Archive for the ‘Crowd Companies’ Category

Crowd Companies: The Year in Review and Planning for 2015


Crowd Companies Logo

It’s the end of the year. This post is a reflection of the Collaborative Economy market and Crowd Companies in 2014, as well as a look towards what lies ahead.

The Collaborative Economy was a leading business topic of 2014. Over the past year, the Collaborative Economy movement has gained more attention from mainstream media, seen incredible pushback from the incumbents like taxi companies and obtained tremendous amounts of funding, while some startups created situations that left them exposed to intense scrutiny. Meanwhile, adoption by the public was forecasted to double (my findings on WSJ), it expanded into nearly every aspect of society, and shows no signs of decline. It truly is a movement in every regard.

Crowd Companies, has experienced over 100% growth. The council I founded, Crowd Companies, is now one year old, and we’ve also shown notable growth. We’re a membership for visionary leaders of innovative at large, established companies who want to embrace this movement – not be disrupted by it. We connect our members to a community of peers, industry experts and startups who are ready to partner. We host in-person and online events, and provide an archive of resources. If you work at a large company and want to learn more about our services, email me at

The company has grown (see about page) and I’m joined by two full time team members, Angus Nelson, head of Member Success, Julie Viola head of Operations (with whom I previously worked for about four years), Laura from Zirtual, who leads coordination and special projects, and a host of other continuing business partners from our network and beyond.

Crowd Companies 2014, by the numbers, we’ve:

To scale, We’ve used as many Crowd Services, ourselves
We were busy trying to build a scalable business. To the best of our ability, we have tried to live the movement of access over ownership, on-demand services and tapping the crowd. We have been able to be efficient because we also live this movement as much as possible. We use co-working spaces like Breather and the Impact Hub on demand, tap ridesharing, stay at Airbnbs, use crowd-based services like Cloudpeeps, oDesk, Crowdspring, Shapeways and others. The Wall Street Journal invited me to share how we use crowd services.

2015 Plans
We’ll be expanding the website to feature the successes our members have had in the market.

  • We will continue to publish industry-leading research and documents that can be referenced by the industry as a whole.
  • I will be speaking at a number of conferences, including the Swiss Economic Forum, Ouishare Festival, and the Collaborative Economy conference. I’m available to be booked through APB Speakers Bureau.
  • We already have more than five events planned for our members, and we’re considering some which could be open to the public.
  • We are growing in Europe and are planning a member event there in Q2.
  • We are planning to hear case studies of consulting firms who’ve deployed with large brands in this market, to help tell your story.

If you’d like to understand where we believe 2015 is headed, and if you know of innovative leaders at large corporations that want to join the council, we look forward to connecting with you, please contact me at – thank you!

To best illustrate some of our physical events –see gallery, below:

Crowd Companies Spring Summit, SF 2014
Above: Crowd Companies Spring Summit, SF 2014, a focus on sharing economy and maker movement, hosted by member Autodesk

Private Tour of Shapeways 3D printing factory
Above: Private tour of Shapeways, a 3D printing factory

Crowd Companies Fall Summit, NY, 2014
Above: Crowd Companies Fall Summit, NY, 2014, hosted by member Polycom

Council Members share their perspective
Above: Council Members from top brands share their perspective, Fall Summit.

Crowd Companies Immersion Tours at Techshop, SF
Above: Crowd Companies Immersion Tours at Techshop with CEO Mark Hatch, SF

We're all connected, led by Angus Nelson
Above: We’re all connected, led by Angus Nelson, head of member success

Crowd Companies Meets Techshop, Brit&Co, TypeA, CustomMade, Shapeways
Above: Crowd Companies members meet Techshop, Brit&Co, TypeAMachines, Custom Made, Shapeways and other startups

Crowd Companies Fall Summit 2014
Above: Crowd Companies Fall Summit 2014, a focus on retail and future of finance hosted by member Polycom.

Touring Shapeways 3D Printing Factory
Above: Touring Shapeways 3D Printing Factory

Crowd Companies Team
Above: The team: Angus, Jeremiah, Julie (not featured are our many partners, contractors and crowd-based providers)

A Six Month Update: Crowd Companies Creating Collaborative Success


Above picture: Attendees of the Spring 2014 Crowd Companies Summit hosted by Autodesk in SF included corporate business leaders, entrepreneurs from collaboartive startups and special guests.

A few days ago, Crowd Companies reached its 6 month anniversary, so I felt that this would be a good time to provide an update on the company’s growth and on the state of the market.

