Sign up to receive 5 free days of our daily summary for tech news.

Special Offer: Try out The Information today for only $10/month for your first 3 months. 

Startups Look to Philippines for Low-Tech Help

The renovated San Francisco warehouse that serves as the headquarters of tech startup Thumbtack, replete with exposed timber and an inviting open kitchen, was all but empty one recent weekday afternoon. The company has raised $48.2 million from investors including Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global Management to build a local services company to compete with the likes of Craigslist, Yelp and Angie’s List—but a good chunk of its workforce is in the Philippines.

Thumbtack employs nearly 500 people in the Philippines through an arrangement with the outsourcing firm oDesk. It’s just one of the many startups using services such as oDesk, CrowdFlower, Amazon Mechanical Turk, TaskUs, Freelancer, Guru, Job Stock and Cloud Crowd to hire workers around the globe.

Many companies are reluctant to discuss their use of virtual workforces, in part because they don’t want to be branded as outsourcers. (Spokespeople for Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest did not comment for this story.) The debate around outsourcing has mostly focussed on big companies moving their IT operations to firms such as India-based Infosys, but moving low-tech work overseas can also feed concerns that the tech boom isn’t producing enough jobs.

What Is The Information?

Notes bb3aa5069205d702dda37fc71dc6f1c59df2310c4379304e9f1199f052af4884

Exclusive Articles

We broke it first. Receive original reporting you won't read anywhere else from the largest newsroom in tech.

Notebook b5103017ee163370a1667c9ce59ab0ef023875a17888105d26c185cadf31bb69

Daily news analysis

Every weeknight, we'll send you our reporters’ views on the day’s top tech news—distilled into one email.

Conference calls c9e664e8b96ee347d3e92b8309938f268422b9db98cfabca5c826fbb75054b23

Conference calls

Get access to our reporters and other top executives with monthly deep-dive calls into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles.

Events 499acedd16cffc41445edd76bfd302b2836c2a27419890f17130a6b10e2aa3df

Special Events

For no extra fee, get access to more than a dozen events yearly, from intimate dinners to larger gatherings with marquee speakers.

What else is included in my subscription?

Become a contributor

Share your views and find other subscribers by completing your profile. You’ll be listed in our contributor directory.

Slack community

Discuss topics and current events with our subscriber-only Slack group and share news about your company with other subscribers.

Annual Subscriber only benefits:

Org Charts

Access the only collection of tech company org charts. Our expanding database includes companies like Amazon, Snap, and Uber.

Crypto Newsletter

Our experts investigate the latest in the crypto world to keep you in-the-know about the movements of digital currencies.

Stay up to date on Silicon Valley

Sign up for Jessica Lessin’s (The Information’s CEO & Founder) free Saturday newsletter and also receive a complimentary week of our daily afternoon tech commentary email.

Already a subscriber? Log in here

“This woman in the Philippines beat an American at an English test,” recounts Jonathan Swanson of Thumbtack. “This was the jaw-dropping moment for us—whoa, we can get quality and effectiveness at a totally different price point.”