Australia’s continued rise as a global hub for crowdsourcing


Over just the last few years, Australia has established itself as a global hub for crowdsourcing platforms. Early last year I wrote about the phenomenon, pointing to leading service marketplace, which is now based out of Sydney (see my interview of its CEO Matt Barrie on Channel 7 last week), 99designs, which recently raised $35 million as the top graphic design competition platform in the world, and DesignCrowd, another top player in the space. I followed up with a post about the innovative ideas broker Ideas While You Sleep.

Now late last week, further news pointing to Australia’s rise as a global crowdsourcing hub. DesignCrowd has raised $3 million to grow the business globally, including shortly hiring 10 new people. CEO Alec Lynch says:

“We want to move into international markets. We need capital to put our services in front of millions of businesses across the world.”

In addition, on Friday data analysis competition platform Kaggle announced it has raised US$11 million from a star-studded cast of US angel investors and venture capital firms, with Paypal founder Max Levchin joining as chairman. It’s a coup for the company given it’s the first funding round, and it has just 4 staff.

Sydney Morning Herald has an excellent article which points to the bigger picture in which Kaggle is operating, and includes many examples of the innovative ways its platform is being used. It notes:

Kaggle’s 17,000 PhD-level members have so far helped NASA come up with models to map the universe’s dark matter, helped health care providers predict which customers will get sick and predicted the winners of the EuroVision song contest with greater accuracy than the betting markets.

They get paid handsomely for doing so – ranging from $5000 to $3 million per solution, Goldbloom says. In fact, he predicts that his service could allow scientists to earn as much as entertainers and sports stars as Kaggle grows.

“Business analytics or predictive modelling is a $100 billion industry and $41 billion is spent on outsourced business analytics every year. I think that’s about twice the size of the movie industry – it’s really big,” said Goldbloom.

“Our view is that the very best data miners or statisticians can earn as much as the very best golfers or tennis players.”

Back before any of these companies existed, I have been saying that Australia’s future should be based around crowdsourcing, before the word even existed.

I was interviewed in The Bulletin in October 2005, saying, in part:

In an intensely connected and interdependent world, it is impossible to stand alone. The idea of creating products, services, and ideas at home and then taking them to a global market is increasingly dated. All aspects of the innovation and commercialization process need to access global best-of-breed talent from the outset.

It is highly encouraging and very exciting to see that Australia is following that path in becoming a global crowdsourcing hub.