Taso Du Val, Co-Founder & CEO of Toptal


By Peter High, published on Forbes

Taso Du Val had multiple experiences as lead engineer at start-ups, including at Fotolog, which was acquired by Hi-Media for $100 million, and at Slide, which was acquired by Google for $228 million. His first experience as CEO came while running a small engineering consulting firm. During this time, Du Val developed an international team of co-workers, and discovered that the talent he could access rivaled the best talent in Silicon Valley. US-based companies often have difficulty tapping this high quality and cost competitive talent, but as the war for talent in Silicon Valley and in other US and European tech hubs has become more acute, better alternatives were needed.

Du Val co-founded Toptal, a freelance engineer marketplace, in 2010 to fill that gap. The company’s investors include Andreessen Horowitz and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo. The company boasts a large and growing client list that includes Airbnb, Rand McNally, JPMorgan Chase, IDEO, and Pfizer. Du Val was selected by Forbes as one of its 30 under 30 in Enterprise Technology in 2015.

Among the most fascinating developments within the company has been both its virtual workforce (the company has no offices) and the technology it has developed. Toptal built its own enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and business process management (BPM) solutions to ensure that they seamlessly meshed, and that the company controlled the pace at which each evolved. These were major technical feats, which are quite unusual in this day-and-age given the fact that there are off-the-shelf versions of each that work quite well. Du Val claims that this provides an advantage in as much as each works with the other seamlessly, and the company is in control of all updates to the technology.

Peter High: Please provide a bit of a background into Toptal’s founding and mission.

Taso Du Val: When we started the company, about seven years ago, the talent marketplace was going in two directions. There were large players such as Pivotal, Accenture, Infosys, and other big shops that had expensive medium-high to high skilled labor within them. On the opposite side, there was, Elance, and a few other freelance marketplaces. They had high skilled labor, but it was difficult to find because it was mixed in with tens of millions of users of varying skill levels. We recognized the opportunity in the market and began our journey.

High: What market segments do you focus on? Are there certain sizes or industries that have been particularly ripe for Toptal?

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