Tuesday, August 07, 2012

What's Up With Kickstarter?

Some people I generally respect really hate Kickstarter. They cite all sorts of reasons, such as the fact that less than half the projects get funded (that sounds high) and that only half of them deliver exactly what is promised (that also sounds high). They call it "the new reality TV" and so on.

Firstly, let me be clear. Kickstarter is just the gorilla in this game, not the game itself. There are plenty of other funding platforms that do more or less the same thing, such as Indiegogo, Rockethub, etc. We'll be talking about Kickstarter because everyone is familiar with it.

Second, there is probably a bubble here. Like in the nineties, there was an internet bubble. But when the bubble popped, the internet didn't go away. It just became integrated with everything we did. A technology bubble "popping" isn't the same as, say, a housing bubble or stock market bubble. So even if this bubble pops, it doesn't mean crowdfunding is going away.

Crowdfunding is here to stay because we can now talk to each other at a speed and depth never before imagined in the history of humankind. When the bubble pops, it'll simply be that crowdfunding has become commonplace enough that it's no longer a spectacle.

Which is, I think, the reason many people don't like Kickstarter. They see it as a spectacle.

So, let's talk about the things they hate.

They hate the low delivery rate.

That's valid, but it's also a misunderstanding. This is not a mall. This is not a market. This is not an investment brokerage.

I have chosen to simply accept the low delivery rate, and adjust my donations accordingly. As a patron, you should never have such a stake in a crowdfunded project that you will actually suffer if it falls through. That's foolish.

Some people choose to try to enforce a higher delivery rate. I think this is a misunderstanding. Who would do the enforcement? Who could afford to? The moment you tried to make a host responsible for the project's successful completion, you've raised the bar to the level where nobody could ever be a host. Or, at the very least, only the most slick and corporate projects could be hosted.

The way it'll work out is much the same as in any other marketplace. You have some people who stick to the safer bets, buying from established teams with a good record. Others will sponsor newbies with iffier projects, accepting the higher risk rate. And accepting that they will probably fail.


People also hate the chaos and pageantry of Kickstarter.

But the chaos and pageantry that some people are offended by? That's what being young is.

It'll mature. Until then, bitching about how immature the market is sounds like "GET OFFA MY LAWN YOU... oh, wait, yer my grandkids! GET OFFA MY LAWN ANYWAY!"


Darius Kazemi said...

I don't hate Kickstarter. I just find it disappointing a lot of the time.

I don't hate the low delivery rate. I just find it disappointing. I shrug it off -- I even say as much in my article.

The pageantry is not to my taste, but I realize it's sometimes necessary for these things to work. You want to get the attention of a crowd? One way to do it is to throw a circus.

But this is why I write negative things about Kickstarter: because I want it to mature sooner, rather than later. There are things that are broken about it. Kickstarter often annoys me, it often disappoints me, it often angers me. But I don't hate it. I would rather live in our world with Kickstarter than the same world without it.

Craig Perko said...

That's absolutely not what I thought you thought. You are pretty relentless when you talk about Kickstarter.

Darius Kazemi said...

So... what part of the following passage makes you think I'm burning with hate?

"Even in the case of the project that didn't put my name (or any names) on their site, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they are very busy running the (ongoing) project, and hey, I helped them make it happen, hooray."

It wasn't meant to be read as sarcasm, if that's how you read it.

Craig Perko said...

I did read it as sarcasm, but I was just coming from another article hating on Kickstarter and calling it fucking "reality TV", so...