Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Crowdsourcing Platform ChallengePost Raises $4 Million

Start-ups that rely on the Internet as a source of free labor are nothing new. But the idea keeps coming back, in different forms, because it seems to work.

Latest example: ChallengePost, a two-year-old start-up that helps companies and non-profits run “challenges” that use the Web to crowdsource everything from cool app ideas to slogans that promote absentee voting.

The New York company has raised a $4.1 million Series A round from a group of investors led by Bob Borchers, a former Apple executive who’s now at Opus Capital, along with names like BetaWorks, Delicious’s Joshua Schachter, Mahalo’s Jason Calacanis and Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs.

The new money, which came after $600,000 in angel funding, is being used to expand the company from a two-man operation to one that employs 14 people.

The idea is to expand the company’s client base — to date, its most visible clients have been the federal government (including Michelle Obama, who used it to run an “Apps for Healthy Kids” challenge) and New York City (which has used the company to run a Gotham-specific apps contest.  So far the challenges they’ve hosted have offered more than $40 million in prize money.

Founder Brandon Kessler says he also wants to expand the company into “problem identification,” where Web users can suggest challenges that ought to be sponsored. There shouldn’t be a shortage.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik