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Malt: Matching the right freelancer skills with client needs for more successful projects

About Malt

Malt is one of Europe’s leading freelance platforms, connecting more than 200,000 skilled freelancers with 30,000 companies. Malt efficiently matches corporate projects with independent professionals, while streamlining the legal and administrative hurdles involved in freelance contracts.

Industries: Technology
Location: France

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Malt used BigQuery and Google Kubernetes Engine to build a data-driven platform with a recommendation engine that matches freelancer skills to client needs and gets smarter with every project.

Google Cloud results

  • 98% of projects receive a response within a day due to a smarter platform powered by BigQuery
  • Handles data from double the users, from 100,000 to 200,000, without expanding platform team
  • Faster detection and resolution of performance problems with Google Cloud monitoring with Datadog integration

98% customer matches made on the platform are a success

The way we work is changing. Roughly half of hiring managers surveyed in a recent report say that COVID-19 has made them more likely to use freelancers in general. Companies are using freelancers to respond flexibly to peaks in workloads, find hard-to-source specialists for their projects, and keep an eye on their bottom line. In France alone, there has been a 126% increase in freelancers in the past 10 years. More and more skilled workers are bucking the traditional corporate path and choosing the flexibility and freedom of being an independent professional. To make their projects happen, more than 200,000 companies and freelancers choose Malt.

“When we started Malt, I was a freelancer, and Vincent, also a co-founder, was an entrepreneur,” says Hugo Lassiège, co-founder and CTO. “On my side, it was hard to find exciting, innovative projects, and I wasn’t happy with the market’s lack of transparency. Meanwhile, Vincent found it difficult to source freelancers with the right skills and level of experience. Our mission with Malt was first to provide a platform for both sides to meet, and then to help them with the details.”

Since Malt’s founding in 2013, more than 80% of France’s top 40 public companies, including Total and L’Oreal, have worked with a Malt freelancer. For companies, Malt’s key offering is its powerful AI, instantly recommending the best freelancers for a job. For freelancers, technical features such as secure payment and automatic invoicing are great benefits, as is joining the supportive freelance community that Malt promotes. Malt organizes meetups, training events, and webinars every year, as well as working with partners to offer bank accounts, health insurance, professional insurance, and more.

The number of freelancers using Malt’s platform grew from 50,000 in 2016, to 100,000 in 2019, to 200,000 in 2020. As the user base of freelancers and companies expanded, the company doubled in size nearly every year behind the scenes, to a team of around 200 today. The rapidly growing company faced several challenges of scale, namely infrastructure, monitoring, and analytics. In 2018, Malt decided to evaluate cloud platforms to see which could best meet its changing needs.

“We had a lot of discussions, and we changed our approach to the infrastructure. We decided that we needed to scale our developments and to see our infrastructure as a platform of neutral services that should help every team to move faster.”

Hugo Lassiège, CTO, Malt

Ambitiously re-imagining platform infrastructure

Having started its cloud journey back in 2017, by the summer of 2018, Malt was struggling with the features—and lack of features—of the cloud platforms it was using. “We had to really reinvent the wheel for many services, especially in security network installation. Services that should be present, in my opinion, for all major cloud providers,” shares Hugo.

Malt’s cloud engineer evaluated Google Cloud against another major cloud platform, and the diversity of services and solutions available via Google itself as well as through Google Cloud Marketplace turned out to be the deciding factor.

Initially, Malt’s transition plan was to simply move its application to Compute Engine, with an ambitious initial transition timeline of just two to three months. Midway through, however, Malt decided to use the transition as an opportunity to upgrade and modernize all of its tooling for application deployment.

“We had a lot of discussions, and we changed our approach to the infrastructure. We decided that we needed to scale our developments and to see our infrastructure as a platform of neutral services that should help every team to move faster,” Hugo explains. By containerizing its application with Docker, Malt ensures that each part runs independently of others, cutting down time spent hunting down and fixing errors. Using Google Kubernetes Engine for orchestration allows Malt to automatically scale its resources in reaction to its current usage.

As a company with such a data-driven focus, BigQuery was the natural choice to meet its data needs, supported by Cloud Storage, as well as solutions found on Cloud Marketplace, such as MongoDB Atlas, Datadog, and Fivetran. Even with this jump in migration complexity, Malt put its application into production in March 2019, just seven months after beginning its transition.