The Collaborative Economy Movement is Growing Quickly. As a movement, the Collaborative Economy has demonstrated tremendous growth and market churn. This movement, which empowers people to get what they need from each other, continues to expand. There are over 9,000 startups in the space and there was over $850 million in new funding in the month of April alone. Adoption by people is projected to double by the end of 2014. The mainstream press and local media has begun to regularly spotlight the Collaborative Economy movement. It’s getting hard to open a newspaper and not read something about this subject, whether it is news or op-eds. This is a sure indication that, not only is the movement growing, it is here to stay.

Regulatory Upsets and Business Model Changes Show Disruption. Naturally, this has caused considerable disruption for some local governments, regulators, and traditional business models as power shifts hands to the people. Change is almost always met with opposition. There have been protests from incumbents like taxi and hotel unions. Many local governments have pushed back at some startups. State governments have moved in a variety of directions. On the other hand we’ve seen progressive corporations collaborate with new business models. In fact, there are over 80 examples of traditional corporations who’ve deployed in this market. Data seems to indicate that there is no end in sight to how the movement may totally reshape our world. There’s been increasing attention on the market, as conferences across the globe, like OuiShare, MakerFaire, MakerCon, SHARE, and my own Resilient Summit, launched to support new and existing players and to help them define their place and reach their growth potential within this ecosystem.

Crowd Companies Milestones
Crowd Companies, an association for business leaders who want to be part of this new Collaborative Economy movement, has grown as well. Here’s a few council stats:

  • We launched with 24 Fortune 500 companies as founding members on Dec 10, 2013, at LeWeb.
  • We’ve grown 41% in six months.
  • Our membership now includes 34 major corporations, see list
  • Our Council includes more 120 business leaders who are at executive, director and department head levels of their companies.
  • We’ve had over a dozen collaborative, online calls and sessions, including speakers like Lisa Gansky and Mark Hatch and a number of startups from the movement.
  • A representative from the White House spoke at one of our sessions, indicating the administration’s support of the Maker Movement.
  • We’ve hosted three physical events, including our Spring Member Summit in San Francisco, an immersive experience hosted by Autodesk, 5M, and TechShop.
  • We’ve launched a key research report in the space with partners at Vision Critical, and had media coverage in leading publications like Fast Company, Wired, and the Wall Street Journal.
  • Most importantly, our members are unlocking business value from peer-to-peer connections, learning from industry experts and finding startups to with which to partner.

Looking Forward. What’s to come in the future? This market, which I see as the natural next phase to follow social media, should continue to churn as startups get funded and disrupt traditional business models. Governments at federal and local levels will continue to recalibrate how they approach this market. The people who use these services will continue to gain power and the movement will continue to formalize as a new ecosystem (unions are already starting to forge). Just as corporations changed their communication models to adapt to social media, corporations who want to succeed will adopt new business models that use these same strategies in order to partner with the crowd. Social media was a ten year growth trend. I expect this market to follow a similar pattern, but with far greater impact as the physical world is being democratized through technology.

The Power of Collaboration


Today is the start of a long journey, as businesses can also be part of this new economy.

I’m excited! Today is a milestone, it’s the first Crowd Companies council session –we’re kicking off!

The above video was played in our session, to set the tone of the council, we worked with Visually, a collaborative marketplace to get it created. Crowd Companies now has 26 companies in the council, and 22 startups from the collaborative movement.

Together, we’re exploring, discussing, learning, engaging, connecting, and activating within the Collaborative Economy. All within a program focused on the business models and trends we see emerging.

Our speakers are authors, startup CEOs, the members themselves, and even folks who are living a sharing lifestyle day to day. Everyone brought together to think along the lines of innovation – The goal is that brands win and startups too.

This month, we’re setting the foundation for the council, and I’ll present our vision, along with the key business models we see emerging. In Feb, we’ll focus deep on the Sharing Economy and have author of The Mesh, Lisa Gansky present, followed by Neal Gorenflo the founder of Shareable magazine and then council member discussions.

In March, we’ll focus on the Maker movement with the CEO of Techshop, Mark Hatch who authored the book the Maker Manifesto, along with startups from our Innovation Network sharing how they want to work with large companies. In future months, the council will help to share the topics in which we’ll explore.

In addition, we’re trying our best to live this movement too. So far, we’ve used: Crowdspring, Zirtual, Visually, co-working at the Impact Hub, Uber, Airbnb, Visually, TaskRabbit, and many other services. We’re learning into this new economy, as it makes business sense and the best way to learn is by doing.

