Upwork Expects a Record Year - Upwork Chat Pro Introduced as a new AI Assistant for Freelancers!
The AI trend is still in its infancy and is also creating a high demand for specialists to develop modern apps, especially with generative AI. Upwork is positioning itself more broadly as a leading recruitment platform for freelancers with new products and aims to become the leading online marketplace when it comes to recruiting talent for AI projects. The news that the number of job advertisements for generative AI on the platform increased tenfold in the first half of the year has already attracted attention. Upwork provides a wide selection of prompt engineers and AI model trainers through to researchers, data annotators and code reviewers. The new AI Services Hub is in demand and is said to have already seen a tenfold increase in average monthly visitors since its launch on July 11. It provides companies with a job ad generator, chatbots for better navigation and advice on hiring AI talent.
Upwork Chat Pro introduced as a new AI assistant
At the same time, tools for freelancers are also offered, which were expanded two days ago with a new suite of generative AI apps, offers and educational opportunities. Industry-leading tools from Adobe, Amazon, ClickUp and Miro as well as training resources from Coursera, Jasper and Udemy can be integrated via partnerships. For example, there are discounts on Creative Cloud All Apps and Photoshop subscriptions, such as the text-to-image generator Firefly. Amazon CodeWhisperer is designed to facilitate development work with a code generator. With Upwork Chat Pro, there is also a new chatbot based on GPT-4, which is to be made available to selected professionals in the coming months in order to carry out work faster and more effectively. According to the Upwork Research Institute, interest is likely to be high, as 76% of freelancers surveyed are open to learning new AI tools. Here, CEO Hayden Brown emphasizes "Upwork Chat Pro leverages unique insights from Upwork about independent professionals to provide specific contextualized answers and recommendations relevant to the needs of Upwork professionals, helping them start, create and complete projects more efficiently and effectively."
Annual forecast raised - record revenue and EBITDA expected
Revenue increased by 10.8% to $175.7 million (consensus: $168.3 million). A loss of $-0.03 per share in the same period of the previous year was also turned into earnings of $0.21 per share (consensus: $0.10), which more than doubled analysts' estimates. A simplified flat-rate pricing structure implemented in May had a positive impact on revenue, with the total take rate, i.e. the total amount of retained fees, rising from 16.3% to 17.1% quarter-on-quarter. The number of active customers increased by 2% quarter-on-quarter to 836,000. There are 23 new corporate logos, including Dropbox, IT'SUGAR, Moderna and Florida State University. What is also noteworthy is the spending by enterprise customers of over $5 million in the last 12 months, which increased by 43% in the most recent quarter. The gross service volume (GSV) remains relatively unchanged due to the strength of recent years, but has already exceeded $1 billion for seven consecutive quarters. In the future, a positive free cash flow should also be generated continuously. An ongoing share buyback program was increased by an additional $100 million. Both sales and adjusted EBITDA are expected to set new records this year. In the fourth quarter, as in the year as a whole, revenue is expected to grow by around 10%. On an annualized basis, the new sales forecast is $680-685 million (consensus: $670.52 million). Earnings are now also expected to be $0.47-0.49 per share (consensus: $0.37). As already planned, the year is expected to close with an EBIDTA margin of 15%. The analyst consensus expects sales of $1.06 billion and net earnings of $1.14 per share by 2026. This would reduce the P/E ratio to below 13. The share is approaching its 52-week high with an upward gap.
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