Kickstart or Kill

Kickstarter Owns Up to Being ‘Mockable,’ Still Doesn’t Care About Deadlines

This is what they call "laughing all the way to the bank."
twitter.com/ystrickler

twitter.com/ystrickler

Still waiting around for some sort of weird tchotchke you backed months ago on Kickstarter? Well, at least you’ve got company. In a big, expansive package released today, CNN Money crunched the numbers and found that of the 50 most-funded projects in the platform’s history, 84 percent were late. A mere eight were delivered on time.

Youch. And how much sympathy does cofounder Yancy Strickler have for your discontent? Well, here’s what he told CNN Money:

“If you want a watch, you can go buy a watch,” Strickler says. “People turn to the analogs of consumer behavior, as if this is a Wal-Mart online store. Kickstarter isn’t a perfect analog to anything like that. It’s something new.”

Guess you’re going to have to live another day without that cocktail shaker made of typewriter parts!

CNN Money’s findings are even starker than those from a study released earlier this year, which examined a wider array of projects and concluded that 75 percent don’t make their delivery date. But there’s a very simple explanation for the difference and for the high rates of tardiness, one best articulated by the late, great Biggie Smalls: More money, more problems. Dreamers with jack shit in the way of operational knowledge cook up some snazzy idea, then suddenly they have to produce far more product than they anticipated.

Thus far, Kickstarter has handled this situation by reminding everyone that all transactions are between project creators and backers, and the site is just a venue. A September blog post attempted to remind everyone that the site “is not a store.”

And last night, on the eve of the CNN Money story, Mr. Strickler and company have released yet another, more philosophical post on the matter: “Is lateness failure?” Betcha can’t guess the answer:

Kickstarter projects are great at a lot of things, but meeting deadlines isn’t one of them. This isn’t just a Kickstarter thing. All creative projects, whether they’re on Kickstarter or not, often take longer than expected. What’s unique about Kickstarter is that everyone gets to see how things are made and exactly how long it takes to make them.

Tl;dr translation: This is art! You can’t rush art! You don’t want to be Pope Julius the II, standing over Michelangelo like an asshole, do you?

The post also points out a neglected data point from that UPenn study: Only 3.6 percent of projects totally failed to materialize, which is pretty impressive, all things considered.

But there is one consolation: Feel free to make as much fun of the site as you want. Hell, Kickstarter knows it’s an easy punchline. Here’s what Mr. Strickler told CNN Money when they brought up a Portlandia sketch poking fun at the site and its population of wannabe artistes:

“It’s not just ‘Portlandia,’” Strickler says proudly. “We were also in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, The Onion, ‘The Daily Show.’ Everyone had a Kickstarter joke this year. We’re very mockable.”

Mr. Strickler, your trollface is showing.

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