, which he described as “immaterial”.

Barrie says Freelancer has come close to breakeven point in each year of its existence and “sometimes it’s positive, sometimes it’s slightly negative”.

“Top-line revenue growth is what matters and that’s what we’re focused on,” he says.

Freelancer acquired online marketplaces Warrior Forum, Fantero.com and Zlecenia.przes.net in 2014, as well as technology startup conference SydStart for an undisclosed sum in November.

While Barrie says there are no “imminent” plans for more acquisitions, Freelancer will “continue to look at good opportunities where they make a lot of sense and are the right price”.

“Historically, consolidation in the industry has worked well for us.”

Instead, Barrie says the focus for 2015 will be improving the user experience for Freelancer’s 14 million users.

“Our design is improving in leaps and bounds,” Barrie says.

“We want to work on a few pages on the sites and improve translation for multilingual users. We want to make our mobile products more robust and full featured.”

“There’s a ton of stuff. The product managers are pretty fired up.”

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Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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