First time filmmaker Jack Marchetti doesn’t know how long it will be until he loses his sight.
“The main problem I have is just night vision,” said Marchetti. “If there’s not a decent amount of light around I might as well close my eyes and do it that way. Dark bars, dark restaurants are really a problem. Which really makes socializing with co-workers kind of suck because everyone always wants to go out for drinks and it’s like ‘Well I don’t want to ask you guys to walk me to the bathroom.’ It’s the only time I ever feel handicapped: when I’m in a very dark bar or a very dark restaurant.”
As a child Marchetti was diagnosed with cone rod dystrophy, a degenerative disease that his older brother also had. For most of their lives Marchetti’s brother had the stronger vision. That all changed a few years ago. (more…)
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Earlier this month Appsblogger did some data scraping looking to see just what the failure rate on Kickstarter projects were. In that sampling Video Games were pegged as succeeding just about 43% of the time. As it turns out, things are worse than that, as Eric Caolli of gaming industry news site Gamasutra summarizes:
Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter has released internal data showing that game projects have one of the lowest success rates on the service, with only a third of them hitting their pledge goals.
There’s been a bit of controversy over the failure rate at Kickstarter of late, with writer Dan Misner charging that the crowdfunding site hides it’s failures. That turned out to be a bit overblown– the site was keeping old projects from hitting external search engines, but were still fully searchable at Kickstarter itself– but more and more scrutiny is being focused on the Internet institution as wild successes are raising expectations as to just what is possible at the site.
Yes, it’s only been around for less than five years, but we’re talking Internet time, it’s practically due for disruption at this rate.
Kickstarter itself is providing the new data, which is scheduled to be updated daily. This shows that while they are willing to bask in the glory of success, they are not afraid to do face the hard truths of the numbers.
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One of the top minds in independent film is Jon Reiss, author of the highly-influential book Think Outside the Box Office. I won’t get too detailed about Jon’s work, but one of his key philosophies involves turning your film into an event. So instead of having your film run for a week in a theater, you have it run for one day and you pour all your efforts into making that one day as cool as possible. It gives people a reason to go see your film, instead of the more passive traditional approach.
It’s a good philosophy with a strong record, so the question then becomes: how can we translate that to different parts of the process? Specifically, can we turn a Kickstarter campaign into an event?
There’s obvious applications of this. You can have a kickoff party locally and use that to fuel the first couple of days of the campaign. Or you could do something similar at the end. But that’s inherently limited to where you live and, more importantly, where your audience lives.
Or you can try and build your event around something else.
Selene Hollow by Damian Dydyn
Full Disclosure: This is a client, but hopefully you’ll see why I picked this one.
A couple of weeks ago I was in Hartford to speak on a panel and hung out with Damian Dydyn, a filmmaker I’ve known for a little while. He had hired me to work on the campaign for his web series Selene Hollow and we figured this would be a more efficient way to do things than trading emails.
So let’s walk through the process of coming up with an event for Selene Hollow.
Selene Hollow is a web series about a spot on the map that more or less doesn’t exist, but where all sorts of weird things happen. Like, for example, the Zombie Apocalypse. Zombies are a great starting point for an original perk. There’s a built-in narrative that doesn’t require any explanation on your part. People are well aware of what zombies do. You don’t need to bring them up to speed.
So what we decided to do was at the lowest backer level give people a digital pass that protects people from the Zombie Apocalypse. Backers can print it out and when the zombies show up, it’ll function as a security pass. It’s a gimmick, but it’s a fun gimmick. In a perfect world, they’d send you a kit with a button and a magnet and whatever, but for a campaign working on a very tight budget, this does the trick. And, they could still create that pretty easily. The zombie pass features a QR code that they can have point to a website like www.website.com/qr and either re-direct straight to the main page, or they can use that page to send their backers to special content. Like, say, early access to the episodes, or behind-the-scenes stuff, or a creator Q&A. It could be anything, really. All they have to do is tell people to scan their QR codes. It costs them nothing and is incredibly flexible. All told, it’s a pretty solid base level perk that, properly executed, accomplishes a lot of different things.
But what’s the point of surviving the Zombie Apocalypse if none of your loved ones survive it with you?
