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When Batman isn’t available: Crowd-fund

Paul Liu, a resident of Oakland, Calif., was frustrated at the city government's inability to tackle rising crime in his neighborhood. An economist who works for Google, Liu proceeded to do what must come naturally to an employee of one of the world's most forward-looking corporations. He went online and crowd-funded an answer. Using the San Francisco start-up Crowdtilt, Liu created a campaign to pay for a private security firm to patrol his local streets.

Within 48 hours, his campaign hit its $8,200 goal. Residents of adjoining neighborhoods took immediate notice, like meerkats perking up at the scent of a predator. A second campaign launched, and raised twice the cash in half the time. Then a third. In the blink of an eye, here came the new, new thing: Crowd-funding private security gone viral.

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