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'Cloud labor' startup CrowdFlower raises $5M

CrowdFlower, the startup that helps companies find and manage workers for menial tasks, just announced that it has raised $5 million in a first round of institutional funding.

San Francisco-based CrowdFlower (whose chief executive, Lukas Biewald, is a friend of mine from college) is useful when you need basic tasks performed that can’t be automated by technology, such as tagging photos or categorizing the sentiments expressed in different messages on Twitter. There are a number of services that already provide the infrastructure for this type of crowdsourcing, most notably Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, and CrowdFlower isn’t trying to replicate their work. Instead, it offers analytics on top of crowdsourcing platforms including Mechanical Turk, to make the results more useful. With CrowdFlower (also known as Dolores Labs), a company could see how likely an answer is to be true and could zoom in on individual contributors.

In addition to announcing its funding, CrowdFlower shared some numbers about usage over the past year. It says more than 8 million tasks from 125,000 workers have been completed with its services. (One of the company’s most interesting projects in 2009 was GiveWork, an iPhone app created with Samasource, a nonprofit that tries to outsource work to African refugees.)

The new round was led by Trinity Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from previous investors. (Angel investor Aydin Senkut is also an investor in VentureBeat.) CrowdFlower has now raised $6.25 million.

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