Gary Swart

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Gary Swart
File:ODesk CEO Gary Swart.jpg
Education University of Maryland, College Park
Occupation Venture Partner
Employer Polaris Partners
Known for Tech exec in the “online work” industry, entrepreneurship mentor

Gary Swart is an Venture Partner at Polaris Partners.[1] He is best known for being the former CEO of oDesk.[2]

Education and career

Swart received his bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Maryland, College Park.[3] He began his career in sales, leading corporate sales at Pure Software and Rational Software. From 2003-2004, he was a business unit executive for small and medium business sales for the Americas at IBM’s Rational Software Product Group. In 2004, he became VP of Worldwide Sales at Intellibank, where he was responsible for leading the sales organization.[4]

Swart joined oDesk as Chief Executive Officer in September 2005.[5] Under his leadership, oDesk grew to more than 10 million registered freelancers working for 3 million businesses around the world. In 2014, oDesk merged with Elance to become the World's largest online workplace.[6][no citations needed here]

Also under Swart’s leadership, oDesk implemented staffing for the company internally that heavily incorporated freelancers working on oDesk’s own platform -- for every internal employee in the company’s headquarters, there were approximately three “full-time equivalent” team members working for oDesk in their online workplace.[7]

In June 2014, Swart joined Polaris Ventures as the first venture partner focused on technology on the West Coast.[8]

Speaking and Contributed Writing

Swart is a mentor to entrepreneurs and students, and frequently speaks to these groups about the challenges growing businesses face.[9][10][11][12] In 2012 alone, Swart gave more than 30 talks to universities, incubators and other organizations fostering entrepreneurship.

As the CEO of oDesk, Swart was also a thought leader in the future of work, how best to hire and manage teams, and the rise of the “freelance economy.”[13] He has spoken at the Inc. Leadership Conference, The Economist’s Ideas Economy panel,[14] South by Southwest,[15] TechCrunch 50,[16] GigaOM Net:Work,[17] and at Harvard Business School which teaches a case study on oDesk.[18]

His commentary has appeared in a variety of publications including LinkedIn,[19] Forbes,[20] TechCrunch,[21] and The Washington Post.[22] He has also appeared on numerous TV and radio shows, including CNBC,[23] BBC,[24] Bloomberg Television,[25] NPR,[26] and the Fox Business Network.[27]


  1. "TEAM / GARY SWART, VENTURE PARTNER". Polaris Partners. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  2. Karpie, Andrew. ""Online Staffing" - Seeing the Forest For the Trees". Staffing Industry Analysts. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  3. Winner, Rebecca. "60 Seconds with Gary Swart ’83". SMITH BUSINESS Magazine. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  4. "Gary Swart Biography". DLD 2013 Conference. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  5. Swart, Gary. "Gary Swart LinkedIn Profile". Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  6. "oDesk and Elance merge, forming one giant freelancer company (updated) | VentureBeat" (in en-US). 
  7. Karpie, Andrew. "Eureka!! The New Potential for Scaling a Business with "Contingent Workforce"". Staffing Industry Analysts.!!-The-New-Potential-for-Scaling-a-Business-with-Contingent-Workforce. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  8. Shieber, Jonathan. "Polaris Partners Grows Out West, Adding Ex-oDesk Chief Gary Swart". TechCrunch. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  9. StartX - Stanford Student Startup Accelorator. "Gary Swart, CEO of oDesk, Shares the Non-Founder CEO Perspective". 
  10. Q Street Startups. "Amplify Mentor Series w/ Gary Swart". 
  11. Start-Up Chile. "Scale Your Startup Smarter: A Fireside Chat with oDesk CEO Gary Swart". 
  12. Silicon Beach. "Silicon Beach Drinks Sydney - Special Guest: Gary Swart, CEO oDesk". 
  13. Boyd, Stowe. "Taking the friction out of a fast-and-loose work economy". GigaOm Pro. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  14. "Ideas Economy: Human Potential". PDF (The Economist). September 14–15, 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  15. "Clay Spinuzzi to Speak at South by Southwest Interactive 2010". University of Texas at Austin, Department of Rhetoric and Writing. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  16. "Presenting Company: oDesk". TechCrunch 50. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  17. Etherington, Darrell. "Work 3.0 is just getting underway, says oDesk’s Gary Swart". GigaOm. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  18. Groysberg, Boris; David A. Thomas; Jennifer M. Tydlaska (February 2011). "oDesk: Changing How the World Works". Harvard Business School Case 411-078. Harvard Business School. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  19. Swart, Gary. "Gary Swart, LinkedIn Influencer". LinkedIn. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  20. Swart, Gary. "Welcome To The New Millennial Economy: Goodbye Ownership, Hello Access". Forbes. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  21. Swart, Gary. "Work 3.0: How The Employment Model Needs to Change". TechCrunch. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  22. Swart, Gary (8 May 2012). "How to hire the best talent in the world". The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  23. "oDesk CEO on the Online Work Market". Television Broadcast. CNBC: Squawk on the Street. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  24. "World Business Report 02/11/2012". Radio Broadcast. BBC World Service. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  25. Chang, Emily. "Does Working From Home Hurt Productivity?". Television Broadcast. Bloomberg. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  26. Simon, Scott. "The 'Skills Missmatch': Failing To Meet Job Demand". Radio Broadcast. NPR. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  27. Asman, David; Liz Claman. "The Future of Freelancing". Television Broadcast. Fox Business. Retrieved 19 October 2012.