Crowdsourcing is a term that gets thrown around a lot — yet is often misunderstood. Some equate crowdsourcing with crowdfunding or ideation, while others mistake crowdsourcing for a methodology that’s inherently risky and informal.

But for forward-thinking startups and enterprises, crowdsourcing provides a reliable way to turn the gig economy into a strategic advantage.

With an enterprise-ready crowdsourcing platform like Topcoder, networks of talented, motivated technologists can be activated on demand to generate new ideas and solutions at scale.

Crowdsourcing with Topcoder

Topcoder helps companies of all sizes use crowdsourcing to uncover innovative ideas and produce digital solutions — from apps and dashboards to algorithms that help in the fight against cancer.

We believe that crowdsourcing democratizes work, because the best ideas and solutions don’t always come from the person with highest level of education or the most industry experience.

You don’t have to be an expert in crowdsourcing to get started with Topcoder. We manage all logistics and guide you through the process, and you pay only for results.

A Short History of Crowdsourcing

The idea of crowdsourcing has been around for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until 2005 that the term was first coined by two editors at WIRED. Today, there are countless examples of individuals, governments, and companies successfully using crowdsourcing.


The British government launches the Longitude Prize, offering a monetary reward to anyone who can develop a method for tracking a ship’s longitudinal position. A self-educated English carpenter and clockmaker wins the largest prize for inventing a maritime chronometer.


Napoleon offers 12,000 Francs to anyone who can develop a food preservation solution that keeps his soldiers’ food from spoiling on the march. Fifteen years later, a confectioner wins the prize with an innovative method of boiling and sealing food in airtight jars.


The Philological Society in London formally adopts the idea of developing a new dictionary with the assistance of volunteers to read books and catalogue words. Nearly 30 years and 800 volunteers later, the first fascicles of the Oxford English Dictionary are published.


Planters Peanut Company launches a logo design contest. A 14-year-old schoolboy wins the competition with his drawings of an anthropomorphic peanut, giving birth to one of the most recognizable icons in advertising history: Mr. Peanut.


New South Wales Premier Joseph Cahill launches an international design competition for a dedicated opera house located on Sydney Harbour. Danish architect Jørn Utzon wins the prize two years later for his design of the now-iconic Sydney Opera House.


Topcoder is launched to create a transparent rating system for developers and soon begins producing customer deliverables through crowdsourced development challenges—establishing itself as the leader in art and science of crowdsourcing.


WIRED editors Jeff Howe and Mark Robinson coin the term crowdsourcing to describe the method of businesses “outsourcing work to the crowd” via the internet. Howe’s article, “The Rise of Crowdsourcing,” skyrocketed the term to the mainstream.


Wipro acquires Topcoder to revolutionize its business model and the IT services industry more broadly. Together, Wipro and Topcoder develop the first Hybrid Crowd solution to enable customers to crowdsource solutions through public, private, and certified communities.