Kickslowed

Like many businesses, Kickstarter isn’t in good shape these days:

Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter is the latest company to resort to layoffs during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The company filed a regulatory notice in New York last week revealing it had laid off 25 employees, or about 18 percent of its workforce. But Kickstarter tells The Verge its workforce reduction is more than twice that, as 30 employees decided to take voluntary buyouts as negotiated between the company’s management and Kickstarter’s employee union.

“The filing is correct, however, it does not reflect an international employee that was affected, nor does it take into account further staff reduction via the voluntary buyouts offered to staff. In total, we’ll see a 39 percent reduction in staff,” a Kickstarter spokesperson tells The Verge. “The majority of those leaving chose voluntary separation packages, and everyone affected is staying on through this week through the transition.”

On the positive side, it’s cool to see interesting wearables projects that have launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I hope Kickstarter doesn’t go away. From a quick scan through the site, there looks to still be a lot of interesting projects launching on their platform.

“He says he quit opioids, but he clearly has other vices.”

Ashley Carman, writing for The Verge, has a fascinating profile on the man behind the crowdfunded ‘iBackpack’ project, Doug Monahan.

Amazingly, Monohan invited Carman down to where he lives in Texas so he could clear his name:

Ochs remembers in the early 2000s, when Monahan first learned about Segway tours, Monahan wanted one for a party he was hosting but was told he’d be put on a waiting list. Instead, according to Ochs, he wrote a blank check to get one delivered to his house and paid two or three times what it should have cost. “It was a disgusting display of wealth,” Ochs says.

It’s hard to picture that life when I visit Monahan’s home now.

Nothing about his current living situation seems enviable, except for maybe his 2005 red Mercedes 500SL. His one-level Houston house smells like cigarettes. He says he quit opioids, but he clearly has other vices. He keeps margarita mix and wine in bulk. He pours one glass of wine while I’m there but then leaves it somewhere and pours another. I can’t tell if he has a bad memory or just can’t be bothered to fetch his glass. An ashtray sits next to his dozen or so computers, which he owns so he can “communicate with the world.” (Monahan mentions he used the dark web to purchase drugs in the past.)

Monohan sounds like a textbook con man.

Solid State Watch

Currently on Kickstarter:

Solid State Watch is a Casio F-91W movement permanently cast into a transparent resin case. It’s in there forever. No buttons, no functions, no light, fully waterproof and no changing that 10 year battery.
It just tells time.

Solid State Watch

I love the idea, but as my friend Jory pointed out, the $160 price tag is hefty as shit considering you can buy a Casio F-91W for $11.

At the time of this posting, they have 308 backers who have contributed over 50,000 towards their8,000 goal, so clearly there’s a market for this watch.

I can’t help but wonder when the project creators are going to grow tired of resin-coating and vacuum-sealing 300+ watches by hand? I think I’d grow annoyed after making ten.

Categories:

Crowdfunding, Product

“the first at a major tech company to unionize”

The Verge: Kickstarter employees vote to unionize:

Kickstarter employees voted to unionize today with 46 people voting for the union and 37 against. The decision makes Kickstarter employees the first at a major tech company to unionize. The employees are represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), and the unit is made up of 85 engineers, directors, analysts, designers, coordinators, and customer support specialists.

Mike Monteiro has also been an advocate of organizing unions, specifically for designers.

Categories:

Career

Cars in the Wild: San Francisco

At the end of 2015 I dedicated my Instagram account exclusively to all the old cars I spot on the streets of San Francisco (photographing old cars is a hobby bordering on an addiction).

Then in the summer of 2018 decided to compile them into a hardcover book (layout in InDesign, retouching in Lightroom). Now the book is ready to be printed up on Kickstarter.

It’s been a labor of love. If love old cars, or San Francisco, or both, check out my project. It’s called Cars in the Wild: San Francisco.

Kickstarter Project Investigation

Kickstarter hires investigative journalist to dig into one of its biggest failures:

In November, the company behind Europe’s biggest ever Kickstarter project told its backers it was shutting down. The Torquing Group had raised more than £2.3 million ($3.6 million) to fund its palm-sized Zano drone, but after delivering only around 600 of the 15,363 units paid for, the company went into liquidation. Now, with frustrated backers still smarting from their loss, Kickstarter wants to find out what went wrong. The company has hired technology journalist Mark Harris “to write a story about the collapse of the Zano drone project on Kickstarter.”

As it was reported recently, about 9 percent of Kickstarter projects fail, but when they do fail, they fail BIG, it seems.

Categories:

Product

Kickstalled

Nick Statt at the Verge on the Coolest Cooler Kickstarter disaster:

Coolest, the company behind a popular Kickstarter-funded cooler, is now selling its product for $499 on Amazon in an effort to raise enough money to continue producing new units. The news may frustrate Kickstarter backers, who were promised the product in February of this year. Coolest said today it now plans to deliver the last shipment of coolers to Kickstarter backers by April 2016.

In a video uploaded to YouTube, CEO Ryan Grepper said the Amazon sale is to “keep the lights on” and “make certain that every single backer’s Coolest can get made and shipped.” The problem lies in the cooler’s blending motor, which is made by a supplier that’s currently on strike, he said. Coolest has been unable to find a viable replacement.

As I’ve said before, making things at scale is not something you want to take lightly.

User interpol in the comments makes a great point:

Uhh, so 12,000,000 in funding — take off1mil for Kickstarter fees — divided by 60,000 units is only $200 per unit.

This seems like a vastly underfunded project.

My two successful Kickstarter projects, Bicycles for Our Minds and Charms, Quivers, and Parades both involved two ingredients: paper and ink. Once your project involves electronics and moving parts it takes the complexity to a much higher level.

This doesn’t mean poster and book projects can’t be highly complex. Then can be.

Categories:

Product

White House Wants

A few weeks ago the White House reached out to Kickstarter to help raise money for Syrian refugees.

On one hand, this is very commendable (Kickstarter is donating 100% of their fee) and I think it’s great if individuals can donate but I can’t help but think that this request came from the U.S. government. A government that spends over $600 billion a year on defense.

How about the U.S. government throw a few billion to the Syrian refugees?

Categories:

Humanity

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I’m giving you your jeans back.

I launched a new Kickstarter project. It’s called The Phoenix Jacket.

I created it because I’m tired of having my iPhone 6 Plus jab me in the leg when I sit down. I’m also tired of trying to put my wallet in either my front OR back pocket. Jeans pockets were not designed for our modern world.

This is the part of my life where I realize necessity really is the mother of invention.

Categories:

Product

Indie Publishing

John Biggs sees the tipping point for self-publishing coming soon:

I’ve gone all in with the Indie publishing movement – I’ve released three books myself and I’ve done relatively well with all of them. But the fact still remains that the entire business of books is stacked against the Indie author. While the tools are far simpler than they have ever been, the perception that an Indie book is an inferior product, at least in the eyes of established media, is strong. But that’s about to change.

Progress has been made, but there’s still more work to be done.

Categories:

Literature