Taso Du Val started Toptal (short for "top talent") when he saw just how hard it was for U.S. firms to find top freelance talent in tech. He knew from his prior work as a consultant in the industry that there were plenty of experienced and available coders, engineers and software developers around the globe.
So in 2010 he launched his company and decided to do it remotely. Toptal finds the best freelance engineers and designers from anywhere in the world and vets their qualifications using a blend of proprietary software and online interviews. Once a person is deemed Toptal-quality talent, they are given access to the company's digital platform, and clients — from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies — can then hire them for short- and long-term projects.
The company, which has grown to more than 400 core employees working in 60 different countries, was an early adopter of what is quickly growing to be the next big wave in work/life balance: the fully remote company. Today, according to FlexJobs, an online platform specializing in remote and flexible employment, there are approximately 170 companies in the United States that operate 100 percent virtually, up from 26 in 2014.
Among the largest are Automattic, AnswerConnect, InVision and Toptal. These companies have no central headquarters to speak of, and the majority of their staff works remotely — from a shared office space, home or even the local coffee shop. The other traits they have in common: incredibly low overhead, better employee retention rates and the ability to attract talent from anywhere in the world.
"When I started Toptal, I was working with people in several different countries right from the very beginning," said Du Val. "It didn't make sense to have an office anywhere."