Crowdsourcing CEO & Expert Panel: From Phenomenon to Business Model


Date Thursday November 10th 2011
Time ***please note the different time for this event only: 4:45 registration, 5:00-7:00 program
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium, PARC

PARC Forum

Crowdsourcing is changing both the way we work, as well as the way Internet applications are designed and delivered. It’s no longer just the domain of technologists (who can now achieve breakthroughs together never before achievable); crowdsourcing is now ripe for enterprise professionals to understand and leverage the possibilities for their business goals.

From Wikipedia and YouTube, crowdsourcing has moved to a $5B “crowd worker” industry with applications proliferating for productivity, research, marketing, advertising, creative development, corporate workflow management, language translations, and much more — see a list of projects here.


  • 4:45 -5:00 check-in
  • 5:00-5:10 welcome
  • 5:10-6:30 panel discussion
  • 6:30-7:00 networking


Moderated by Ray Solnik, an experienced "crowdsorcerer" and interim executive at multiple crowdsourcing companies, the expert panel includes the following speakers whose experience spans domains, geographies, and applications:

  • Sharon Chiarella -- Vice President at Amazon and Head of Amazon Mechanical Turk, one of the largest online marketplaces for work that provides programmatic access to a global crowdsourcing community
  • Leila Janah -- CEO and founder of Samasource, an award-winning social business that connects people living in poverty to microwork: small, computer-based tasks that build skills and generate life-changing income and enables cients to focus on customers and profits instead of the busy work
  • Matt Mireles -- CEO of SpeakerText/ founder of Humanoid, the first "brainpower API", which enables engineers to create tasks and send instructions to humans and stamps reputations on workers in its network
  • Ashwin Ram -- PARC Research Fellow and manager of PARC's socio-cognitive computing research


Sharon Chiarella is Vice President of Amazon Mechanical Turk. In this role, Chiarella works with businesses of all sizes to leverage technology and the "crowd" on the internet to get work done faster and at lower cost. She has over 20 years of experience in building innovative high-technology businesses in cloud computing, crowdsourcing, online photo sharing, digital video recording, and video on demand. Prior to joining Amazon Mechanical Turk, Chiarella was the Vice President of Product Management and Business Development at Presto Services (a Kleiner-Perkins and Clearstone funded startup). She was responsible for the launch of Yahoo! Digital Home entertainment in partnership with AT&T. Previously, Chiarella was Direct of Product Management at WebTV Networks (which is now MSNTV and plarform for Cable TV Foundation and IPTV), which introduced the first true convergence digital consumer product combining Internet TV, interactive TV, digital TV, Digital Video Recording, and games into an integrated consumer electronics device. Before WebTV, Chiarella led product management for Kodak’s online business unit, which was responsible for and Kodak’s online photo sharing service.

Leila Janah
is the founder of Samasource. A frequent speaker on social entrepreneurship and technology, Janah and her work have been profiled by CBS, CNN, NPR, the BBC, The New York Times, and The New Scientist. She serves on the board of the non-profit TechSoup Global and as an advisor to mobile shopping app Spreetales. Janah received the World Technology Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2010, and was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Women in Tech in 2009. Prior to Samasource, Janah was a founding Director of Incentives for Global Health, an initiative to increase R&D spending on diseases of the poor, and a management consultant at Katzenbach Partners (now Booz & Co.). She has also worked at the World Bank and as a travel writer for Let’s Go in Mozambique, Brazil, and Borneo. Janah was a Visiting Scholar with the Stanford Program on Global Justice and Australian National University’s Center for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics; she received a BA from Harvard.

Matt Mireles is the CEO of SpeakerText/ founder of Humanoid. A blogger, athlete, adventurer, and former journalist whose work has appeared in Newsweek and the New York Times, Matt writes about entrepreneurship in his The Metamorphosis blog. He paid his way through Columbia University by working as a paramedic in Harlem and the South Bronx, and previously fought wildfires and dug trenches in the dirt as a part of the elite Modoc Interagency Hotshot Crew. Matt is an honors graduate of Columbia University and has received management training from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Ashwin Ram
is a PARC Research Fellow and manager of its socio-cognitive computing research area. Ashwin joined PARC recently with a proven track record in driving research to successful commercialization. He co-founded Enkia Corporation, which specializes in commercial artificial intelligence software; Inquus Corporation/ OpenStudy, which operates the first large-scale open social and peer-to-peer learning network for students; and Ardext Technologies, which provides software services for testing electronic components and systems. Before joining PARC, Ashwin was the Director of Georgia Tech's Cognitive Computing Lab. Dr. Ram earned his received his Ph.D. from Yale University, M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and B.Tech. in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology.

Ray Solnik
has run technology businesses including start-ups, mid-sized private companies, and divisions of a public Fortune 100 company. He is the President of U.S. Operations at Norwest Venture Partners-backed Appnomic Systems, which develops and provides data center automation software and services to large enterprises and web-based companies around the globe. Prior to Appnomic, Solnik headed Buena Vista Business Services, a high-tech management consulting and interim executive placement business, which included clients such as CrowdFlower (enterprise crowdsourcing services), PowerCloud Systems (cloud operated, secure wireless networks for small and medium businesses), and PARC. Prior to Buena Vista, Solnik was President and COO of OpSource, Inc., an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) company that was acquired in 2011 by NTT’s Dimension Data subsidiary; and prior to that, he was Chief Development Officer of New Edge Networks until its successful sale to EarthLink. Before joining New Edge, Solnik was president of AT&T’s consumer Internet company, AT&T WorldNet, where he led its shift from investment mode to cash generation. Solnik has an MBA from Stanford and a BA in economics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Additional information

Focus Areas

Our work is centered around a series of Focus Areas that we believe are the future of science and technology.

Licensing & Commercialization Opportunities

We’re continually developing new technologies, many of which are available for Commercialization.


PARC scientists and staffers are active members and contributors to the science and technology communities.