Crounty, a new venture from Fast Company CTO Matt Mankins that takes its name from a portmanteau of “Crowd” and “Bounty,” launched on Wednesday for one simple reason: Sometimes you need help from the crowd to locate talented programmers or trusted subletters, and sometimes the things you need help with are so important that you’re willing to pay a bounty for them. Crounty is a platform that lets you do just that.
Mr. Mankins told Betabeat that the idea for Crounty was inspired by a project out of DARPA called the Red Balloon Challenge, where DARPA offered $50,000 to the team that could locate five red balloons randomly placed throughout the United States. The winning team, based out of MIT, used the power of social networks (and cash bounties) to find all of the red balloons.
“They agreed to split the $10,000 [per balloon] so that the person who finds the balloon gets $5,000, the person who referred them would get $2,500, the person that referred them would get $1,250 and so on. By using that strategy they were able to find and locate the balloons the fastest,” Mr. Mankins told Betabeat by phone. “Crounty applies that principle and gives users that incentive to perpetuate a message closer to where they think someone can fulfill it. So in the case of looking for a job, I know someone who is a Drupal developer or programmer, so I’m more likely to send a message to them because they might actually know someone who could do a job. Crounty is a mechanism for doing that.”
In his role as CTO at Fast Company, Mr. Mankins found it incredibly difficult to hire programmers, so he and his team hacked Crounty together in about 24 hours. Crounty is not officially affiliated with Fast Company, but Mr. Mankins is employing the tool to help hire new personnel at the magazine.
What’s impressive is that this project, which initially came together over one weekend, already has a functioning business model. According to the site, “Once you confirm that the bounty has successfully been claimed, Crounty divides your $100 bounty up as follows: $50 goes to the person that gave you what you were looking for, $25 went to the person that referred them, $12.50 went to the person that referred them, and so on, with the remainder going to the Crounty.com service.”
Crounty has only been around for two days, but Mr. Mankins said people have already signed up to utilize the crowd to rent out a Boston condo and find a set of very specific lawn chairs, among other things.