Upwork is the market leader in the freelancer hiring space. LD Talent is a new player in this arena. Besides size and age, what sets Upwork versus LD Talent apart?

Basic Information

Upwork features all roles – developers, virtual assistants, translators, etc.
LD Talent focuses on developers and some data scientists and designers.

Upwork lets anyone create a profile.
LD Talent vets developers for their creativity, algorithmic ability, coding ability, responsiveness, and responsibility (i.e. they’ve done large projects).

Upwork does not have a free trial.
LD Talent features a ~5 hour free trial (technically it’s $100 of free credit). Developers are paid but LD covers the cost of the first few hours.

Upwork does not vet freelancers by English ability.
LD Talent only accepts developers who exhibit written and spoken English proficiency.

Upwork does not invest in freelancer’s education.
LD Talent financially incentivizes developers to engage in lifelong learning.

Upwork and LD Talent both feature international and US-based freelancers.

Upwork does not do full-time referrals. You can only hire workers as freelancers.
LD Talent does do full-time referrals. So, you can opt to hire a developer directly for a finder’s fee instead of hiring them on the platform.

Upwork has an average international developer rate of ~$20/hr and a minimum freelancer rate of $5/hr.
LD Talent has an average international developer rate of ~$20/hr minimum developer rate of $15/hr.

Upwork pays its freelancers every week.
LD Talent pays its developers 3-7 days after their client approves their work.

Both Upwork and LD Talent present an unlimited number of candidates to potential clients. Clients can search the platforms respective databases by skills, location, and years of experience.

Summary Table Comparison

Here you can see how Upwork, LD Talent, and other competitors compare. To see this image larger visit here.

Developer Vetting

Upwork does not do vetting. It lets anyone sign up, but it keeps track of their ratings on different client projects.
LD Talent does vetting by:

  • recruiting engineers whose alma maters are well-established universities around the country and world, or engineers who have strong presence on Github
  • ensuring engineers have passed exams in computer science concepts, coding practicals, advanced algorithms (tests run on their submitted code)
  • reviewing engineers’ projects in their specialty area
  • having internal algorithms constantly monitor and rank engineers’ knowledge, performance, work session approval rate, ratings, productivity, responsiveness in slack, reliability, and other critical attributes
  • using automated and manual validation on the resumé form to ensure that developers that claim a skill have used the skill in a specific experience
  • doing video calls with all developers to ensure that they can communicate effectively in English with common idioms and proper grammar and the likes

Aside from the above differences, both platforms keep track of developers’ availability per week and earned hours.

How it Works

Upwork has a How it Works section. Essentially you can go on the platform, filter their database of candidates, invite people for interviews, hire them, and pay on the platform. You can fund milestones and approve them. Or, you can let talent track hours using a software that takes screenshots of their screen and tracks mouse and click activity.

LD Talent is similar, with a few specific differences. Namely, you:

  • don’t have to create an account to filter their database of developers – you can search for candidates: http://ldtalent.org/client/select_engineers/
  • get a 5 hour free trial so you can try candidates without putting down a credit card
  • can let developers track time but still get budget control by approving or rejecting work sessions, through the system of slack based time tracking, which are integrated with git commits and don’t require you to review screenshots of a developer’s screen
  • only pay for time if you’re satisfied with the work — you can just reject work sessions you’re not satisfied with — you don’t have to file a dispute and argue, like you have to do on Upwork
  • if you like a developer you can pay the buyout fee of 1K (international) or 2K (US-based) and hire the developer directly outside the platform

Technical Speciality

Upwork is a generalist platform, meaning it has developers who cover an array of different skills, and the platform has lots of developers, designers, virtual assistants, etc.

Similarly, LD Talent also has developers with diverse modern and in-demand skills. For instance, it features developers, designers, and data scientists who cover backend development in Django, Node, RoR, and Laravel, Frontend Development in React, Vue, Angular, HTML/CSS/JS, jQuery, Bootstrap, Native Android, Native iOS, React Native, and Unity, Blockchain, Tensorflow for AI, Machine Learning, NLP, Computer Vision, Deep Learning, Data Science, Web Scraping / Python Selenium Browser Automation, WordPress, Java, C++, CAD, Data Visualization, Matlab, SQL, Python, Javascript, Ruby, Docker Containers, and Chrome Extension Development, to name a few important ones.


Clients of Upwork include some big names like Zendesk, Dropbox, Airbnb, GE, UCLA, and Microsoft. LD Talent has clients that include startups, large companies like Infosys and Baidu, and universities like Yale, Northwestern, Stanford, and University of Wisconsin.

Talent Network Culture

Particularly given the new normal, Upwork has what we would call a future of work culture. Still, critics of the platform label it as a free for all, a “Craiglist of Software Development”, and a Tragedy of the Commons. Let’s compare it to LD Talent.

LD Talent has a culture of entrepreneurship, geeking out, HCI, ICT4D, Economic Development, and Digital Nomad Friendliness. Because of its’ intentional features, its critics say that it requires a good amount of involvement since you have to approve / reject the developer work sessions (unless you go on auto-approve mode). That being said, LD founders’ are on the LD slack available to help on notice, since the platform is not as large as Upwork.

Budget Control

LD Talent offers budget control through slack based work sessions which are somewhere between Upwork’s developer-friendly unchecked hourly time tracking and its client-friendly milestone escrow system.

Here are the reviews of LD Talent and you can see reviews of Upwork as well.