Wednesday, January 20, 2010

CrowdFlower Raises $5 Million to Boost Crowdsourcing

Jobs today are notoriously hard to come by. But that’s only if you want to build cars. Or write for newspapers. Or sell mortgages.

But what if you don’t mind sitting at your computer for a few hours or even just a few minutes, reviewing online images and weeding out pictures that are pornographic or copyrighted? Or scrolling through databases of business listings and calling each number to verify that it is correct?

Those are two of the menial tasks that are part of the phenomenon known as crowdsourcing. That’s the process of taking jobs normally handled by internal employees and farming them out to hundreds or thousands of people across the Internet, including some in foreign countries who might get paid just a dollar an hour or less for their efforts.

Services like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and LiveWork provide marketplaces where companies can tap this far-flung on-demand workforce. And since late 2007, CrowdFlower, a San Francisco company, has tried to make these marketplaces attractive to big companies by tracking and verifying online workers and closely monitoring the quality of their work.

On Wednesday, that start-up is announcing that it has raised $5 million Series A round of funding lead by the Silicon Valley venture capital firms Trinity Ventures and Bessemer Venture partners.
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