I’m fascinated by the future of work. Ever since I heard Sebastian Thrun talk about it on This Week in Startups, I've been hooked and have been on a quest to understand understand the topic as intimately as possible.

A month ago, I published a 3,000 word primer on anything you need to know about the future of work. Now, it’s time to focus on some of the companies who are busy building the future of work, today!

*Note, the “future of work impact score” is 100% subjective, but I thought it would be fun. Don’t agree with a score? Let me know on Twitter!

Altschool

What is Altschool?

AltSchool is a comprehensive platform for learning that puts students at the center. Rooted in educational research, their agile products and services enable increasingly learner-centric experiences. Altschool currently has schools in SF and NY, targeting the K-12 demographic.

PubLoft’s take

Altschool takes K-12 learning in a whole new, and necessary, direction. Through implementing individualized learning and technical problem solving, Altschool is reframing what education looks like to a modern family in the 21st century. Unlike several other companies in education who are starting at the college level, Altschool is starting right from kindergarten. That gives them an advantage. It's a unique positioning, as the future of education is being built with today’s kids.

Future of work impact score

7/10

Atrium

What is Atrium?

Atrium is a full-service law firm for startups. By using machine learning to help make their lawyers more efficient, they plan to grow faster than the traditional law firm. Their goal is to democratize legal services and make it more transparent to startups working with them. Atrium was started by multiple time founder Justin Kan, who wants to solve the challenge of legal help for young companies—something he dealt with while working on his other companies, including Twitch, which exited for $1 billion to Amazon.

PubLoft's take

We’re a customer on Atrium. We pay them $2,000 a month to make sure all of our legal needs are met and let me tell you, this is the future of services. The experience is, dare I say, delightful! Our lawyer (Hi Kei!) and the sales team (Yo Tim!) are so fun to work with, and I hope more vertical marketplaces grow as Atrium has.

Future of work impact score

8/10

Career Karma

What is Career Karma?

Career Karma helps people get into tech by finding the right coding bootcamp or job for them. It looks almost like a an early community for those wishing to break into the industry. I say that because there’s their bootcamp search, but the founder also has a podcast called breaking into startups. It makes me think this is more than just a coding bootcamp marketplace. There’s a more significant play here.

PubLoft’s take

I follow the CEO, Ruben Harris, on Twitter and I have to say that these guys are missionaries, not mercenaries. They really care about the idea that anyone can break into tech and they want to make it easier to do so. They have the backing of Y Combinator, which gives them an edge in my books as well. Personally, I’m betting on the founders. I don’t know the viability of the company, but the founders seem like they are going places.

Future of work impact score

8/10

Catch

What is Catch?

Catch is a way for independent contractors to manage all of their benefits in a simple dashboard. From retirement savings to health insurance and taxes, it makes it all super simple so freelancers can do what they do best… work on their craft!

PubLoft’s Take

Let’s forget for a second that Catch is pretty much the hottest company in YC19 this year. Their team is really welcoming—I’ve been talking with Jess, their growth lead, to see how we can get our freelancers on the platform. Honestly, this problem is a big one for freelancers, almost as big as finding work. I think this is the team to push forward the solution, and it looks like they have the capital to get a good head start.

Future of work impact score

9/10

Deel

What is Deel?

Deel is a simple way for clients to pay freelancers. Their software is the single source of truth on how a freelancer is getting paid, when, and for what. It’s commonplace for one side to always get screwed, but Deel makes it really hard for that to happen with their contract system.

PubLoft's take

As a future customer of Deel, what a brilliant idea. Paying freelancers through Paypal has friction, and some clients never pay their freelancers after work gets done! Deel is a no-brainer product that no one has built yet. Alex, who I’ve met, is really sharp. I have no doubt he is going to change the way all freelancers get paid with Deel.

Future of work impact score

7/10

Flockjay

What is Flockjay?

Flockjay’s value prop is “Learn tech sales. Get a top tech job. Learn advanced sales from experts. Remotely. If you don’t get a job, the entire course is free.” They are taking the Lambda School model and having it work for tech sales. This is the second company out of Y Combinator to have an ISA (income share agreement) business model, and I have a feeling it won’t be the last.

PubLoft’s take

Shaan, their CEO, and his team have so much sales experience. If there was any team to make it happen, it’s this one. I wonder about the impact of Flockjay vs. Lambda School because of how hard it is to find a salesperson vs. a developer. Still, I think there’s tons of room to grow in this market.

Future of work impact score

7/10

Gigster

What is Gigster?

