TechCrunch 40 Session 4: Crowd Sourcing

Session four as follows, including our live notes.

Cake Financial

mini-cake.pngCake Financial is a social investment service that lets people track all their investment portfolios in one place. The service allows individual investors to track and analyze their historical performance up to ten years. Users can also view the real-time portfolios and performances of their friends, family and top investors all without disclosing net worths, shares owned, portfolio sizes, etc.

Online investing service that offers social recommendations, without disclosing personal details. “There is nothing fake about Cake!”.

Homepage provides all the information usually found at the brokerage firm, but provides aggregated data from multiple firms.

Cake calculates annual returns across multiple brokers.

Interesting: you can chart your success against others, friend, associates etc.


Tools also allow you to look at trades other Cake members have made, the idea being that you can see what users with better results are investing in.

You can also see who is investing in a stock, eg: you can see everyone who holds Cisco, and then see what they are buying and selling as well.


mini-docstoc.pngDocstoc is an online community and professional network around user generated, professional documents. Users can store their own files or documents from anywhere around the internet. The files can be categorized and shared with various levels of read write accessibility. The documents can be searched by categories or by keywords and then previewed online or downloaded. Search results can be filtered by views, downloads, ratings and comments. Learn more about DocStoc.

Interesting introduction: fake customer testimonials from the audience.

A professional document service, comes with comments, profiles etc…

Docs can be found by keyword search, filters which include community filters, category search.

Documents can be previewed via popup and shared.

Includes registration for blogs as well.


Teach The People

mini-teach.pngTeach The People is a social network built around online education. The site lets anyone with specific subject knowledge or a useful skill set to share it with the Teach The People communities. Users can create individual profiles and contribute content to topics (computer programming, math or “Bob Marley’s Influence on R&B Music” are a few examples). The site encourages quality content by letting users become community creators and by giving users points for rating, referring friends and answering questions. Community creators help create content and run day-to-day community operations. They can charge other users fees for monthly community access, content views or content downloads. They can also share in site advertising revenues.

Starts with intro and rhetorical questions. About bringing learning to the time poor.

The product brings knowledge and people seeking that knowledge together, with the ability to monetize content.

Users get 5gb of storage space for lectures.

There is also an open questions section..Q&A model.

Teach The People is a “community model not a teaching model.”



mini-crowd.pngCrowdSpirit is a crowdsourcing community built around designing electronic products and staying involved throughout their product life cycle. Users submit ideas for innovative electronic products that the community fine tunes and votes on. The best ideas and their product specifications rise to the top where investors provide financing and development partners make prototypes. Once products have been made they are tested by the community and recommended to retailers. Users involved with product creation can earn a share of the product revenue. Typical products will include MP4 players, DVD players, computer peripherals, headphones, etc.

A Q&A community consultation service for problems and ideas that may be possible. Deeper than say Yahoo Answers, focus is on products and prototypes.



mini-ponoko.pngPonoko is a personal manufacturing platform. On Ponoko members can collaboratively create new products and take them through design and prototyping all the way through to production. Ponoko can manage the full production and delivery process or deliver the parts to the creator.

An online toy creating site, make online and “make it real.”

Users are able to add designs, materials, color etc..


Expert panel: Ron Conway, Don Dodge, Rajeev Motwani, and Yossi Vardi

Ron Conway likes Ponoko. Rajeev likes Cake Financial.

2 minutes ago Jason Calacanis said how wonderful the Wifi had become…at it’s been bad ever since, talk about jinxing it.

Yossi Vardi suggests that Cake should also track sexual prowess, to the merriment of the crowd.

Don Dodge likes Cake + Teach the People, asks question to Teach: selling content is a hard ask on the internet, particularly when you don’t know what you’re getting. TtP: they are running background checks on people offering lessons so they can rate the people offering the lessons.

Yossi asked Ron Conway whether he uses Cake (Conway is an investor). Conway says other people handle his money and Yossi asks whether it is his wife. Yossi follows up with “how many of the 162 companies you invest in do you use”…much laughter, Conway says 20%.

Summary: Cake Financial was the strongest idea according to the panel, and correctly so. Ponoko was the most original.