To use a common word, the gig economy has disrupted industries from ride-hailing to quick-service restaurants. Contract work has its drawbacks on the pay and benefits side of the equation. But sheer willpower and unity economics beneficial to business have catapulted it into the mainstream.

A 2019 study by Mastercard estimated that the global gig economy now generates $204 billion in gross volume. It expects the book to grow by 17% by 2023.

Many entrepreneurs oppose the idea that the gig economy is a net negative, pointing to the flexibility it offers to employees and employers. Raphael Ouzan and Kobi Matsri belong to this cohort and founded A.Team, a gig marketplace for product engineers, in early 2020.

“We saw that highly skilled technicians wanted to escape the rigid structures of full-time work, but the [traditional] gig economics wasn’t a solution for them because it was so commoditizing and capped with simple, task-oriented work,” said Ouzan. “Then came the obvious insight: solving problems that matter requires a team with different skills, backgrounds, and perspectives. The team is the core of the work of the knowledge economy, and yet it had never been brought to fruition in the world of online work.”

Ouzan claims that A.Team, which emerged today from stealth with $60 million in funding, differs from traditional gig platforms in that it “[s] world-class product builders working together as cloud-based teams and connecting[s] with companies that had meaningful product missions.” That’s a lot of jargon and positive framing, but the crux is that A.Team helps companies assemble teams of vetted specialists to design and market products.

gig marketplace

A.Team was launched at the start of the pandemic when crippling layoffs hit the tech industry. Ouzan says thousands of engineers, designers, and product managers have signed up to build products, including mask distribution, contact tracing, and vaccine manufacturing software.

The normalization of telecommuting also fueled growth, as product specialists were increasingly able to work from home. “We had never publicly launched A.Team as a company but grew into a [referral- and] network of more than 250 customers and 4,000 builders, while for the past two years, it was still hidden and by invitation only — all through word of mouth,” Ouzan told blog line in an email interview. “We started product builders to collaborate with their colleagues to work on issues that matter to them while enjoying full autonomy and income.”

Fascinatingly, A.Team used its network with a full-time staff to build and expand the A. Team platform. A.Team’s contractors and full-timers created what Ouzan called the TeamGraph, which considers a gig candidate’s work experience and “behavioral analytics” to build company product teams. The TeamGraph is a semantic chart that attempts to establish the relationships between industry experience, skills, roles, and expertise, extract data from a range of sources, and use machine learning to optimize the chart with input from A.Team’s Team Pulse- function. Team Pulse allows customers to rate the A. Team members they work with and members to rate each other – fair and not malicious, you would hope.

“Our algorithm can…learn what” [A. Team users are] interested in behavioral data, not just self-reported data. Think of it as a smart inbox for teams and missions,” Ouzan said. “With TeamGraph, we don’t recommend people for roles – we recommend teams for missions. We reduce bias in our recommendations by ensuring the algorithm is blind to demographic or location data.”

Like any other job platform, A.Team offers gig seekers and teams recommendations based on connections, complementary skills, and projects to identify top matches.

“A.Team is popularizing the concept of elastic resources through cloud-based teams, which will make businesses and builders more resilient to potential market downturns. It’s a smarter way to scale for growth,” says Ouzan. “The power dynamics have changed, and the best and many of the best tech talent in the world want the freedom and flexibility to work on what matters to them, not the rigid structures of a full-time job.”

The evidence on this is mixed. While it is true that during the pandemic, many professionals are leaving full-time jobs for contract work, particularly in project management and consulting, surveys show that the benefits and benefits associated with gainful employment remain highly desirable. As for whether increased reliance on contract workers can insulate companies from economic headwinds, that’s not true in certain sectors, such as health care, which paid contractors significantly more than full-time workers during the pandemic to address staff shortages.

Ouzan argues that the tech industry is somewhat unique in its orientation towards product lifecycles, which require niche expertise. In addition to moving products from idea to production, companies can use A. He says teams to inject skills gaps into product teams or provide additional units to work on different industries.

There is a clear interest in A. Team, with 25 new business customers joining the platform every month. Sales grew 7.4x in 2021, and the gross value of the merchandise (for example, total sales revenue) has recently surpassed $42 million, according to Ouzan, thanks to a customer base that includes McGraw Hill and The Economist. But as A.Team prepares to onboard 100 new companies per month, it remains to be seen whether the flexibility — and the pay, for that matter — will continue to draw workers to the platform. It’s often a delicate balancing act with gig marketplaces. For example, early in the pandemic, a flood of newly unemployed workers cut into gig workers’ incomes.

“Through modular, cloud-based teams, we enable companies to scale their product resources up and down based on the mission and stage of product development,” Ouzan said.  “A. The team is a brand new way of working for the best product builders who have left FAANG companies and want the freedom to work on meaningful product missions with teammates they love. They work in teams on missions that last an average of 12 to 19 months and earn an average of $130 per hour. Making $100,000 a year with Fiverr is the outlier; at A. The team that is the starting point.”

A.Team’s funding came from a $55 million Series A round co-led by Tiger Global Management, Insight Partners, and Spruce Capital Partners and a previously undisclosed $5 million seed round. NFX led the seed round, joined by Box Group, Village Global, and first minute capital, with the participation of (unsurprisingly) a former Upwork CEO and co-founder of Fiverr.

Ouzan says the capital will be spent on expanding A. Team’s core platform and creating an ecosystem of independent product builders, companies, partners, and investors. The company employs 75 people between staff and contract and expects to grow to 170 by 2021.


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