Jun 28, 2017

Tech companies desperate for skills but spurn top freelancers

Hitesh Choudhary / Creative Commons

Michael Solomon has attracted glowing portraits in The New Yorker, The New York Times and Bloomberg for his clientele of tech worker superstars, outsized computing talent that has produced or worked on some of the best-known programs in the world. Like the agents who represent athletes and actors, Solomon negotiates their terms of free-lance employment, which for the top-draw people — right now machine learning and artificial intelligence specialists — can command up to $1,000 an hour. Solomon takes 15% off the top.

But he says his New York firm, 10X Management, has 4,000 potential clients on a waiting list: Years after the invention of the term gig worker, Silicon Valley, he says, still isn't comfortable enough with the idea of hiring free-lancers. Many still prefer full-time workers. "We have to build up the demand side," Solomon tells Axios.

Why it's important: Technology companies are screaming for talent, and spend much time stealing each other's best workers. According to Solomon, they need — like other sectors of the economy — to get more used to gig workers, people who will be loyal and sign a confidentiality agreement, but want more freedom, in particular to move on when the job is done.

How it works: Solomon says his clients are extremely talented at what they do, but "aren't necessarily good at the business side." They need someone to negotiate their pay and other conditions of employment. On average, he says his clients earn $175 to $250 an hour, and, taken over a year, work around 30 hours a week.

An up-and-coming hot profession in terms of pay: specialists in virtual reality and augmented reality technology.

Go deeper

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 5,428,605 — Total deaths: 345,375 — Total recoveries — 2,179,408Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil Over 100 cases in Germany tied to single day of church services.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.