I’m here at the 2010 Skoll World Forum thanks to Silicon Valley (Jeff Skoll, eBay’s first employee and president, funds the foundation that puts this on), so I thought it appropriate to kick off my official blogging at SWF with three technology trends that are crying out for adoption among social entrepreneurs:
1. Crowdsourcing — 85% of humanity is now literate, including masses of poor people in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Moore’s Law makes it possible for them to connect to the rest of the world using increasingly cheap computers: $65 is the new $100 in the world of laptops. Most non-profits only leverage the developed-world crowd, and only for the purpose of fundraising. Why not think bigger? Innocentive harnesses the crowd to solve some of the world’s greatest R&D challenges through its website — there’s a lot we can learn from models like this one.
2. Game dynamics — Jesse Schell’s talk at DICE 2010 last month on the rise of social gaming wowed the Valley. For too long, people have dismissed gaming as a passing fad. Those people are wrong. In the US, the Wii Fit alone accounted for over $1B in sales last year, and FarmVille, Zynga’s most popular Facebook game, has more users than Twitter. In Korea, social gaming (and the sale of virtual goods that social games enable — see #3 below) is now a $4B industry. There’s a lot we can learn here. Subtle competition encourages user engagement, which can be leveraged to encourage people to shop ethically, live healthier, and donate more.
3. Virtual Goods — When I describe Samasource’s interest in virtual goods, funders often give me quizzical looks: “What do virtual goods have to do with ending poverty?” they ask. Well, all those little virtual tractors people buy on FarmVille are part of a whopping $1.6 billion market in 2010. Fonkoze and FATEM, a Haitian charity that sponsors the facility for Samasource’s digital work center in Haiti, raised $3.2M on Zynga through the sale of virtual goods in just one month. Non-profits and social enterprises with strong brands should be tapping into this new source of income — if I can buy a virtual bottle of Coke in my favorite Facebook game, why can’t I build a virtual school, or buy a virtual care package? Causes, Facebook’s link to non-profits, retails those goods on Facebook, but there’s a lot more room for branded charity goods around the web.
Let’s see what the next two days hold.