Gigster is a creation of Roger Dickey, famously known for founding Mafia Wars inside of Zynga. Gigster started off with the mission of being the world’s best development partner. They take the top 1% of developers and pair them up with each other to work on client projects as freelancers. It’s pretty much a tech-enabled agency. With funding from the Crème de la Crème, they have a high standard to reach.

PubLoft’s take

It’s never a good sign when the CEO jumps ship after founding within 10 years. Still, Gigster recently found a new CEO to replace Roger who is moving on to bigger (and better?) things. We feel like Gigster will have a hard time scaling the services aspect of their company and will struggle. With the visionary founder out of the picture, I’m not sure what direction Gigster has right now.

Future of work impact score

5/10

Keeper

What is Keeper?

Keeper is an automatic tax write-off software for freelancers. When you’re self-employed, it’s hard to keep track of every opportunity there is to write off an expense. Keeper makes it dead simple to get a maximum return on taxes. Freelancers end up paying less, and they spend less time figuring it out.

Our take

Honestly, tax write-offs are something that I feel are out of sight and out of mind for some freelancers. This is a space in which we could use a lot of innovation. There aren’t too many companies working on this, and Keeper seems well-positioned to solve the problem. We also have a partnership with them for GigLoft members. The founders are great.

Future of work impact score

7/10

Lambda School

What is Lambda School?

Lambda School is an immersive 9-month program that gives you the tools and training you need to launch your new career—from the comfort of your own home. Get a CS education and don’t pay for it until you get a job. They are now even offering living stipends. Yes, they will pay you to go to school, and don’t expect you to pay anything back until you get a job.

PubLoft’s take

Lambda School is a once-in-a-decade type company. I have 100% conviction that Lambda School will be a 50-billion-dollar company in the next ten years. Austen Allred has found a gaping hole in the education system and has raised $48 million to help fill it with something better. Lambda is on fire right now, and I don’t expect anything to slow it down.

Future of work impact score

10/10

Nomad List

What is Nomad List?

Nomad List is a social network for digital nomads to connect and travel the world together. With a paid membership comes access to the very active slack community as well as the software that digital nomad Pieter Levels has been working on for the past few years. There are tools to track trips, meet other people, hire remote workers, and more.

Our take

This could be as big as Myspace was in 2003… so pretty big, but not necessarily enduring. As Gen Z hits the workforce, they will want to find outlets of people like them. Nomad List houses all sorts of people who want to live a life full of freedom. I think unless Pieter adds in a more natural way to get work within the platform, it will be the Myspace of its generation, and a Facebook is waiting to be built.

Future of work impact score

4/10

Papa

What is Papa?

Papa connects college students to older adults who need assistance with transportation, household chores, technology lessons, companionship, and other services. It’s “grandkids on demand.” Coming right out of Y Combinator, this is a new take on a marketplace model that fills some significant needs… on both sides of the coin! In a way, students need older adults as much as the older adults need the students.

PubLoft’s take

What a brilliant idea for a company! It’s a non-obvious idea that sounds obvious once you hear it. I’ve had Andrew on my podcast before, and there isn’t a more welcoming guy in the world. I think Papa is taking on a dinosaur industry with minimal competition from other startups. Due to its niche wedge into the market, they are well positioned to run far.

Future of work impact score

9/10

PubLoft

What is PubLoft?

PubLoft is aiming to be the best place in the world for startups to get inbound marketing services. We're powered by freelancers around the world, and our goal is to build a future where becoming a freelancer is simple and—dare I say it—fun. While PubLoft grows its customer base, freelancers are hanging out in our community slack called GigLoft. Together, these two brands are shining a light for freelancers and startups looking to grow without spending 70% of their fundraising on ads.

Mat's take

We've identified some massive problems for freelancers and startups. We're currently in the process of solving for them. We know that tackling startups' most pressing challenge, sustainable growth, is an important one. In addition, giving freelancers a community, gigs, and benefits is going to pan out for everyone in the long run. The fact that I can see the early seeds of incredible culture inside of PubLoft/GigLoft gives me confidence that we will be a significant influence on the future of work.

Future of work impact score

10/10 - I'm biased ;)

Slack

What is Slack?

Slack is one of the fastest-growing workplace communication platforms out there, and it’s also a fantastic tool on top of which to build communities. It allows remote teams to communicate in a way that makes sense to that team. With hundreds of plugs and emojis built in, it’s easy to create a culture with Slack at the helm of communication.

PubLoft’s take

Slack is just getting started. It’s been only a half a decade and they have hundreds of thousands if not millions of people using it to grow their team. I see additional communities being built on top of Slack in a more structured format. All I know is that communication is one of the most critical aspects of what ties a team together, and Slack enables it to be a seamless experience from anywhere in the world. Game changer.

