Supplement | HBS Case Collection | October 2011

An Interview with Jack Hughes, Founder and Chairman of TopCoder

by David A. Garvin

Abstract

TopCoder's crowdsourcing-based business model, in which software is developed through online tournaments, is presented. The case highlights how TopCoder has created a unique two-sided innovation platform consisting of a global community of over 225,0000 developers who compete to write software modules for its over 40 clients Provides details of a unique innovation platform where complex software is developed through ongoing online competitions. By outlining the company's evolution, the challenges of building a community and refining a web-based competition platform are illustrated. Experiences and perspectives from TopCoder community members and clients help show what it means to work from within or in cooperation with an online community. In the case, the use of distributed innovation and its potential merits as a corporate problem solving mechanism is discussed. Issues related to TopCoder's scalability, profitability and growth are also explored.

Keywords: Growth and Development; Technological Innovation; Problems and Challenges; Motivation and Incentives; Competition; Online Technology; Information Technology Industry;

Citation:

Garvin, David A. "An Interview with Jack Hughes, Founder and Chairman of TopCoder." Harvard Business School Video Supplement 312-708, October 2011.