Gary Swart


Gary is a partner, investing in technology and healthcare companies, out of our San Francisco office. He represents Polaris on the boards of Quantcast, SimplyInsured, FloQast, Falkonry, and Qstream. He also served on the board of CliQr (Cisco).

Previously, Gary was the CEO of oDesk (now UpWork, NASDAQ;UPWK), the world’s largest online workplace with more than three million clients and twelve million freelancers. Gary guided the company to industry leadership and through a merger with Elance, while serving as a leading voice for the future of work and the emerging online work industry.

Prior to oDesk, Gary was the vice president of worldwide sales for Intellibank, responsible for building the direct and indirect sales organization and channel development. Previous to Intellibank, he was a business unit executive for IBM’s Rational Software Product Group.

Gary joined IBM through the acquisition of Rational Software where he ran Western field operations and held a number of other senior management positions, including Americas Medium business leader, area manager, district manager, and director of telesales.  Prior to Rational Gary, held a number of sales, management, and leadership positions with Pure Software, subsequently Pure-Atria, which previously merged with Rational.

Gary serves as a thought leader on marketplaces, sales leadership, the future of work, how best to hire and manage teams, and on the rise of the “freelance economy.” He has spoken at the Inc. Leadership Conference, The Economist’s Ideas Economy Panel, SXSW, TechCrunch 50, and at HBS—which teaches a case study on oDesk.  His commentary has appeared in a variety of publications including LinkedIn, Forbes, TechCrunch, The Washington Post and The Next Web.  And he’s appeared on TV and radio outlets, including CNBC, BBC, Bloomberg TV, National Public Radio (NPR), Startups Uncensored, and the Fox Business Network. In addition, Gary is a faculty member at the Alchemist Academy and a StartX Mentor.

Gary holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Maryland. Outside of work Gary enjoys spending time with his wife and four children. He is an avid surfer and cyclist, and happy to spend his spare time outdoors.