Kickstarted

$3.5 M. and 31 Days to Go? Kickstarter Has Officially Hit the Tipping Point

Just another story about a Kickstart project going bonkers: Pebble, the e-paper watch for iPhone and Android, has been funded 35 times over.

We’ll probably end up writing this post eight more times, because this smartwatch project on Kickstarter has already raised $3,521,979 (three million, five hundred twenty-one thousand, nine hundred and seventy-nine dollars) with 31 days (a whole freaking month) to go before time runs out. The startup is nearing its third birthday and recently hit a stretch of mega-hits, including the videogame Double Fine Adventure, which closed at $3,336,371, and the webcomic Order of the Stick, which closed at $1,254,120. Another video game, Wasteland 2, just closed at $2,933,252.

Now this crazy touchscreen smartwatch project, Pebble, is taking Kickstarter to the next level. It raised $1 million in 28 hours (Double Fine hit $1 million faster) and with so much time to go, it boggles our tiny little minds to think of what the final total might be. Especially with those eight more stories we’re going to write about it.

Looking at the project, it’s easy to tell why it hit so hard. The creators have a proven track record, a long list of glowing reviews from the press, and the product basically makes the watch relevant again: a touchscreen wrist-computer synced with your smartphone that can control iTunes from across the room and track your bike ride or your run. The watch will have a Watch App Store, and the creators plan to release a Software Development Kit (SDK) so that independent developers can code up new watch apps.

The creators have already released Pebble for BlackBerry. They need the money to make their product compatible with iPhone and Android.  “I started throwing money at my computer screen while reading this,” one user wrote on the Android forums.

pebble alerts $3.5 M. and 31 Days to Go? Kickstarter Has Officially Hit the Tipping Point

Pebble, in action.

The money comes from 24,582 backers. Double Fine got more than 87,000. The number of people with wrists and an Android or iPhone has got to be at least equal to the number of people who play adventure video games, right? If Pebble got the same number of backers as Double Fine, it could conceivably hit an absurd total, like (gulp) $10 million. Has Kickstarter hit some kind of crazy tipping point with these blockbusters?

Kickstarter has been growing “pretty consistently,” said Kickstarter rep Justin Kazmark, although the Double Fine project led to a few high profile video game campaigns. Shadow Run Returns has raised $1.7 million with 11 days to go.

If you look at Kickstarter’s funding hall of fame, you can see that other categories have much lower records. For Art, the record is $116,270; for Dance, it’s $26,270. Blue Like Jazz, still the most-funded Kickstarter film ever and in 100 theaters around the country as of last week, raised only $345,992 even though Film & Video has historically been the “dominant” category of projects, “accounting for $60 million of the over $175 million pledged.” (And this year, 12 Kickstarter-funded projects are in the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival lineup.)

Kickstarter has more than 4,500 projects running. That’s a lot, but it’s not mainstream. But with superbreakout projects like Double Fine for video games and now Pebble for design recruiting record numbers of dollars and commanding ever-more press, it looks like Kickstarter could be hitting, category by category, that magical tipping point where a popular thing becomes truly mainstream.

Follow Adrianne Jeffries on Twitter or via RSS. ajeffries@observer.com