Google Crowdsourcing Investments

Most companies leverage crowdsourcing by relying on external communities. For example, small businesses and startups looking for custom logo design leverage crowdSPRING’s community of 60,000 designers and writers. Companies looking for help with on-demand software testing can leverage the community at uTest. People looking for help with simple tasks can leverage Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

Smart companies have also found ways to leverage internal communities. For example, crowdSPRING has hosted projects by some of the world’s top agencies crowdsourcing internally from their own employees (those were private projects and we are unable to share details).

The belief that you can benefit from the collective wisdom of your own employees isn’t new. For the last several decades, many large enterprises have implemented “knowledge management” programs designed to identify, distribute and enable adoption of best practices and experiences across the entire enterprise. Knowledge Management programs are often very costly and difficult to implement and leverage. Enterprises typically purchase and implement complex and difficult to use software tools (and accompanying processes) that make knowledge management programs a burden, rather than a benefit.

I was intrigued yesterday when Google unveiled an interesting strategy for its venture capital funding arm – Google Ventures. Google Ventures plans to invest $100 million per year in startups (9 investments were made in 2009). Google has invited its employees to recommend investment opportunities and already, two to three investment tips a day are suggested by employees. To create incentives for people to suggest investment opportunities, Google promises to reward the original tipster if the investments turn out to be profitable. With 20,000+ connected employees, it’s a smart move by Google to leverage its internal community and crowdsource investment opportunities.

You can read more about this program in Wired.

How do you feel about Google’s program and do you think other companies can/should create similar programs?