Professionally, launching this company has been the most challenging and rewarding endeavor ever. And I’m deeply thankful for all of the support and encouragement from people like you.

Since I have you, I’d like to do a little crowdsourcing of our own and get YOU involved. We put up a FAQ on our website and I’d really appreciate you visiting and letting me know if there should be additional questions answered on this page. We want to be as transparent as possible and look forward to your questions.

Today is the start of a long journey, as businesses can also be part of this new economy.

The Crowd Companies Kickoff Event


Last night, at a San Francisco Airbnb location, we kicked off Crowd Companies, by hosting a physical face-to-face meet- up of council members, leaders from the Innovation Network, and key industry experts., Photos of this ground-breaking event follow belowto bring it to life, I’ve included some photos below.

Exactly one month ago today, on Dec 10th, we announced Crowd Companies at the LeWeb conference in Paris, with 24 Fortune 500 companies as founding members, with more in the process of joining. We had several goals for last night’s event. I wanted to build physical-world relationships between council members, make personal introductions with the Innovation Network members, introduce teammates Angus and Miranda, enjoy amazing food and drink, and engage in dialog about the Collaborative Economy.

One of the goals of Crowd Companies is to connect the market to the council and the council to the market by providing opportunities to bring them together. We rented an Airbnb location in the Mission district. The food was provided by Feastly, where home kitchens operate like restaurants. Getaround provided a Tesla S, and a SmartCar from their P2P network. CustomMade, a community of makers, surprised me with an original artwork created especially for the event, complete with the Crowd Companies logo. Shapeways brought samples of some of their 3D printed goods. ScootNetworks brought an electric scooter. Many of the other startups from the Innovation Network were there, which we’ll talk about in future events. All of this evidence of the growing reality of the Collaborative Economy, the Maker Movement, and its leaders was totally amazing.

While last night was like an experiential taste test in the context of a meet and greet, next week we kick off the formal council calls for the members and outline the program and schedule for this group focused on the Collaborative Economy. If you work at a large company that should be part of this (or know someone who does), please contact us on our website,, and we’ll get right back in touch with you.

Select pictures below as we phsyically infused the Crowd and Companies together as one:

(Edit: There are more discussions on Facebook)

Thank you CustomMade, a marketplace of artisans and makers, for surprising this amazing art, a unique piece of art from their community, complete with our logo. The artists are Sarah and Brad Matthews, see their portfolio on CustomMade.

Crowd Companies team and council members: Jeremiah from Crowd Companies, Mason from Verizon, Ursula from Swisscom, Bill from Autodesk, Angus from Crowd Companies.

We kicked off a discussion, asking: “Can surge pricing sustain” and “Can you live a great life (primarily) in the sharing economy?”, sparking some interesting discussions.

Books are provided to each council brand related to professional Millennials Promote Yourself, Maker Movement Manifesto, The Mesh, and Share or Die, and each of these authors will present at the council. Photo by Karen O’Brien

Mason (Verizon), Jeremiah and Lori (Adobe) check out Scoot Networks, electric scooters on demand.

Salon style discussion on the Collaborative Economy compared to the “traditional” economy, what’s new, and what’s not?

Angela Baldwin from DesksNearMe, Padden from Getaround, Noah from Feastly.

Jeremiah and Karen O’Brien, Western Union, and a friend for many years. Photo by Karen O’Brien

Getaround shared how even Teslas are available for rent in their P2P marketplace

We opened the space in the afternoon, for co-working and discussions over snacks and coffee.

Food provided by a Chef from Feastly, who normally hosts dinners at her own house and unique locations. Homes are becoming restaurants.  This is a hip Airbnb rental in Mission.

Eric Toczko from CustomMade, Jeff Nelder, Richard Brewer-Hay

Peer to peer car rental demo by Getaround, a Smart car.

Crowd Companies Team: Angus, Miranda, Jeremiah


Introducing Crowd Companies: A Brand Council for the Collaborative Economy


Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 6.20.01 AM
Our Mission: Empowered People & Resilient Brands for Shared Value.
Today, I’m launching a new company called Crowd Companies as I see a market opportunity for large brands to be an integral part of the Collaborative Economy. We’re on a mission for Empowered People and Resilient Brands to achieve Shared Value.

The Collaborative Economy is a Powerful Movement.
Technologies like mobile, social, internet of things, 3D printers and more empower people to create physical products, or share existing resources with each other, rather than buy anew. It means people are empowered to get what they need from each other, rather than from inefficient institutions. The bold question we will ask and answer is: “What role do corporations play when people get what they need from each other?”

