Beef in the Crowdfunding Game

Kickstarter Suspends Social Video Glasses Project; Fundraisers Decamp to Indiegogo

Caveats to all ya'll.
screen shot 2012 06 05 at 4 52 34 pm Kickstarter Suspends Social Video Glasses Project; Fundraisers Decamp to Indiegogo

The project at issue. (screencap, Kickstarter.com)

Despite all the enthusiasm for Kickstarter as savior of hardware companies, it’s still worth caveats all around. Backers should remember there’s still the occasional scam, failed project, and downright bad idea. And would-be money-raisers should remember that they are using someone else’s platform and therefore subject to Kickstarter’s oversight, like it or not. Last month, we covered the case of Tentacle Bento, a card game yanked from the site. Today it looks like another, less overtly offensive project got the ax: Vergence Labs’ social video glasses.

Vergence Labs proposed to build YouGen.tv glasses, which would (supposedly; we’ll believe it when we see it*) record high-def video, which users could then share socially. The project picked up some positive press at the outset, and as of earlier today, backers had pledged $63,790, exceeding the original goal of $50,000. But sometime this morning, the project was suspended and Vergence Labs’ profile deleted.

It’s hard to say why, exactly, Vergence was given the boot. We reached out to Kickstarter, but the company declined to comment. (Their FAQ explains that, “For legal and privacy reasons, Kickstarter does not comment on moderator actions.”) But it’s worth noting that the project’s suspension comes after Vergence Labs offered a special BOGO deal to anyone who had pledged money to another, similar effort. Zion Eyez reached its funding goals, but a peek at the comments suggests many backers haven’t been entirely pleased with their experience. It’s possible Kickstarter HQ took the offer amiss.

In the meantime, it looks like the project has relocated to another crowdfunding site. Earlier today someone identifying himself as Jon Rodriguez, Vergence Labs’ Chief Science Officer, wrote in the comments that “Kickstarter has not notified us of or provided any grounds for their aggressive action. Now that we know that they do stuff like this, we have migrated the project to a competing and hopefully better crowd funding platform,” and providing a link to the project’s new home at Indiegogo.

He added, “If you believe in us and our true ability to deliver you a fantastic, fully functional, and stylish product, thank you. We respect you and we promise to deliver you your pledge rewards if you please re-pledge on Indiegogo.”

So far, they’ve raised $16,095.

*UPDATE: Vergence Labs CEO Erick Miller reached out (via email and in the comments) to point out that they have built a “a fully functional prototype,” featured in the video at their original Kickstarter page. We’re still not 100 percent sold on the concept, but fair’s fair.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com