Topic Tuesday #6 2012/08/28 "Crowd Sourced"
Once upon a time, a man had an idea for a product or business. He had to go to the bank and borrow money, maybe a loan, maybe a mortgage against his property. Once he had the money in hand he was able to proceed with the idea. Today we find ourselves in a fascinating and fast paced world of instant communication and global collaboration. Recently the concept of "Crowdsourcing" has hit mainstream. If you have a question you may poll your social graph of followers and friends and get a variety of real world answers. Not all of them good, or right, but you will get contribution almost all the time. Now it has taken a more interesting turn. Crowd Funding. Websites like KickStarter.com, indiegogo.com and equitynet.com are providing a new way to get resources for projects, ideas and causes. There have even been some dramatic and notable projects that have been crowdsourced. Mathew Inman of Theoatmeal.com has just performed two such actions. There was a legal kerfuffle that was staunchly put to bed with massive contributions to a good cause being the result and more recently over $1,000,000 was raised to purchase land for a Nikola Tesla museum. A company called Pebble Technology was looking for $100,000 to put an Android powered E-Paper watch that will be called, "Pebble". They raised $10,266,846 through their Kickstarter campaign.
Non-profits have been using it, individuals have been using it. Some succeed, and others fail. Some get funded and fail to deliver later. It's like venture capitalist gambling, but for everyone. Pledge a dollar, and you help. Pledge more, and they may give you a cookie.
The topic for discussion today is related to the bigger picture. With the way our economy is going, these alternatives to traditional funding can provide rapid iteration and product evolution and allow more people to compete, where the barrier to entry was far too high previously. So what are the consequences? Where could this go? Do we need banks to provide loans anymore? Is this just cyber panhandling?