Braintrust, a network for freelance technical and design talent that launched over the summer, is announcing that it has raised $18 million in new funding.
Co-founder and CEO Adam Jackson has written for TechCrunch about how tech companies need to treat independent contractors with more empathy. He told me via email that the San Francisco-based startup is making that idea a reality by offering a very different approach than existing marketplaces for freelance work.
For one thing, Braintrust only charges the companies doing the hiring — freelancers won’t have to pay to join or to bid on a project, and Braintrust won’t charge a fee on their project payments. In addition, the startup is using a cryptocurrency token that it calls Btrust to reward users who build the network, for example by inviting new customers and vetting freelance. Apparently, the token will give users a stake in how the network evolves in the future.
“Just imagine if Uber had given all of it’s drivers some ownership in the company what a different company it would be today,” Jackson said. “Braintrust will be 100% user owned. Everyone who participates on the platform has skin in the game.”
And for companies, Braintrust is supposed to allow them to tap freelancers for work that they’d normally do in-house. The startup’s clients already include Nestle, Pacific Life, Deloitte, Porsche, Blue Cross Blue Shield and TaskRabbit.
According to Jackson, most of the talent on the platform consists of career freelancers, but with many people losing their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, “we’ve seen an influx of talent coming looking to join the ranks of the freelancers.”
He added that the startup already became profitable after raising its $6 million seed round, so the new funding will allow it to build the core team and also bring in more work.
“We exist to help companies accelerate their product roadmaps and innovation, and this injection of funding will help us do just that,” Jackson said.
The new funding was led by ACME and Blockchange, with participation from new investors Pantera, Multicoin and Variant.