DesignCrowd is an online crowdsourcing platform founded in 2008 by Alec Lynch and Adam Arbolino. DesignCrowd has 500,000+ graphic designers signed up, from 124 countries, who outsource or crowdsource logo, website, print and digital design to businesses around the world.
DesignCrowd was started in a garage in Sydney, Australia. Alec Lynch is the Chief Executive Officer of DesignCrowd and Adam Arbolino is the company's Chief Technology Officer. Chris McNamara is the Chief Operating Officer.
In late 2007, Alec Lynch and Adam Arbolino began working on the DesignCrowd idea and subsequently launched the platform in January 2008. Lynch has been recognised as a founder of the design crowdsourcing concept.
In 2009, DesignCrowd raised capital from a team of private angel investors in Australia, totalling A$300,000.
In 2011, the company received $3 million in investment from Starfish Ventures.
The company obtained a further $3 million from Starfish Ventures in 2013 (a total of A$6.3 million), allowing it to expand significantly. Further business services were subsequently launched in the UK, Canada, Singapore, India, the Philippines and New Zealand, with additional offices opening in San Francisco and Manila.
In early 2015, the company closed a $6M Series B round led by new Australian venture capital firm AirTree Ventures with participation from existing investor Starfish Ventures.
On 20 December 2011, DesignCrowd acquired Brandstack, a stock logo template marketplace where users are able to buy and sell logo templates and domains. Following the acquisition, Brandstack's name was changed to "BrandCrowd." Alec Lynch is also the CEO of BrandCrowd. As of March 2013, BrandCrowd constitutes approximately five to ten per cent of the DesignCrowd revenue.
From 2010 to 2012, the company’s revenue grew by 500 per cent. Alec Lynch was also quoted as saying that crowdsourcing demand from small businesses doubled since 2012.
DesignCrowd states that its next goal is to become a leading crowdsourcing provider in the US market and expand its business from $10 million to $100 million. As of 2013, the US market represents approximately 40 per cent DesignCrowd sales.
In 2014, DesignCrowd announced that it had acquired community design contest website Worth1000 for an undisclosed amount.
In July 2014, DesignCrowd has reported an annual turnover of over $10 million.
In October 2015, DesignCrowd revealed it had passed $30 million in completed projects and the company was approaching $20 million in annual revenue. The company went on to announce in February 2016 that it now had more than 500,000 designers working on the platform. Lynch also said the company was experiencing 20 per cent growth in the British market, 19 per cent in the US and 18 per cent in the EU. Designer Anand Thangavel was recognized as the first person to earn more than $1million on through working on DesignCrowd in July, 2016.
DesignCrowd has completed crowdsourcing projects for the following brands: Amnesty International, ESPN, Sprite, the Sydney Morning Herald, HTC One, Microsoft Office, Panasonic, UNICEF, Harvard Business School, TimesSquare.com, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Virgin HealthMiles and the Showtime TV series Dexter.
DesignCrowd is also known for hijacking news and trends with crowdsourcing design competitions. Noteworthy past competitions have been related to: "Kim Jong-un's hair style"; the 2014 FIFA World Cup; the Yahoo! logo; the logo for Manchester United F.C.; and the 21st Century Fox logo.
In October 2015, DesignCrowd released a series of Photoshopped pictures of Donald Trump in horror movie scenes and politicians with man buns, with both receiving huge media attention. A series of images from DesignCrowd were posted in June 2016 showing United States Presidential candidates reimagined as Game of Thrones Characters.Finalist in the CeBIT Innovation Awards Australia, 2012
Alec Lynch named Anthill's 30under30 Winner, 2012
Alec Lynch named Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner, 2014 (Eastern Region - Category: Emerging)
DesignCrowd ranked #22 in Deloitte's TechFast50 2014 rankings
DesignCrowd wins Anthill's 'Big Kahuna' Award 2014
DesignCrowd ranked #38 in Deloitte's TechFast50 2015 rankings
DesignCrowd ranked #319 in Deloitte's 2015 Technology Fast 500 rankings
Although the convenience and access to many projects alleged by DesignCrowd's "CrowdSourcing 2.0" can appear attractive to potential clients and designers, some criticisms are only loosely addressed by such providers:Saturation of market results in too many available designers, lowering the compensation to the lowest common denominator of a worldwide pool of workers, resulting in a sort of "digital sweat shop" phenomenon.
Work is usually done "on spec," a line often improperly blurred with crowd-sourcing, where many designers submit work, but only one is selected; no compensation is provided to those not selected, or runners-up.
There is no minimum payment for designers, resulting in a race-to-the-bottom minimum standard, often dubbed "right to work for less," creating a very weak position for the rights of workers and almost no accountability other than unreasonable or non-existent standards.
Usually nothing prevents the hiring job poster from accepting and paying for a job for a low amount, but viewing (and possibly using without permission) other submitted designs or design concepts, without paying for them.
Almost no direct contact occurs between posted job clients and the designer before the job; although a passive system may seem attractive to minimize time spent on personal contact, it removes the key element of design of personal interaction (and creation of an accurate, personal design brief); although the client provides some intake information and may post research images or links, it is passive and therefore limited to the client's knowledge of what is needed.
Many such crowd-sourcing or on-spec clearinghouses offer no guarantee of security of one's information, and many such companies are internationally-based, with little recourse for the designers or clients in the event of compromised data, or user agreements allow almost full indemnity to the company. Similarly, such companies often will let a designer place their account inactive, without allowing a designer to completely delete their account. Thus, it leaves artificial numbers of current users (with possibly inactive accounts), and/or a company could sell the information of an account indefinitely without enforcement of (possibly international) court order(s).