Since it was established, Malt has been characterized by a strong tech culture, a skilled development team, and a need to know exactly what’s going on in the nuts and bolts of its platform. Considering themselves the best people to make decisions that would continue to impact the company for years after the migration, Malt’s management decided to transition without the help of a Google Cloud partner, relying instead on support from its technical account manager and Google Cloud documentation. “The Google Cloud team helped us to really understand some of the problems we were having,” says Hugo. “The tools are quite standard, so after that, we could find out ourselves, or find a solution on the web.”

“With BigQuery and Google Kubernetes Engine, we’ve been able to simplify how we collect and transform data, to unlock new use cases for our data scientists, and to use this data to create and improve our recommendation engines. That’s been a huge improvement for us.”

Hugo Lassiège, CTO, Malt

Simplifying, collecting, and powerfully transforming data

Analytics have been crucial to Malt’s activities since its formation in 2013. The sales team analyzes performance by geographical and activity areas, the product team tests how customers respond to new features, the finance team predicts where next to invest, and of course, the data scientists behind Malt’s company-freelancer recommendations all rely on the rich data generated by user activity.

The main impact of the transition has been on the data platform itself. The new platform, built using GKE and BigQuery, powers the Malt Plus recommendation tool. “With BigQuery and Google Kubernetes Engine, we’ve been able to simplify how we collect and transform data, to unlock new use cases for our data scientists, and to use this data to create and improve our recommendation engines. That’s been a huge improvement for us,” says Hugo.

Customers enter their requirements, which are analyzed by Malt’s AI algorithm and matched up with the most compatible freelancers more efficiently than ever before. 98% of projects or “missions” receive a response from a freelancer within one day, and around 50% of missions lead to a working relationship with a Malt freelancer. “From what I’ve learned by talking to others in the industry, and in my own freelancing experience, the typical success rate can be a lot lower, so I’d say this is quite an improvement,” adds Hugo.

“Two years ago, the platform team was focused on how to run the platform itself, now it can focus more on the different services that it can provide. Despite handling much more data than before, we haven’t needed to grow the platform team.”

Hugo Lassiège, CTO, Malt

Cutting out monitoring noise to focus on what is important

Larger and more complex applications require more monitoring, but to keep track of performance, downtime, costs, and issues leads to constant alerts and notifications. If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If a notification arrives in a busy instant messaging channel, does anyone pay attention? Alerts were spread across multiple channels, some arriving by email, some through one Slack channel or another. Among all the noise, the signal was lost. Malt’s product team found it hard to pinpoint the health of the application at any one time or to understand its cost and the evolution of that cost over time.

Malt has streamlined its monitoring by integrating Datadog with Google Cloud. Google Cloud’s native monitoring already provides a clear view of different services and their costs, while Datadog collects and displays detailed log information for the entire cloud infrastructure. With increased visibility, Malt’s platform team can detect and fix problems as soon as they occur. “Two years ago, the platform team was focused on how to run the platform itself, now it can focus more on the different services that it can provide,” Hugo adds, “Despite handling much more data than before, we haven’t needed to grow the platform team.”

Changing how companies think about hiring

Malt’s next steps are continued expansion across Europe. From its beginnings in France, it now has a presence in Spain, Germany, and soon the Netherlands. Its recommendation engine, most effective in its native French market, can now use the improved data platform to improve engine performance in other countries and languages.

The company is also turning its powerful data platform towards its advertising. “We are able to collect and aggregate data from multiple marketing streams directly in BigQuery,” says Hugo. “By combining this data with the data that we know on our customers, we can measure more precisely where it is efficient to invest and start generating ad campaigns automatically.”

For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a seismic shift in the workplace, increasing remote work, dispersing teams geographically, and accelerating the move away from full-time staff positions to on-demand contracts. For Malt, it is time for the new workplace to catch up.

“We want to help companies understand how the market has changed and support them to face its new challenges. And for freelancers, who are at the forefront of this change, we want to deliver the tools to help them build a successful and efficient business,” says Hugo. “This year was weird for everyone, but we believe that Malt and its community will grow in 2021 and that we will have a lot of good news to share.”

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Malt

Malt is one of Europe’s leading freelance platforms, connecting more than 200,000 skilled freelancers with 30,000 companies. Malt efficiently matches corporate projects with independent professionals, while streamlining the legal and administrative hurdles involved in freelance contracts.

Industries: Technology
Location: France