Kickstart or Kill
Sundancing in the Dark South by Southwest is basically right around the corner, but it seems several techies needed a break before March offers the excuse for a tax-deductible trip to Austin. Investor Scooter Braun is be there (for obvious reasons), as is VHX cofounder Casey Pugh, ABC News’s Maya Baratz, onetime Myspace prez Jason Hirschhorn, and Thrillist cofounder Ben Lerer. Judging from Mr. Lerer’s Instagram, Gary Vaynerchuk is also along for the ride.
Startups are taking advantage of the festival’s halo of hipness. The creatives at Kickstarter have devoted a page to Sundance entrants funded on the platform, and cofounder Yancey Strickler says he’ll be in attendance. Uber will be there–and handing out hot chocolate. “All you have to do is tap the Uber app and we will come wherever you are to deliver sweet salvation from the epic cold,” the company promises. Not to mention helping sooth the pain of Uber’s high fares.
The Media Elite
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:
Annie Leibovitz’s Silicon Alley photo shoot has finally made its way into print, as part of Vanity Fair’s annual “New Establishment” list. As we’d hoped, the magazine opted to pose Arianna Huffington in the sidecar of David Karp’s vintage motorcycle. (Guest appearance by Mr. Karp’s “French-English bulldog,” Clark.) Only in the version that made the October issue, Dennis Crowley is depicted emerging from a manhole, avec le swag. As before, the annual list is chockablock with tech types, but just like last year, Silicon Valley dominates.
Peter Thiel comes in at no. 37, repping for libertarian utopias between Tyler Perry and Ryan Seacrest. Elon Musk is no. 9 on the list, two rungs higher than Adele, but one spot below a new entrant: Pinterest’s Ben Silberman, no. 8. Despite Square’s caffeine-fueled growth, Jack Dorsey stayed at the no. 5 spot, but finally got the fashion props he’s been waiting for. “It’s a Prada suit; for everyday wear, it’s denim from Scott Morrison’s Earnest Sewn line, which was the first brand to use Twitter.”
Scattered among the elite are a handful of New York techies, present and accounted for. By and large, it’s the same group of people as last October, although it’s interesting to note how Vanity Fair assesses their power ranking, year-over-year.
A series of stumbles–dead jellyfish, burned sandals, iffy iPod docks–has Kickstarter backers wondering whether there’s any recourse when they bet on projects that just don’t pan on. Their discontent finally bubbled up to NPR, which politely requested some answers yesterday. And so today, the Kickstarter cofounders–Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler–took to the company blog to clarify a few things, with a post titled “Accountability on Kickstarter.”
That mason jar desk lamp hasn’t show up? The brainwave-scanning iPhone accessory not working quite right? Concerned that brilliant poet has taken off to Tahiti with your donation? Sorry, Charlie. It’s not Kickstarter’s responsibility to make you whole:
On a mild, sun-dappled Sunday, Betabeat applied our sunscreen and ventured to the Long Meadow in Prospect Park for an event aptly named “The Internet Picnic.” A few weeks ago, a friend of ours named Nicole He had won the Listserve lottery and was tasked with sending an email out to 20,000 random Internet strangers. Ms. He works in community at the crowdsourcing platform Kickstarter. “What should I write??” she frantically gChatted us, before eventually deciding to invite all 21,288 subscribers to a picnic yesterday in Brooklyn.
“I have a mole under my eye and I’ll be wearing red,” she wrote, and then posted the same invitation to her Tumblr, where it received almost 300 notes.
A healthy chunk of criticism has been lobbed at crowdfunding platform Kickstarter for using a search algorithm which “hides” failed projects. If you want to learn from projects that didn’t quite meet their funding goal, you’d be hard-pressed to do so on Kickstarter itself–failed projects are only available directly through a creator’s profile.
“This isn’t to ‘hide failure’…it’s because it would be a poor user experience (there’s no action that anyone could take) and it would expose the creators of unsuccessfully funded projects to unnecessary criticism from the web,” Kickstarter’s cofounder Yancey Strickler told TechCrunch back in May.
In The News
Kickstarter, New York’s premier crowdfunding platform, updates the public from time to time with blog posts full of delicious statistics about the number of projects funded, number of dollars raised, and types of campaigns running. These posts tend to inspire fear, awe and commentaries like “Kickstarter Hits 10,000 Projects With $60 M. Raised – Funding Accelerating Fast.”
But it will no longer be necessary to wait for the company’s sporadic memos. Kickstarter cofounder Yancey Strickler just announced a live stats page that will let anyone see the numbers surrounding different projects. The page will display information like total dollars pledged and success rate per category, updated once a day.
Art and Science
The boys from Kickstarter are going to appear on Rock Center with Brian Williams on Monday. Check out a preview clip of them explaining Kickstarter to the norms.
The crowds of young hipsters were packed in to the rafters at the Mason Temple in Fort Greene last night. They had come for a screening of Girl Walk // All Day, an epic musical across New York City, which was having its debut as a dance party thrown in partnership with their crowd funding platform, Kickstarter.
That would mean that Kickstarter is seeing more than $104 million in pledges each year, and of course as we reported earlier, funding to the platform is accelerating. The company makes money by taking a 5% cut of each project that is successfully funded. The success rate on Kickstarter is roughly 43%, which would put the companies revenues at $2.2 million.
Not only is the amount of money going through Kickstarter increasing, but the company is taking a hard look at the data from all this activity and figuring out ways to help more projects be successful, a win win for both the company and its users.
There is a lot more great info and insight from co-founder Yancey Strickler in this video, which comes from a talk he gave as part of the CreativeMornings/NewYork series at the Galapagos Art Space.