Freelancers, Unite!

An open letter to our community, from the Jolly Founders

February 14, 2020

At Jolly, we believe the middleman is obsolete, an unnecessary obstacle to freedom.

There are 60 million Americans who freelance today—driving, delivering, designing, building, serving—but the freelance economy is governed by middlemen: staffing agencies, closed apps or closed marketplaces. They take a large cut of each freelancer’s earnings while at the same time hoarding the freelancer’s reputation data.

Freelancers are the backbone of America: soon, more than half the working population in our country will be freelancing. For too long, freelancers and gig workers have been underpaid and unknown. It’s time to bring dignity and respect to the independent professional.

Freelancers have been deprived of a basic human right: the ability to build trust, establish a reputation, and serve people directly on our own terms.

But, freelancers are strong, we are many, and with a network of our own, we are powerful. So today, we declare our career independence. Starting now, we will take our reputation data from the apps who hoard it, and we will use it to advance and improve. By taking control of our reputation, we take control of our career.

At Jolly, we are bringing freelancers together so we can end the exploitation era of the gig economy. We are creating a new Trust Economy where freelancers are just that: free. Free to own and build our reputation independent of any app. Free to build our own professional network of colleagues and clients. And most importantly, free to serve each other directly, without having to work through a middleman.

Jolly is not a typical company. We are filing to become a certified “Public Benefit Corporation,” which means we are committed to using business as a force for good. We promise to work hard to create these positive changes in the world:

We will empower freelancers to aggregate all of their reputation data—from anywhere they have established it—into one place that they own and control, that they can use however they want, especially including as a means of building trust so they can serve people directly without a middleman.

We will help our users get better access to benefits like health insurance, paid vacation and sick days, and the other resources they need to thrive in an independent career.

We will create a community that connects and lifts up each freelancer, bringing honor and dignity to the independent professional. We will always make decisions that support our users’ values, and their ability to serve each other in ways they find meaningful and rewarding

We will empower freelancers to serve people directly, eliminating the friction and unnecessary middlemen from their service relationships

We will always work to maximize human potential, Never forgetting that every freelancer is a human, with challenges, struggles, hopes, dreams, and of course, a unique way of creating value in this world through their talents and skills.

So, join us!

If you’re a freelancer, create your personal page so you can be found on Jolly, so you can build your reputation and your network. Use your page when you apply for jobs, so staffers can hire you directly. We are a supportive community of freelancers helping each other, so connect with your colleagues on Jolly to build your network, swap gigs, work gigs together, and share information. Invite other great freelancers to sign up. Join our “Jolly Pirate” program to get early access to new features and to help us create new tools that empower you even more.

If you know someone who manages a business that hires freelancers, tell them to create a business page on Jolly so everyone knows they hire freelancers. They can use Jolly to hire freelancers directly, on their own terms, with no markup and no middleman. When a business finds and hires workers on Jolly, the business is directly supporting the growth of the new, better Trust Economy.

And, please give us feedback! Our passionate, dedicated team is hard at work to bring more people into the Trust Economy, where we all control our own reputation and serve each other freely.

Shelby Stephens

Co-founder & CEO

Zach Fragapane

Co-founder & Head of Product

We Believe

It’s time to build the Trust Economy, a more just and free evolution of the gig economy

People should own their reputation data and use it however they want

Freelancers and businesses should be free to match up and work on their own terms, without middlemen

People deserve to know beforehand if a work experience will be meaningful and rewarding

Jolly is a global professional network for freelancers

Connecting trustworthy freelancers and businesses, to build the Trust Economy together

Tens of thousands of members, and growing fast


Here are a few of the movements and ideas that inspire our team as we help build the Trust Economy:


Jolly is headquartered in Austin, TX with remote team members around the world working together to build the Trust Economy. We're active participants in the Time Well Spent movement and advocates for Humane Technology (if you're in Austin, we coordinate Austin's Time Well Spent Meetup, so please join!). We value diversity and inclusivity, and we strive to reflect in our own product the beauty of the world around us. Together with our tens of thousands of users, we're creating a better future for freelancers and the businesses that are ready to join the Trust Economy.

Shelby Stephens

Founder, CEO

Zach Fragapane

Founder, Head of Product

Ronak Gothi

Senior Engineer


Douglas Ferguson

Fractional CTO

Lisa Hickey


Get in touch with us

We love meeting new people who care about the role technology plays in our lives and who share our passion for building an inclusive future of work.