One of the things crowdfunding campaigns all struggle with is how to maintain interest in the middle section of the campaign. Our data suggests that most of the money raised comes in the first three days and last three days of the campaign, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the other 20 or so days of your campaign. You need that time to build toward the final push, and anything you can do to grab eyeballs during that stretch is something you want to explore. Plus, it’s not like the money you raise on day 15 doesn’t count the same as the money you raise on day 30.
We started brainstorming and pretty quickly realized that Mother’s Day was in the middle of our projected lull. And that’s a no-brainer: save your Mom from the Zombie Apocalypse.
Basically, during a time period, a backer reward is doubled. It adds some urgency to the campaign apart from the final deadline and, depending on execution, can add a lot of value. It’s also a pitch that’s easy to give: Don’t Eat My Mom. It works well on social media and should draw more eyeballs than your standard “Please give us money” pitch. Then it’s up to the rest of the campaign to turn those eyeballs into backers.
And your mom might get a kick out of it, depending on how weird she is.
Will it work? Stay tuned.
Impasse, which we profiled two weeks ago, hit their goal. Depending on when you read this, there might be a few hours left in the campaign….Actor turned director Matthew Lillard (you know, the guy from Scream) has launched a campaign to self-distribute his punk rock film Fat Kid Rules The World (which won an Audience Award at SXSW) on the Vans Warped Tour and beyond. If you’re a Pearl Jam fan, there’s a couple of cool perks….Noah did a nice writeup on The Canyons and brought up a great point on Twitter. They’re not raising their full budget (one assumes), so the margins on their perks are less important. The campaign will function more as an audience builder than a pure project funder. It’s an important distinction to keep in mind while watching the campaign.
Lucas McNelly is the filmmaker behind A YEAR WITHOUT RENT, UP COUNTRY, BLANC DE BLANC, and GRAVIDA. He runs Kickstarter campaigns for a living. He hasn’t lived anywhere in a long time.
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Ok class, for our next lesson, we’re going to take a look at a campaign for a short film. The campaign itself has made a couple of pretty big mistakes, but just like we did last week, we’re going to look at one specific aspect of the campaign that’s working.
IMPASSE by Michael Bekemeyer & Jeanne Bowerman
People who make movies spend a lot of time talking about existing properties. You hear this a lot in Hollywood circles, of course, as the studios will seemingly adapt anything, no matter how much the jump to the big screen stretches the limits of plausibility (Battleship? Really?). But there’s a reason for that: you’ve heard of Battleship. You’ve played Battleship. It’s easier to talk John Q. Public into seeing a film if they already know something about it. This is not complicated and I can’t imagine I’m telling you something you don’t already know.
But where you don’t see a lot of existing properties is in low budget independent film. Sure, every so often you get a film like Matthew Lillard’s Fat Kid Rules The World that adapts a book with an existing audience, but most of the time you’re dealing with entirely new stories that need to more or less start from scratch.
Enter Jeanne Bowerman, a screenwriter who’s career is pretty much defined by Twitter. Along with a couple of others, she started the weekly #scriptchat discussion and has diligently built a reputation as one of the more generous people in the Twitter film community.
Most of the time, she works out of a Panera office, but a little over a year ago, she shifted to a Starbucks and became transfixed by an argument a couple was having in the parking lot. This being Jeanne, she started live tweeting it. You can read the entirety of it here (they released it at the $4,000 mark), but I pulled a few of the tweets below:
This went on for quite a while, and before long, Jeanne had her followers transfixed by the scene that was unfolding before them, in real time. People were talking about it. A lot. According to Jeanne, the number was in the hundreds. I was online for the whole thing and I remember it pretty vividly even now. So when the campaign for Impasse launched, it took all of 5 minutes to realize it was the adaptation of that story. She had, out of thin air and a little bit of voyeurism, created for herself an existing property. But more importantly, it was a valuable property. One she could leverage into a short film. Crowdfunding it was a no-brainer.
To quote Jeanne, who I reached via email:
The plan was always to crowdfund. To be completely honest, I have very little experience with crowdfunding, so this is all quite surreal to me. I’ve helped many an indie filmmaker raise money… I do love to pimp indie… but I have not run my own campaign before. In hindsight, I can already see where I’ve made mistakes, mostly in pre-planning. I just started my full-time job as ScriptMag.com’s editor only weeks before we launched, and I’ve been swamped getting past the learning curve of both the new job and running a Kickstarter campaign. Some days I can only pop into social media for quick spurts, but I’m trying not to inundate with self-promotion. In an ideal world, I’d have time to still organically engage in between calls for support.
