Job seekers head for the cloud

August 27, 2010 12:03:17 AM PDT
There is a reversal of the dreaded out-sourcing trend taking place in the Bay Area. A local company helping people find virtual work they can do from their home is finding most of its workers in the United States.

The recession has a lot of people pounding the pavement in search of jobs. One exception is Paul Ghenis. After a series of jobs in Silicon Valley over the past 20 years, he decided to go freelance. He finds his jobs online at CloudCrowd.

"There's a whole menu of tasks that you can do, and any given task can be done in just a few minutes, maybe just a few seconds, depending on what it is," Ghenis said.

CloudCrowd is where job seekers link up with companies with work to be done. It is an example how the cloud -- the virtual work space on the Internet -- has become the new labor market.

"We are available to the stay-at-home mother, the retired professor, the precocious teenager," CEO Alex Edelstein said. "There's a lot of people in any economy that are really kind of locked out of traditional white collar employment because they just can't fit it into their lives."

CloudCrowd has 35,000 workers registered, 80 percent are in the U.S.

A high-tech nerve center tracks the work flow.

"You see the white dots represent people checking out tasks, and as the little missiles take off, that is... their work has been submitted and is now awaiting review," CloudCrowd spokesperson Jordan Ritter said.

A peer review process is what CloudCrowd says sets it apart from other cloud job sites.

Pay can run from a penny per task, such as validating links on a website to $10 per page for writing a video script. The person's PayPal account is credited the next day for completed work.

Part-time student Andrea Flotte finds CloudCrowd a way to make some money during free time. She edits documents.

"[I've] edited movie reviews, essays, medical reports for an anesthesiologist," she said.

The next year or so will help determine whether so-called crowd sourcing will be successful or not -- whether companies think they can keep their costs down and whether workers can make a viable living by what is essentially piece work.


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