CrowdFlower – Labor as a Service in a New Concept

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Well, you’ve no doubt heard of Software as a Service (SaaS) as a platform for software delivery.  Now, a new startup called CrowdFlower.com is offering Labor as a Service (LaaS) on the same model.  Rather than purchasing software rights on a by-use or calendar-use model, you can now purchase temporary labor on the same model.

Think of it as a temporary employment agency that’s online.

The initial angel investment round for the startup got some interesting backing from groups like K9 Ventures, Founder’s Fund, and others into the LaaS idea.  So there must be something going on with this idea.  Personally, I kind of like it.

CrowdFlower taps into the employment pools of several agencies around the world (over 80 countries in all), gaining access to over 100,000 available temps-for-hire.  This is a sort of “human platform for cloud computing,” as the CrowdFlower site itself dubs it.

This scalable workforce is billed by the amount of effort per unit of work, similar to cloud computing, and the payment and channel for the work are set.  Once the work is complete, CrowdFlower does a QA on it, gives a report card to the performer(s) of the task, which boosts their ratings on the site, and all is complete.

For virtual labor, this is a great idea.  Say you have 100 pages of scanned documents you need input into a WordPress page, but the quality of the scan is too poor to give a good OCR result.  So you’ll need a transcriber instead.  But you need it done by the weekend.  So you’ll need a couple of dozen transcribers working on a couple of pages each.  Well, it could be LaaS to the rescue.

The sits is fairly easy to use and CrowdFlower has a large pool of workers with various skills and talents and, browsing through the virtual resume’s, they have some nice history with the site as well.

Created by Dolores Labs, CrowdFlower underwent some interesting crowd labor experiments (featured on the DoloresLabs.com site).  These involved graphics and feedback surveys.  Dolores Labs is headquartered in San Francisco, California and specializes in statistical quality control technology.  CrowdFlower is their latest extension of that tech.


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