For this hackathon, we've built a clickable demo of a freelance marketplace called ETHWorks Marketplace that can be built on top of TalentLayer.


Freelance marketplaces have allowed over a third of the global workforce to access jobs previously out of their reach, creating a global, cultural, and economic revolution.

These marketplaces became a key tool for gig workers and the companies that hire them - as they’ve taken over a larger and larger share of the freelancing market, their inefficiencies have become more apparent.

Popular platforms charge between 10% and 25% on transactions - severely inflating the price of hiring for companies and making it harder for freelancers to make a living.

In existing platforms, reputation systems are siloed. Freelancers can’t leverage a reputation built on one platform to gain work on another platform.

These marketplaces also face problems with building a balanced userbase; trying to grow both sides of the marketplace sufficiently takes major time and monetary investment.

TalentLayer Protocol is an integration layer that will transform the talent marketplace ecosystem into a sustainable, interoperable, integrated economy of scale. TalentLayer is a decentralized backend for gig marketplaces that will fuel a future where freelancers keep more of their pay, companies can access larger pools of talent, and reputations live forever.

TalentLayer will unlock billions of dollars of economic waste and empower people along the way.

Design & Usage

The TalentLayer Protocol is a blockchain-based network for facilitating talent agreements; reputation management, contracts, escrow, matchmaking, etc. It is designed to allow for any number of interfaces built to interact with the protocol.

Interfaces can be built by anyone, and can be designed to fulfill various niche needs, as explored in the following examples:

Example 1: A DAO creates a freelance marketplace for their ecosystem. They automatically sort for and make viewable only freelancers with experience keywords of interest to the DAO, and DAO-sponsored job posts. The platform accepts only Ethereum and does not have any fiat onramp or offramp. It is maintained in an entirely decentralized manner.

Example 2: An association of React developers creates a simple platform that allows them to view and apply for jobs relating to React that are available on TalentMarket.

Example 3: A freelancer creates a simple invoicing tool that uses TalentLayer’s escrow and dispute management, and prompts customers to leave a review after contract fulfillment (which is then populated to the freelancer’s TalentLayer identity).

Example 4: An major job posting platform creates an integration with the Protocol to automatically pull/push talent profiles and automatically pull/post jobs to the platform. They use their existing interface and backend, but through the integration are able to tap into the economy of scale of the Protocol.

This design also allows for a future where all freelancing marketplaces can tap into one economy of scale and access aggregated reputations.

  1. Economies of scale. What if we didn’t just have the economy of scale that happened within a single marketplace like Upwork, but the entire userbase of all of the freelancing platforms in the world? This will be for talent sourcing aggregation what Amazon did for Ecommerce aggregation of demand and sourcing (one database for many of the the Ecommerce companies of the world). Marketplaces are incentivized to build on the protocol to tap into the large talent pool and pool of companies hiring (once the platform is mature, the larger freelancer marketplaces will have no choice but to integrate).

  2. Reputation management. If you are a freelancer on Upwork, you can’t (easily) use your reputation there to get work on Fiverr. That sucks. If two talent marketplaces are both built on TalentLayer, the talent profiles associated with members on those platforms are the same - you possess the one identity within the protocol ecosystem, and any platform integrating with it accesses that identity. More data on who you are working with benefits both sides of the marketplace; companies and freelancers.

This architecture allows for interface maintainers to make various design choices on what their user interfaces display to their users and how their interfaces interact with TalentLayer including…

  • Selective moderation of posts based on the interface’s preference
  • Selective filtering/specialization of talent/jobs based on the interface’s preference
  • Fee configuration (How is charged on top of the base protocol fee for doing business on a specific interface?)
  • Payment support (Should an interface accept fiat, various cryptos, one crypto, etc)
  • Identity verification (no verification vs Kapcha vs KYC vs etc)

This architecture also solves the blockchain regulatory catch-22 of both needing to comply with sanctions or content legality and needing to build something censorship-resistant. This is because the protocol itself is segregated from the interface and entities operating the interface.

The protocol, the job post history, reputation histories, etc, can not be corrupted or censored - it is impossible to remove content.

The interfaces (and the companies and individuals who run them) have the choice of what to filter or not filter on their interfaces - allowing them to comply with their jurisdiction’s laws easily (ranging from removal of elicit work to sanctions compliance).


TalentLayer will be targeting Web 3 as our entry market. Addressing our Entry Market TalentLayer’s team has great positioning to become an interoperable backend for facilitating gig work in Web 3. One of the top problems cited by projects in web 3 is the talent shortage; there is a small pool of qualified talent and projects are scrambling to solve this: investing millions in hackathons, sponsored events, online recruiting, and more. Unfortunately, these efforts aren’t sufficiently solving the problem.

