oDesk to merge with Elance

Benefits from the merger include better mining of data, increased investment in hiring technology, and better platform tools.

Online work marketplace oDesk has signalled that it will merge with its rival Elance, using the combined power of both companies to better invest in products and services.

oDesk CEO Gary Swart made the announcement on the company website, stating that the decision was made because the two businesses think they can do a better job combined.

"We are both inspired by a similar vision: To deliver online work experiences that create freedom and boundless opportunity for clients and freelancers everywhere."

Swart said that the two companies would invest in more technology, including tools for hiring, online collaboration, mobile support, and freelance skills development. It already has such tools that periodically, but randomly, taking screenshots of freelancers' work when they are "on the clock" to reassure customers that their paid-for time is being spent working.

The two companies will also combine their data, allowing the single merged company to mine through much more information to provide better matches between jobs and freelancers.

The merger has not yet been completed, scheduled instead for the first quarter of next year. Current oDesk and Elance customers will be unaffected, as the two will remain as separate businesses. No changes in fees or membership structures have been planned.

oDesk executive chairman Thomas Layton will stay in his role in the combined company, while Elance CEO Fabio Rosati will serve as the new CEO.

This also means that existing oDesk CEO Swart will step down from his position, although he will remain onboard as a strategic advisor.

"We have been spirited business rivals over the years, but I have always respected Fabio. I could not possibly imagine a more dedicated and capable CEO to oversee the merged company," Swart said of Rosati.

No new name for the combined company has been decided on yet.

The largest rival to the duo of companies is Freelancer.com. The Aussie-born company has been busy acquiring its rivals Scriptlance , vWorker , Freemarket, and LimeExchange.

After being rumoured to reject a $400 million buyout deal from Japanese competitor Recruit Co, it listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, more than tripling its first day expectations .