Three co-founders of Kickstarter, Charles Adler, Perry Chen and Yancey Strickler, have taken to the company blog to address a rather perplexing wave of controversy over a couple of high-profile film projects.
Recent quickly funded projects from Zach Braff and the creators of Veronica Mars have sparked some angst about ‘who Kickstarter is for’, and this post is obviously an effort to open up that conversation. Many say that Kickstarter shouldn’t be about people who could conceivably find funding elsewhere for their projects. Instead, it should be ‘indie only’, and exist as a conduit for those who have little other options.
Strickler, Chen and Adler say differently in their post. “Kickstarter is a new way for creators to bring their projects to life. Not through commerce, charity, or investment — through a new model powered by a willing audience,” they write.
The long and short of the argument is very similar to the one that they brought up last year. People that back big projects by big names also create a network effect that spreads the backing love out to other projects. Basically, these touchstones create new Kickstarter users and therefore benefit everyone.
They provide some stats:
The Veronica Mars and Zach Braff projects have brought tens of thousands of new people to Kickstarter. 63% of those people had never backed a project before. Thousands of them have since gone on to back other projects, with more than $400,000 pledged to 2,200 projects so far. Nearly 40% of that has gone to other film projects.
Braff himself has even provided a lengthy interview in which he talks about why he feels that the project deserves to exist, and how it serves the fans.
While there has been plenty of chatter about the validity of ‘celebrity’ Kickstarters, there have been other targets as well. Well known webcomic Penny Arcade recently started a project to resurrect its podcast and set a $10 goal, making the funding not really the point. Instead, the project’s benefits for users will lie almost completely in stretch goals, which include bonus episodes, gaming sessions, and a USB drive with all of those episodes.
In a response to detractors in the comments section, Penny Arcade business head Robert Khoo said “we knew that whatever goal we set we would likely hit given the size of our audience, which meant that the goal # meant very little. As it stands, we’ve met that goal (woo!), so we’re absolutely committed to doing this now.”
He added that “I think Kickstarter would tell us what Kickstarter was or was not for. The platform is an amazing way to gauge support for unreleased projects, and that’s what we absolutely are using it for. I’m sorry for those that are offended by this.”
I think that Kickstarter is really just starting to take on definition, many years in and there will be plenty of permutations to the model that will kick up ire yet. But if the stats are correct, it seems that high-profile projects that spawn new backers and more dollars for other projects can’t be a bad thing.