Problems with Gig Work in Web 3:

The Exclusion Problem: Big hirers (including ecosystem foundation, major and minor protocols and platforms, etc) are unable to use traditional gig/freelancing marketplaces because these marketplaces ONLY allow fiat-based transactions. The decentralized hirers most often do not have the ability to pay in fiat (they must use their own ecosystem token, or USDC/stable coins more generally).

The KYC Problem: As legally incorporated entities, Ecosystem foundations have reporting requirements on where their funds are distributed. For this reason, they must KYC (Know Your Customer) workers who receive funds (no matter how small the compensation). This means that foundations have trouble using existing hiring DAO tools like Coordinape because they don’t have KYC features (KYC has to be manually done outside of the platform).

The Economy of Scale Problem: Ecosystems, especially smaller ones, are struggling to attract the right talent to help them grow. Many ecosystems have dozens if not tens of dozens of open gig jobs at any given time - from marketing and graphic design to bug fixes. Unlike companies using generalist freelancing marketplaces like Upwork, DAOs resort to using (due to some of the problems listed above) their own job boards, bounty systems, etc. This limits them to freelancers who 1) know about their ecosystem and 2) know where to access the jobs. Small talent pool = slow growth for your ecosystem.

The Onramp Problem: Large numbers of web 2 workers desire to work in web 3, but there are no clear rails to do so. On the talent’s side, they want to work in web 3 but are overwhelmed with where to go, what projects are real, and most importantly, how to get started. On the ecosystem’s side, Web 3 projects market job opportunities to the same communities already involved. Jobs are given to people that are friends of friends of founders. Ecosystems say they want desperately to hire in more talent, but they don’t know how to walk the talk.

Where is the disconnect? There’s no clear path to getting started. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve chatted with people trying to get into web 3 but who haven’t made the jump because there aren’t internships at many protocols, they don’t even know about gig work boards for DAO members, and job boards are getting them no responses. One of the best ways to start a new career is to start with gig work. “Just try it out, in a low-stakes environment.”

TalentLayer provides the rails for this.

The Siloization Problem: As a result of the competitive L1, L2, etc landscape, blockchain protocols have a tendency to 1. Be protective over the devs in their ecosystem and 2. Actively NOT collaborate between ecosystems. Some ecosystems are more extreme with this than others, but most ecosystems do this to some extent.

For example; Look at the lack of multi-ecosystem hackathons. Look at the lack of multi-ecosystem conferences.

What ecosystems are beginning to realize (and is evidenced by the recent start of multi-chain hackathons like Activate x Wormhole and Web3 Con) is most developers, especially new converts from web 2, don’t have die-hard loyalty to one chain.

Web 2 developers don’t ONLY build with Mongo DB OR SQL - they build with whatever is optimal for the specific project they are working on. Similarly, devs want to build with specific protocols when they make sense - sometimes even building components on multiple chains for one project.

This realization (that is in the midst of happening RIGHT NOW) will lead to more cross-collaboration between chain ecosystems and a transition from talent HOARDING to talent SHARING. This will be aided by TalentLayer - one interoperable backend enabling ecosystems to attract and engage each other's talent and grow their own developer base.

Why This Market?

Natural Fit of Gig-Style Work: Blockchain ecosystem teams LIVE off of “gig” style work - individual contributors completing small tasks for compensation. This is the perfect entry market for TalentLayer because there isn’t any other sector that operates in this manner; via peer-to-peer collaboration and decentralized organizational structures - often without employees.

Timing: As referenced in The Siloization Problem, we have a HUGE opportunity to become the defacto cross-chain talent network. This is because we are just at the cusp of ecosystems and their foundations deciding that it’s better to collaborate than compete. The importance of this can not be understated.

Go to Market Execution

The TalentLayer ecosystem will work with an L1 or L2 ecosystem foundation to host the first marketplace on TalentLayer, using our White-label Frontend and TalentLayer Core backend.

  • This first marketplace will demonstrate what you can build using TalentLayer
  • Why ecosystems? Ecosystem foundations exist to support the growth of projects on their chain; in large part, this means supporting job seekers and projects hiring in their ecosystem. TalentLayer enables easy onboarding of new talent into ecosystems, allowing for more rapid growth.

Minimum viable components for TalentLayer Core

  • TalentLayer Reputation System
  • TalentLayer Escrow and Dispute Resolution System
  • TalentLayer Jobs Repository
  • TalentLayer Incentive System Alpha (in consideration)

Open-source a Whitelabel frontend of a talent marketplace (“White-label Frontend”)

  • This will enable anyone to easily spin up a marketplace natively integrating with TalentLayer

In this document, TalentLayer Technical Requirements, you will find details on TalentLayer Core’s various components and the White-label Frontend.

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