CEO of Freelancer talks fintech & crypto “bubble”, announces IPO spin-off

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Matt Barrier, CEO and Founder of the global online job marketplace Freelancer, has recently heeded against investing into fintech and cryptocurrencies, calling the branches "bubbles" and stating intentions towards a long-term IPO venture that would be a "spin-off" of Escrow.

Speaking to The Australian Financial Review in the wake of Freelancer's shares diving 14 per cent in one day after revelations of a rare revenue slow-down, Mr Barrie provided a robust defense of the company's long-term prospects, including his high expectations for Escrow, the payments business it acquired in 2015.

But he warned a bubble had emerged and despite teaching cryptography he doesn't invest in cryptocurrencies.

"There is definitely a bubble in fintech and there is definitely a bubble in blockchain and there is definitely a bubble in crypto," Barrie said.

"I taught cryptography at university for 14 years and I don't invest in any of the cryptocurrencies, I think it is a complete fad. Ultimately I think the Federal Reserve in the US will release its own Fed coin and will regulate or ban everything else … then the Reserve Bank will do similar in Australia and every country in the world will launch their own digital currency and ban all other coins so that the central banks keep control of the money supply."

Since going public successfully in late 2013, Freelancer, the "eBay for jobs", has been the Australian tech company most comparable to well-known US tech platform players and has consistently delivered rapid revenue growth. Investors were therefore taken aback when Freelancer reported a 7 per cent fall in revenue to $24.7 million in the first half a fortnight ago.

Barrie said the fall was caused by a confluence of two missteps, which have since been reversed. First was a move to allow users to post jobs on the site with one click and little detail (extra details were added after workers started bidding and asking relevant questions) and the second was to promote top-tier membership plans with free trial periods at the same time.

While both moves were logical ideas, in reality they led to too many low-quality job listings being posted at the same time as freelancers were bidding for multiple jobs at once, due to their generous free trial package allowances.

Read more here.

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