Future of work impact score

10/10

Turing

What is Turing?

Turing is a new way to hire a development team. The beautiful UX on their website and deep wedge into startups give them an advantage. They call it vetted talent, in a virtual office. I see Turing as a newer version of Gigster. I don’t have enough information to differentiate it yet. It’s a relatively new company but Jonathan Siddharth, their CEO, seems very focussed on building the future of work. If you haven’t yet, go through their landing page. It’s a pretty fun experience.

PubLoft’s take

Honestly, this company has a lot of potential. If you look at Jonathan’s Twitter, he’s all about building for the future of work. It’s in his bio and he references it a lot. This makes me feel like his heart is in the right place while building Turing. I wonder if Turing will run into the same challenge Gigster has run into. Still, I believe in the CEO to create the right thing, even though I have never met him.

Future of work impact score

7/10

TopTal

What is TopTal?

TopTal is trying to do what Upwork did but for the top three percent of freelancers. They ultimately do the vetting on behalf of the companies, who can just go on there and know every freelancer is in the top three percent in their field. Other than that, it looks a lot like Upwork.

PubLoft’s take

We almost didn’t include this company on the list, but the fact that I keep hearing their name come up everywhere as a place to find good freelancers is why it’s up here. I don’t think they make it easy at it sounds to find talent, but I’ve also never been a customer before. I feel like TopTal might be on the way out with several more niche competitors coming in, but this could be my bias slipping in.

Future of work impact score

4/10

Triplebyte

What is Triplebyte?

Triplebyte is a streamlined way for the best developers to find top tech jobs. It has them taking a quiz, then matches them up with companies to interview with. Developers take the assessment to evaluate their skills, and if they pass, Triplebyte helps find them relevant jobs in tech in the SF and NYC markets.

PubLoft’s take

We think there is A LOT of disruption to come in the recruiting space. Staffing agencies don’t speak to millennial and Gen Z prospects how they should, and we think Triplebyte is one of the first companies trying to fill this gaping hole. I do believe there will be tons of competition in different markets, but their hold on the technical market in SF puts them in a good position.

Future of work impact score

8/10

Untitled Labs

What is Untitled Labs?

Roger Dickey, the founder of Mafia Wars and Gigster, is up to something new, and it’s looking to be a player in the future of work space. He created a search lab to find a new startup idea. Based on what he told me in person a few weeks ago, he’s very interested in the future of work, among other sectors.

PubLoft’s take

Roger is a super nice guy. He came to the LAUNCH Accelerator, gave a talk, and stayed 30 minutes after to answer all of our questions. He even handled my nervous energy quite well. Let’s be honest everyone, the guy knows how to build companies. No one knows what it will look like yet but based on that look in his eyes when you talk to him, it’s going to be big.

Future of work impact score

8/10

Y Combinator

What is Y Combinator?

Y Combinator created a new funding model for startups. Twice a year they invest a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups. The startups move to Silicon Valley for three months, during which time they work intensively with them to get the company into the best possible shape and refine their pitch to investors. Each cycle culminates in Demo Day when the startups present their companies to a carefully selected, invite-only audience.

PubLoft’s take

I’m not sure if people see this or not yet, but Y Combinator is the Harvard of the 21st century. They keep growing in applicants, they have teachers (partners), and they have a strong (and growing) alumni network. The future is much more entrepreneurial, and Sam Altman at YC figured this out when he became the company’s president in 2014 (He has since stepped down to work onOpenAI). YC is going to be a more impactful educational institution than Harvard in a century.

Future of work impact score

10/10

Zoom

What is Zoom?

Zoom is the first video-conferencing software that is reliable across the world. They broke out of a market where there was no clear leader, and they built a tool that just works. Which is hard enough in the video-conference industry. Hosting team meetings, webinar, AMAs and more, Zoom will be powering a big chunk of the video meetings had for decades to come.

PubLoft’s take

If the future work is remote, we need a video conferencing tool that can be relied on around the whole world! Right now, that’s looking to be Zoom. As I mentioned, it just works. One of the challenges with remote work is that it’s easy to get siloed. Zoom makes working with your team feel like a whiteboard session. I do think that other mediums will compete for Zoom’s market hold though.

Future of work impact score

8/10

I hope you liked the list! This will be the first of many lists we publish about the future of work. Do you want your company to on one of the next lists? Let me know a little more about it and i'd be happy to include it on a future list – Mat@publoft.com