Elance and oDesk have announced that they are merging. Each will continue to operate individually (for now). They have not yet revealed what their new, combined, company name will be. It is expected that the deal will conclude sometime in the next four months.
Elance is a marketplace for online work. It is somewhere that freelancers can go in order to find freelance jobs. Over 1.3 million jobs are posted through Elance every year. The company they are merging with,oDesk, also helps businesses find freelance workers. Cumulatively, oDesk has had more than $1 billion of work completed through it.
Both companies provide very similar services, and it appears the main purpose of the merger is to continue to do what they already do (but more effectively). Freelancers who are using either company right now can expect their profiles, work history, and other parts of their online reputation there to be unaffected by the merger. Clients will still be able to hire, manage, and pay exactly as they had before.