Ari Gold is a legendary character in the TV series Entourage. But besides the brilliant acting by Jeremy Piven, Ari’s role is key to understanding the dynamics of the freelance-based economy — not only in Hollywood, but even more in the online freelance tech economy. Let me tell you why.
Back in the old days, Hollywood movies were created by large corporate studios managed hierarchically, centrally and organized around mass production with an efficient assembly line of movies and massive payrolls for the actors, directors, editors, and other workers involved. In those days, the superstar actor in Entourage, Vincent Chase, would have been hired directly by the corporate studio, and he would most likely have been a member of a trade union, which would represent him in salary negotiations with the studio.
However, today’s movie production is mostly made by independent freelancers who are hired “on-demand” to get together and work on a movie production. If you have watched Entourage, you’ve seen how the team raises funds to produce their movie called Medien and how they then hire a team to produce it.
But this movement from “factories” to a “flexible labour market” is not just happening in Hollywood; indeed, it is happening in a wide range of industries and fields. The online freelance economy is driven by businesses that want the flexibility to organize teams around a specific purpose, business objective, or problem. The globalization of the marketplace and rapid advances in technology are causing companies to rethink the way they’re currently structured. Often nowadays, business is just too unpredictable to hire a dedicated and permanent team with a fixed cost structure. To survive in this new economy, companies must be able to expand, contract and change direction both quickly and often.
The transformation from big industrial corporations to a flexible freelance economy can be explained by the economist Ronald Coase’s transaction cost “theory of the firm”. Here, high transaction costs explain the existence of large companies, such as the Hollywood studios: It’s cheaper to keep resources and talent in-house compared to buying them on the open market. However, new online marketplaces are driving down transaction costs, making it fast, easy, and efficient to have an “on-demand” workforce of talents available to work remotely outside the organization. Today, there are now more ways to work remotely than ever before, utilizing smartphones, skype, and other systems and devices that can connect teams to work seamlessly 24/7. And there are now more online job opportunities available than ever before. Currently, there are more than 200,000 projects like these available online across more than 50 freelance online portals. There are more than two million freelancers bidding on projects at any point in time, so if you’re a company that needs to get a task done right now, then it’s more likely to be a better quality, faster, and cheaper option to let the best out of the twenty million freelancers available globally to do it compared to sending the job as an order to one of your limited numbers of employee with all the cost of micromanaging traditional workers and the more limited skill-set available in your team.
The best talent are often only available on a contract basis and often the most talented freelancers don’t want to work for the same company month after month, year after year. They want to be a part of the most innovative, game-changing, and cool projects. Being hired as a coder on a long-term basis might not seem the best idea when you could be 10X as productive as your colleagues, but only getting the same salary level. These superstar coders will want higher salaries, just as the superstar actors in Hollywood get paid much more than the average soap opera actors. Also, whereas our parents generation might have had one or two jobs in total in their lifetime, our generation can expect to have as many as 10–20 jobs. A high performance freelancer can easily expect to work for more than 100 companies from 100 different countries on 100 different projects during the course of their successful career. Oh boy — what a completely different world we live in today.
So why is Ari Gold so important to understanding the network-based freelance economy in Hollywood? Well, Ari represents the role of a talent agency, like CAA/ICT/Paradigm, who work as the “matchmakers” between the talent and movie producers. Ari Gold works night and day to get his talent the best possible deals in the best possible movies to make sure his client actors careers are on the right track.
So if Upwork, Freelancer.com, and Fiverr represent Hollywood, as the marketplace where movie production is being organized, CodersTrust represents the role of Ari Gold, helping online freelancers to boost their careers with the right skills to constantly move upward on the right career trajectory. Naturally, any freelancer could work completely on their own, but just as all famous actors have agents, CodersTrust is working to serve the talent on the portal to help them maximize their earning potential. However, this is where the similarities ends, because Ari is operating on a physical and local market, while CodersTrust is operating on a global and digital market. That makes a world of difference.
Working in the digital marketplace enables CodersTrust to specialize in scanning all 200,000 freelance jobs currently available and to leverage data science, machine learning, and recommendation algorithms to deliver talented programmers with a smarter, quicker, and higher paid career path.
I would love to see a socialist party or trade union do that for their members. With a fully digital labour market, CodersTrust have a real-time laboratory and the required microscope to create customized education based on the online demand of the labour market and to guide talented students to the best paid jobs that can optimize their career path and maximize their earnings potential.
And just think about the potential of making this powerful technology available to the lowest paid workers in the world. Imagine if they had this weapon instead of a destructive ideology or unions/governance that were invented for the era of factories rather than for the modern, new online and on-demand economy! So, young people around the world, learn to code and go work online, you have nothing to lose but your chains…