I work for Autodesk. In the past I have worked for other companies like Océ, Buzzsaw.com, GTE, and Honeywell. What all of these jobs have had in common is that they required at least 40 hours per week, included a guaranteed salary, medical benefits, and other perks as part of a total compensation package.
I happen to be on the board of my homeowners association. This is not a paying job. I am a volunteer. The perks are that I am "in the know" about what's going on in the community and can help do my part to make where we live better for my family and neighbors. I happen to be the association Secretary, so I manage our association web site. Actually I created the web site. Before I was Secretary, Crown Harbor didn't really have a web presence.
My work at Autodesk involves maintaining the Autodesk Labs site, which I do with an Admin tool that is Drupal-based.
I know old-school HTML quite well and frequently edit the HTML directly that makes up blog posts like this one. It is this knowledge that let me create the Crown Harbor web site using just a text editor called TextPad without any fancy tools. The problem with my knowledge is that it is indeed old school. Web sites today use a different approach than what I have learned in my past jobs. I summarized the issues on a web page.
Now enter a company called oDesk. oDesk is a different breed of company. Though it has a few full-time employees, the vast majority of its employees are contractors. The contractors do not receive a guaranteed salary and benefits. They only get paid when they work. oDesk connects people with jobs to people who want to work.
I was able to post a job on oDesk (the HTML page I created) and get bids on having the site updated so that its architecture would be more modern. I would then take what the contractor did on a few of the pages and apply it to the rest of the site. I would then maintain the site going forward using what I have learned from the files updated by the contractor. Simple enough?
Within 24 hours of my job posting, I received 8 bids from contractors all around the globe (e.g., Singapore, India, United States), but I also got this:
I inquired as to why and got this:
Is it me? I thought my job description on the HTML page covered function, style, performance, and schedule -- all of the basics. I feel I presented the information in a thorough, detailed, and serious way. I admit I did not have intermediate deliverables because I am asking a contractor to update 3 files. I didn't relay any of my "company" history because this is a job I am personally funding for the benefit of my association and to increase my own web knowledge.
With regard to the 8 contractors who bid on my job, I asked some follow up questions, and selected one. I was able to pay $300 to oDesk using my PayPal account. It was just that easy. Let's see how this turns out.
Trying a new business model for web development is alive in the lab.