Jeremiah Owyang: Merging the company and the crowd

Live blog of Jeremiah Owyang, Chief Catalyst & Founder, Crowd Companies at LeWeb 2013

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Live blog of Jeremiah Owyang, Chief Catalyst & Founder, Crowd Companies at LeWeb 2013

We’ve moving on from the democratisation of media – social media – to people using these same tools to get what they want in the physical world. It’s the collaborative age. Six months ago, in London, LeWeb focused on the sharing economy. People are empowered to get the physical world from each other.

Things have accelerated in that six months. HP is joining the 3D printing market. Uber raised $258m from Google. The faster these things change, the harder it is for big companies to adapt. The lifespan of big companies is decreasing – this is why.

Corporations need to make the crowd part of the company. GE partners with Quirky to enable crowd innovation. You can crowdfund a U-Haul truck, through U-Notes. Why does the company do it? It creates a shared fate. If they invest in you, they’ll buy from you. It’s the highest form of loyalty.

A community of makers called Custom Made will create jewellery for you to match your (high-end) car.

1. Seek Purposeful Profit

Corporations in the US are bound by law to maximise shareholder profit. Senior executives see profit as the main objective of a business. Millennials say it’s societal development.

Toyota has the 100 Cars for Good programme, which gives cars to non-profits. Toms – a shoe company – launched a marketplace where they sell other people’s products. Brands are launching marketplaces for social good, rather than just selling their won products.

2. Maximising Resources

B&Q launched Streetclub – which enables local community sharing. Trunk Club is an internet stylist on demand. Four men style you a trunk of clothes based on your style and your measurements, and you chose to keep what you like – and then pay for it, all from the luxury of your own home. Marriott is offering Workspring – workplaces on demand.

3. Harness Crowd Innovation

Companies are struggling to find new ideas internally. 78% of companies are now focusing on looking to the outside world for their ideas. The success rates are wildly variable – but the desire is there. Nordstrom is using Etsy as a wholesale buyer. Nokia released plans for its phone cases as 3D printer files. You can design and print your own phone cases.

So, how do you be resilient as a big company? Collaborate with the outside world.

Crowd Companies is a trade council to allow big corporations to come together and learn from experts and each other about this. There’s a (hand=picked) innovation network of startups who will get to pitch to them for free. Here’s Jeremiah’s post announcing the new company.

Final thoughts

  1. The physical world is becoming democratised
  2. People are empowered to make physical goods and share them
  3. Big companies need to use these same exact strategies to keep relevance
  4. The companies with partnerships with empowered people will become resilient
  5. The crowd and the company will become one
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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.