Negative cash flow despite record receipts for Freelancer.com

Australia's Freelancer.com has reported a negative cash flow for the fourth quarter ending December 2014, despite record customer receipts for the period.

Australian online freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace operator Freelancer Limited has reported record receipts from customers in the fourth quarter ending December 31, 2014, despite seeing a negative net operating cash flow.

In its latest quarterly cash flow figures (PDF), the Sydney-based company reported AU$7.4 million worth of receipts from customers for the fourth quarter of 2014, and AU$26 million for the year.

This is 7.6 percent up from the previous quarter, and 42.1 percent more than the same quarter in December 2013.

The company's chief executive officer Matt Barrie expects the growth to continue into 2015.

"Freelancer continues to demonstrate exceptional growth, with record receipts from customers, registered users, and posted projects during the quarter and for the 2014 full financial year," Barrie told shareholders in a statement (PDF). "We expect that exceptional growth will continue in 2015 as it has each year for the last five years since the company was founded."

However, as in the previous quarter, which saw Freelancer's quarterly net operating cash flows come to minus AU$1 million, the company once again reported a negative net operating cash flow of AU$218,000, with total negative operating and investing cash flows of AU$412,000 for the quarter.

By contrast, Freelancer's cash reserves improved on the previous quarter, reaching AU$20.2 million by the end of December.

Given that the company acquired a number of online marketplace businesses in 2014, this tidy sum puts it into a position to continue with its acquisition strategy to build its user base and product portfolio.

Mid last year, Barrie estimated that Freelancer had picked up around 1 million new users as a result of the acquisitions, which included internet marketing marketplace and community Warrior Forum, online virtual content marketplace Fantero.com, and Poland's largest online freelancing marketplace site, Zlecenia.przez.net.

The April 2014 AU$3.2 million acquisition of Warrior Forum -- Freelancer's third within a month -- alone captured an additional 732,000 users for the company. It also acquired local technology startup conference and community SydStart for an undisclosed amount in November.

Freelancer's financial statement for the six months ending June 2014 showed that it spent AU$3.6 million on acquisitions of other businesses during the period, and just under AU$6.7 million in total employee expenses.

The latest quarterly financials revealed that Freelancer spent AU$3.9 million on staff costs for the fourth quarter, and AU$13.9 million for the year.

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