When I talked to him this morning, Threadless Creative Director Jeffrey Kalmikoff told me the company is selling 60,000 T-Shirts a month, has a profit margin of 35 percent and is on track to gross $18 million in 2006. This, for a company with fewer than 20 employees. Crowdsourcing can be very good business indeed.
On one hand, it's just this aspect of Threadless' model that makes them such a pure example of crowdsourcing: They're not just generating their core product via crowd labor, but they're using the crowd to determine what product lines are sold, a la Rule 5 from my article. Admirable in democratic principle and elegant in execution, it also raises the specter of the tyranny of the crowd.
They just reprinted Communist Party - the tyranny or the wisdom of the crowd?