Entrepreneur: a. The team wants to become a marketplace to ‘rent’ rather than ‘buy’ skills

Many tech workers have quit their jobs during the pandemic, part of the wave known as the Great Resignation. But it turns out that some left the workforce not so much as changing their relationship with it, deciding that instead of committing to being employees of one company, they could “rent” their skills to many.

Not everyone will work this way, said Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton. But for workers in the subgroup of the economy who want the flexibility and freedom to set their own schedules and choose who to work with, collaborating with others in remote teams can feel more secure than being alone.

According to Grant, it is part of the “universal human quest,” “I want to be unique, but I also want to belong.”

Grant has been interested in the teams for some time. Many books have been written about data and the science behind the motivations that drive individuals and organizations. In 2018, he met Rafael Ozan, an entrepreneur who began noticing that many of his peers were looking to escape rigid work structures that did not allow them to choose collaborators or projects. The two kept in touch.

By that time, the self-employment economy was firmly entrenched, but most opportunities in this economy, whether working with Uber, DoorDash, Upwork, or Fiverr, involved simple short-term tasks.

“The system is very commoditized,” Ozan said. “There wasn’t much for people who wanted to pursue a career independently.”

In 2020, Ozan helped create A. Team, a members-only platform for companies and those she calls “product builders,” or people who help develop software. Ozan believes that “cloud-based teams” can quickly integrate into any company, no matter where they are located in the world, and represent the next generation of the temporary jobs economy.

The team now has 4,000 technical workers and more than 200 companies on its platform. The company announced Tuesday that it has raised $55 million in funding in a round led by Tiger Global Management, Insight Partners and Spruce Capital Partners. Additional investment came from Jay-Z’s subsidiary Rocnation; founders of CAA, Apollo and Fiverr; and Grant.

“Many of the great accomplishments in human history are attributed to groups of people, but also our greatest frustrations are when we work in teams of people,” Grant said. “I’ve been predicting for years that the future of work will have more opportunities, especially for people in knowledge economies and creators, to be independent but have a structure behind this independent work.”

The pandemic has changed a lot about the way we work, Grant said, and “the potential silver lining for COVID is that we’ve had to be more thoughtful and deliberate about our collaboration.”

Amélie Beurrier, product manager and designer, is one of those workers Grant is referring to. She’s worked for startups and bigger companies like Amazon, but what she enjoys most is the freedom to work for herself while working in teams with others. A little less than a year ago, I heard about A. Team from a friend and decided to step up to the podium. (A. The team has an application process that includes “technical interviews and an algorithmic evaluation,” the company said in a statement, and members are “constantly evaluated” as they work on projects.)

Angelo Straquatano, CEO of Apprentice, which develops software for the life sciences, turned to A. Team during the pandemic when his company needed to ramp up work quickly. He said it gave him access to “more than 20 engineers almost overnight.”

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