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Topcoder, Inc.
Subsidiary of Appirio
Industry Crowdsourcing
Software Development
Data Science
Founded April, 2001
Founder Jack Hughes
Headquarters San Francisco, CA, USA
Slogan Deliver Faster through Crowdsourcing

Topcoder's crowdsourcing marketplace connects 1,000,000+ designers, developers, and data scientists from around the world with major companies, including IBM, Amazon, and NASA, to enter challenges and get paid. It connects its community with customers via challenges that are hosted on the Topcoder Platform. Challenges come in the form of design, development, or data science formats. Some are just for fun, while others produce deliverables that go directly back to the customer.

The fun challenges are mainly in the form of Single Round Matches (SRM) and fall into the genre of competitive programming.

Company history[edit]

Topcoder was founded in 2001 by Jack Hughes.[1][2]

In September 2013, Topcoder was acquired by Appirio.[3]

Business model[edit]

Topcoder is a crowdsourcing marketplace that connects customers to its community of design, development, and data science experts. Customer projects are decomposed into a set of challenges. Community members compete on these challenges to produce the best deliverable for the task at hand. Community members earn fixed amounts of money for each challenge, and may participate in various roles on each challenge (eg. submitter, reviewer, copilot).

Topcoder maintains profiles for every community member. Profiles represent a merit based skill assessment determined by actual deliverables produced by each individual. For example, the looking at the Topcoder profile database you can determine who the best Java developer is.

The software resulting from algorithm competitions—and the less-frequent marathon matches—is not usually directly useful, but sponsor companies sometimes provide money to pay the victors. Statistics (including an overall "rating" for each developer) are tracked over time for competitors in each category.[citation needed]

Types of competitions[edit]

  • Algorithms (SRM) (competition length about two hours): Competitors are given a set (usually three) of algorithmic problems and have 75 minutes to correctly solve as many as they can. Topcoder has been hosting algorithm competitions since 2001.[4]
  • Marathon Matches (competition length one or two weeks): Contestants are given a particularly difficult algorithmic problem. The scoring is done by computer based on criteria specifically suited to the problem.
  • Architecture (1 day to 2 weeks): Competitors architect systems or parts of systems, producing architectural models and proof of concepts.[5]
  • Development (1 day to 2 weeks): Competitors are given a design specification and must deliver working code deliverables.[5]
  • Design (Studio) (graphic design): Contestants are asked to show off their creative skills in a competitive environment.[6]
  • Testing (1 day to 1 weeks): Competitors write test plans and produce automated test suites.[5]
  • Bug Hunts: Competitors log issues against a particular app or piece of code.[5]


Topcoder initially awarded money every week to coders who did well in the weekly competitions, or Single Round Matches (SRMs). For a while, prize money was only awarded twice a year to winners and finalists of the Topcoder Collegiate Challenge (TCCC, which is in the spring) and the Topcoder Open (formerly the Invitational, which is in the fall). As of June 2005, some weekly SRMs began to once again award prize money, being sponsored by outside companies such as Google and Yahoo!. However, since August 2008 Topcoder returned to giving money prizes only to winners and finalists of other tournaments.[citation needed]

Currently, Topcoder continuously pays community members based on there earnings in challenges. Each challenge is posted with specific monetary and non-monetary rewards.


As of May 8, 2016 Topcoder has more than 1,000,000 registered members.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ DIamandis, Peter. "TopCoder's 5 Steps to Building a Global Workforce Community". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 April 2016. 
  2. ^ "Company Overview of TopCoder, Inc.". Retrieved 15 April 2016. 
  3. ^ TechCrunch report "Appirio buys topcoder". Retrieved 2014-01-15. 
  4. ^ @topcoder. "Competing in an Algorithm Match (SRM) – topcoder". Retrieved 2016-09-06. 
  5. ^ a b c d @topcoder. "Competing in Development Challenges – topcoder". Retrieved 2016-09-06. 
  6. ^ @topcoder. "Competing in Design Challenges – topcoder". Retrieved 2016-09-06. 
  7. ^ "Community Overview". Retrieved 3 May 2016. 

External links[edit]