The crowd is still at the core of the new wave of startups

Well-known Israeli power player Yossi Vardi took to the Wired 2011 stage this week in front of an audience still thinking about robots arguing with Heather Knight, to talk business. Vardi, Israel’s number one high-tech entrepreneur, has been involved in building over 60 companies in various fields, from mobile to water technology.

Here he introduced the “true wisdom of the crowd”, a concept based on the old paradigm that the Encyclopedia Britannica was replaced by Wikipedia. Namely: Online is the new crowd or tribe. The desire to be a part of the crowd, says Vardi, is as old as civilization itself, it’s just that the implementation of this desire has shifted from the real world to a virtual one.

“The concept of the wisdom of the crowd came with crowdsourcing. (…) People used to aggregate in crowds in real life, now the internet has enabled us to communicate in great masses online.”

Well, that’s not news. But the “wise” online crowd opens business for collaborative consumption. Author and visionary Rachel Botsman introduced the term, used to describe an economic model based on swapping and sharing, less than a year ago. One of the first speakers at Wired 2011, Botsman explained the re-invention of old market behaviour in the global village we are living in today.

“Technology can enable relationships,” said Botsman when she spoke about Taskrabbit, the online marketplace that enables people to outsource their errands and assets. In this sense we can all become “micro-entrepreneurs” within the crowd.

We are headed towards one very big crowd in one very big marketplace, where not just goods, but also assets are available from taxi services to help in assembling IKEA furniture (which is, by the way, the most frequently posted request on Taskrabbit).

For startups this means, as usual, either disrupt the crowd or be disrupted.