Disruptive Forces at Work
As traditional forms of employment have disappeared in the United States economy, some new and not-so-new working arrangements have emerged, largely driven by economic need. Crowdsourcing has emerged as a method to connect freelancers with paid work opportunities.
Crowdsourcing falls within the loose definition of outsourcing, which, according to IDC SharedXpertise, represents a $500 billion global industry (2009). Current revenue estimates for the leading crowdsourcing firms are a mere sliver of the pie, ringing in at approximately $838 million as of December 2010, based on a freelance market report (Miller, 2010).
Major players in the industry such as oDesk and Elance reported 18.8 percent and 16.8 percent gains, respectively, in revenue in calendar year 2010. Also worth noting: the dramatic increases in the number of available freelancers and contractors offering their services through crowdsourcing sites. Elance alone reported an 88.3 percent increase to over 300,000 service providers (Morgan, 2011).