Big Companies have a role in the Collaborative Economy.
To answer the question on the role of companies in this crowd economy, I’m launching Crowd Companies, a brand council whose primary function is to help big brands understand, then connect with startups in the Collaborative Economy. The scope of this council includes trends that empower people which today includes the sharing economy, maker movement, co-innovation, and future technologies that come next. We believe that brands that participate in this movement are resilient, securing their long-term place in the market.

Empowered People benefit through the Innovation Network.
The mission of Crowd Companies is an equation; people and brands together. To complete the equation, I’ve hand-selected startups that empower people from the sharing economy, maker movement and co-innovation, all who want to work with big brands. They will meet, present to, and connect with the brand council. This relationship does not cost the startups anything other than their time.

How The Brand Council Works.
Our business model is primarily focused on membership fees from the corporate members, which cover: 1) A private place to connect to other members, 2) Experts who come to present to the council (saving you time), and 3) Access to the innovation network of startups who want to work with big companies. Over time, as the council needs change and growth, we will offer new solutions to meet market needs.

The 24 Crowd Companies Founding Members:
The following progressive companies are the founding members of the Crowd Companies council, they include:

    1. Abbott Labs
    2. Adobe
    3. American Eagle
    4. Autodesk
    5. Barclaycard
    6. Cisco
    7. Ford
    8. GE
    9. Hyatt
    10. Intel
    11. Intuit
    12. Kelly Services
    13. Nestle
    14. Paypal
    15. Radio Shack
    16. Swisscom
    17. Taco Bell
    18. The Home Depot
    19. Verizon
    20. Visa
    21. Walmart
    22. WellPoint
    23. Western Union
    24. Whole Foods

Why I’m doing this.
I’m driven by a career mission. It’s to “help corporations connect to their customers using new technologies.”  About a decade ago, I was involved in a prior phase of democratization where people were creating media and sharing it with each other. Today, we all know this as social media. Using the lessons learned, I see the same democratization happening to the physical world, where empowered people are creating physical products and sharing resources among each other, rather than buying anew. I have great passion for how technology both enables and disrupts markets. I’ve written over 2,700 blog posts on the subject and thrive being on the edge of technology and business.

Thank you.
I try to maintain a list of those who have helped along the way, so I apologize if I have missed anyone. First of all thanks to the council members and innovation network startups who believed in the movement and in us. Thank you, Fred Neil, for my first dollar. Thanks to the team and partners who helped: Miranda Merten, Angus Nelson, Vladimir Mirkovic, Paul Bae, Carmen Simon, and Lou Gutheil. Thank you to advisors, Vivian Wang, for movement-seeking and inspiring me; Todd Defren and SHIFT, for counsel and help for these early days; Wendy Lea, for kicking me to go do it; Loic Lemeur, who opened my eyes; the entire LeWeb team; Lisa Gansky, for being so meshy; and Neal Gorenflo for being so generous. Thank you David Armano, Aaron Strout, Kelby Johnson, Steph Agresta, Ian Greenleigh, Malcolm De Leo, Francine Hardaway, Joe Chernov, Rebecca Lieb, Terry Young, Ben Smith, Jim Lundy, who guided, cheered me on and made intros. Thank you Lora Cecere, Alan Webber, Julie, Viola, Charlene Li and to all the people at Altimeter Group, for your ongoing support. Of course, thank you to my supportive wife, who is a supportive driving force behind me. I know I left many, many people off, please accept my apologies.

Above: Keynote slides from LeWeb company launch.

Above: Video from Keynote speech at LeWeb for the Crowd Companies launch.



Key Resources and Company Stats:

  • Crowd Companies launches with 24 large companies as founding members including GE, Home Depot, Whole Foods, Intel, Nestle, Cisco, Walmart and many others.
  • Crowd Companies launches with 22 innovative startups, investors, and thought leaders in the Innovation Network stemming from the sharing economy, maker movement, and co-innovation space.
  • For more details: visit the website, read the press release.
  • Case examples: See this growing list of brands who’ve deployed in the collaborative economy.
  • Peruse my full body of work on this topic for deeper insight.
  • We use collaborative economy services for the logo design, website design, virtual staffing, and more.

So welcome to Crowd Companies! A brand council for the collaborative economy. We’re on a mission for Empowered People and Resilient Brands to achieve Shared Value.

Market Coverage:
I’ll cross-link to coverage on this announcement.