Toptal vs LD Talent is an intriguing topic. Toptal is a leading, elite and vetted freelance network. LD Talent is a new player in this arena. Besides size and age, what sets Toptal versus LD Talent apart?

Basic Information

Toptal features most roles – developers, designers, financial consultants, and project / product managers etc.
LD Talent focuses on developers and some data scientists and designers.

Toptal carefully vets their talent and only retains the top 3%. Here is an overview of their funnel which includes autograded exams, live screenings, and test projects:
LD Talent vets developers for their creativity, algorithmic ability, coding ability, responsiveness, and responsibility (i.e. they’ve done large projects).

Toptal does not have a free trial.
LD Talent features a ~5 hour free trial. Technically it’s $100 of free credit, and developers are always paid but LD covers the cost of the first few hours.

Toptal and LD Talent only accept developers who exhibit written and spoken English proficiency. This is one of the similarities between Toptal vs LD Talent.

Toptal does not invest in freelancer’s education.
LD Talent financially incentivizes developers to engage in lifelong learning.

Toptal and LD Talent both feature international and US-based freelancers.

Toptal does not do full-time referrals. You can only hire workers as freelancers. The buyout fee is quite high, in the tens of thousands of dollars:
LD Talent does do full-time referrals, so you can opt to hire a developer directly for a finder’s fee instead of hiring them on the platform.

Toptal has an average international developer rate of ~$100/hr and a minimum freelancer rate of $60/hr.
LD Talent has an average international developer rate of ~$20/hr minimum developer rate of $15/hr.

Toptal pays its freelancers every two weeks.
LD Talent pays its developers 3-7 days after their client approves their work.

LD Talent presents an unlimited number of candidates to potential clients. Clients can search the platforms respective databases by skills, location, and years of experience.
Toptal hand curates talent for clients and does not let clients search their database.

Summary Table Comparison around Toptal vs LD Talent

Here you can see how Upwork, LD Talent, and other competitors compare. To see this image larger visit here.

Developer Vetting

Toptal does serious vetting through a sophisticated funnel. They do:

  • an English and personality screening
  • autograded Codility tests
  • a live interview where they ask the candidate to code live
  • test projects involving the development of a CRUD application
  • only retaining developers who perform well with clients in a responsive fashion

LD Talent does vetting by:

  • recruiting engineers whose alma maters are well-established universities around the country and world, or engineers who have strong presence on Github
  • ensuring engineers have passed exams in computer science concepts, coding practicals, advanced algorithms (tests run on their submitted code)
  • reviewing engineers’ projects in their specialty area
  • having internal algorithms constantly monitor and rank engineers’ knowledge, performance, work session approval rate, ratings, productivity, responsiveness in slack, reliability, and other critical attributes
  • using automated and manual validation on the resumé form to ensure that developers that claim a skill have used the skill in a specific experience
  • doing video calls with all developers to ensure that they can communicate effectively in English with common idioms and proper grammar and the likes

Aside from the above differences, both platforms keep track of developers’ availability per week and earned hours. Regardless of which platform you go with (Toptal vs LD Talent), you should be able to find someone fairly available and not overbooked.

How it Works – Toptal vs LD Talent

Toptal has a How it Works section. Essentially you can go on the platform, and describe what kind of talent you need. Their talent specialists will proceed to recommend you specific developers, designers, accountants, etc. as they become available. They don’t provide free work, but they ask you to put a deposit and refund it if you are not satisfied.

LD Talent is different since you can search its database. Namely, you:

  • don’t have to create an account to filter their database of developers – you can search for candidates:
  • get a 5 hour free trial so you can try candidates without putting down a credit card
  • can let developers track time but still get budget control by approving or rejecting work sessions, through the system of slack based time tracking, which are integrated with git commits and don’t require you to review screenshots of a developer’s screen
  • only pay for time if you’re satisfied with the work — you can just reject work sessions you’re not satisfied with — you don’t have to file a dispute and argue, like you have to do on Upwork
  • if you like a developer you can pay the buyout fee of 1K (international) or 2K (US-based) and hire the developer directly outside the platform

Technical Speciality

Toptal focuses on developers, designers and financial consultants (including accountants), project managers, and product managers.

Similarly, LD Talent features developers, designers, and data scientists who cover:

  • Backend development in Django, Node, RoR, and Laravel
  • Frontend Development in React, Vue, Angular, HTML/CSS/JS, jQuery, Bootstrap, Native Android, Native iOS, React Native, and Unity
  • Blockchain
  • Tensorflow for AI, Machine Learning, NLP, Computer Vision, Deep Learning, Data Science
  • Web Scraping / Python Selenium Browser Automation
  • WordPress
  • Java, C++, CAD, Data Visualization, Matlab, SQL, Python, Javascript, Ruby, Docker Containers, and Chrome Extension Development

to name a few important ones.


Clients of Toptal include some big names like Airbnb, Shopify, Zendesk, the Onion, UCSF, etc. LD Talent has clients that include startups, large companies like Infosys and Baidu, and universities like Yale, Northwestern, Stanford, and University of Wisconsin.

Talent Network Culture

Toptal has a culture of speed, quality, over-achieving, hard work, ambition, and respect for experience and expertise. Still, critics of the platform label it as a free for all, a “Craiglist of Software Development”, and a Tragedy of the Commons. Let’s compare it to LD Talent.

LD Talent has a culture of entrepreneurship, geeking out, HCI, ICT4D, Economic Development, and Digital Nomad Friendliness. Because of its intentional features, its critics say that it requires a good amount of involvement since you have to approve / reject the developer work sessions (unless you go on auto-approve mode). That being said, LD founders’ are on the LD slack available to help on notice, since the platform is not as large as Upwork.

Budget Control

LD Talent offers budget control through slack based work sessions, which are somewhere between Upwork / Toptal’s developer-friendly unchecked hourly time tracking (i.e. TopTracker, Upwork Time Tracker) and Upwork’s client-friendly milestone escrow system.

Here are the reviews of LD Talent, and you can also see reviews of Toptal. It was not easy to find google or facebook product reviews from a customer perspective, only from the talent perspective as well.