Victors and Spoils, Crowdsourcing Evolution, a Touch of Rage

Let’s start out by saying last night I cued up parts of the following post.  It was the most rage filled post I have ever written, I was pissed.

I reached out to John Winsor and had coffee this morning (sitting out on the cold, sorry about that).  The direction they are going is much different that what I wrote before, but the language used in the launch of the site rubs me the wrong way.  What they are building at Victors and Spoils is a direct poke at agency life.  The $7,000,000 logo.  Small ad hoc teams can solve those problems at a fraction, and reputation and portfolio management can lead to a sustainable model.

I was wearing my favorite NAU jacket while we were meeting, a company John was an investor in that went out of business last year (and are now kinda back in business).  I miss NAU a ton.  The founders didn’t create a sustainable company for themselves, and the promise I saw is gone.

John, Victors and Spoils and I do not want to see the creative market go away at all.  I believe fully that the direction they are going, a sort of coop / freelancer agency is going to be good for everyone involved.  Rock on.

That isn’t evident looking at their site though.  “Why does this site looks so plain?  You were probably just thinking how much this site’s design shouts from the rooftops that it was crafted at the hands of the most talented people on planet earth. But it wasn’t. It is just an interim quickly.  Because we’re currently crowdsourcing our logo-creation.”

In this case they are crowdsourcing their logo to a spec work company.  I make the argument that spec is not crowdsourcing, because to work, the model has to be sustainable.  Spec is the bastardization of crowdsourcing, and gives it a bad name.  So as a start, I’m off to a bad taste in my mouth: the site make you to think spec work is crowdsourcing, and they are creating an agency from it.

Bits from my original post are as follows, more of a commentary of anyone working on a spec work company than Victor and Spoils.

Holy buzzword batman, lets talk about crowdsourcing!  It works (have you heard of wikipedia?!?!?) and I can make a fat profit from it.

Wait.  That sounds sleazy.  You had me until you just wanted others actions to make you filthy rich.

Yesterday someone pointed me to a Boulder startup “Victors and Spoils” which looks to be creating a spec work agency (since found out- not true) and should read something along the lines of “we are smarter than you, fuck off, ring ring cash money.”

It is crowdsourcing!  Wired loves it and it is the trend, right?  We could make millions!!!!

No. No. No. No.

Please do your homework.  Please.  For the love of hundreds of years of design process.  For the love of your neighbors.  For the love of your past and future clients.

Want to get in on the ground floor of the pyramid scheme of the design industry?  Help them design their logo!

Yes, complete a job for the chance of payment.  Doesn’t matter if you copy it from a book or employ child labor to do it, this is CROWDSOURCING!

But it is not.  Not even close.

Crowdsourcing only works when it is mutually beneficial.

Dating as an example- I can walk into a bar and yell “who wants to sleep with me?” and yes, it will work every blue moon.  I would look like an idiot though, a sleazy dirtbag that can’t think about how my actions effect others and are part of a community.

A community.

Spec, as I have seen it, is employed by people that want to live in the gated house on the hill.  Life in luxury at the expense or ignoring of everyone else.  “Evolve or die” they say ignoring the trail of broken promises their industry is famous for creating.

Evolve or die is the basic arguments of the company they used to (op in slave?) labor their logo.

The same company that in under a year has caused over 41 years of designers time to go unpaid.

The same company that has kids doing logo projects.

The same company that profits off of every single ‘contest.’

Funny they call it a contest, everyone seems to lose that enters. Spec is to design is to business is to pyramid schemes.  A nice ring to it, you founded a company that is the pyramid scheme of design.  Mom would be so proud that you are screwing over thousands to make a buck.

So a long digression.  Victors and Spoils now has set the bar at $2400 for their logo.

How much are they going to charge for their next one?  Ground floor of a pyramid scheme and they maxed out at $2400.  This is not sustainable.

All they got was this negative post.  I would much rather post something positive.  About a company pushing forward crowdsourcing.  Something that when I first heard about this company, with backing of John Winsor, who I have looked up to for years, wanted to write (and will now that I know what they are up to).

After talking with John, what they are building is not spec at all.  They are looking to work with the brightest minds on killer projects.  But they started out with a spec work project.

Spec is their biggest enemy.  It threatens to black eye the entire industry.  Imagine every brand they work with has an army of people who care about the industry with vigor and the bite of rage you have just read, worked against them.

A message to the entire spec work profiteers: Ball is in your court.  Evolve or die.

My advice to Victors and Spoils?  Run as far and as fast as you can from the spec work company you have associated with, the black eye will take years to heal.  The reputation, promise and energy of what you are building depends on it.



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3 responses to “Victors and Spoils, Crowdsourcing Evolution, a Touch of Rage”

  1. Bob Knorpp Avatar

    Your pyramid scheme comment really resonates with me. That's exactly the point we made on The BeanCast a couple week's back.

    Crowdsourcing is a process of distributed work flow where more people contribute and you get a wider range of opinions so that work is presumably better. But when you add the money equation into what should be a share and share alike process, (an I help you, you help me model) the economics never work. Because for it truly to be crowdsourcing where everyone shares the wealth, the payout needs to be astronomical to make it worth anyone's time. The only alternative is to create…a pyramid scheme. Or worse yet, a thinly veiled RFP where everyone gives free work for the client to choose which execution they like best.

    I love crowdsourcing as well. But it must be done in an egalitarian spirit where you help me with my art and I help you with your copy. Or where I freely share my thoughts, knowing you will do the same in return. As soon as this process is assigned a dollar figure, we turn crowdsourcing into something very different. It's something called “a scam.”

    Here's the show I referenced above:

    Bob Knorpp
    Host of The BeanCast
    Posts Every Monday @

  2. nerfherder Avatar

    Andrew, hello again 🙂

    i just recently posted the following at V&S blog:

  3. nerfherder Avatar

    Andrew, hello again 🙂

    i just recently posted the following at V&S blog:

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