But overall, we’re learning as we go, and people are unbelievably generous and kind. Today we posted the original tweets from that day at the coffeehouse, and the response has been incredible. We contemplated posting the actual Impasse script, but in many ways, this is even better. People will understand the tone of the film and the emotion it will evoke just by reading the tweets, yet it allows us to keep the story a surprise. It’s already exciting our backers. We’re thrilled with the response.
She built an audience for her project, and now she’s leveraging that audience to bring the film into fruition. And that’s what crowdfunding is all about.
Last week’s project, Brea Grant’s Best Friends Forever, cruised past the $75,000 goal on Saturday en route to over $80K….Going down the meta rabbit hole is this documentary about crowdfunding which naturally has a Kickstarter campaign. As for the campaign, it’s not great. Timon Birkhofer, if you’re reading this, come interview me and we’ll do a scene for the doc where I tear down your campaign and re-build it…If you missed it earlier in the week, there’s a really interesting article about a campaign that is trying to fix a campaign that made a lot of mistakes in trying to duplicate Double Fine’s success. Three weeks of pre-production for any campaign is really low…See something interesting in the works? Let me know on Twitter.
Lucas McNelly is the filmmaker behind A Year Without Rent, Up Country, Blanc De Blanc, and Gravida. He runs Kickstarter campaigns for a living. He hasn’t lived anywhere in a long time.
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Not every Kickstarter campaign for a video game is an out of the gate smash. In the past few months this expectation has been set thanks to the wild success of projects like Double Fine Adventure, which became the second Kickstarter project ever to break the million dollar barrier– and it did that in just 24 hours.
Since then we’ve seen more million dollar game projects, not to mention the insane success of the Pebble E-paper watch ($6 million plus and growing in a week).
Yet no matter how much talent and skill might be behind a project there are no guarantees that lightning can be bottled. Such is the case at the moment with Republique, a game for iOS with an amazing talent pedigree, a great looking trailer, and a worthy ambition: to bring a console style storytelling experience to Apple’s ubiquitous touch devices.
We talked with Ryan Payton, who left his position as Creative Director of Halo 4 at Microsoft to start up Camouflaj, the studio behind Republique. Camouflaj is looking to raise half a million on Kickstarter in order to retain creative control over their vision: a game set in ’1984′ style surveillance state. The player subverts the role of “Big Brother” in order to help the on-screen protagonist, Hope, escape from the clutches of the oppressive regime.
Payton was amazingly candid, willing to talk not only about his reasons for embracing crowd funding in the first place, but about where the campaign has faltered and his plans to set the ship aright. In the interview he reveals the inflated numbers that industry experts told him to expect, and talks about his passion for bringing the storytelling side of gaming to what has unexpectedly become the biggest gaming platform in the world.
All too often it seems as if these Kickstarter campaigns run on magic, that the only options are either wild success or abject failure. This interview was a unique opportunity to look at a campaign in turn around, which is essential to understand if the crowd funding model is to fulfill it’s promise of establishing new talent, and not just serve as a way of rewarding previous successes.
Turnstyle: Was running a Kickstarter campaign something you had in mind before Double Fine?
Ryan Payton: Absolutely not it wasn’t on our radar at all. I think Tim Schafer and Double Fine revolutionized the way that smaller games are made. We were in an interesting position in early February. My business partner and I were both pitching Republique around and trying to drum up buzz for the game. Trying to understand in terms of funding what we had to give up in order to get the funding. We were kind of scratching our heads because while everyone we met was very enthusiastic about the game on a creative level, they got really nervous on the business side of things.
This is a pretty big budget for a game in a user base [iOS] that hasn’t proven yet that you can do a story based game and be successful. We knew that we had something exciting and everyone that we showed it to anecdotally said ‘I want to play this game’, but then they turned around and said ‘Here’s your budget and let’s make this work.’ We were in a coffee shop scratching our heads trying to figure out how to do this and I was checking on my phone and saw the news about Tim. I saw how his Kickstarter campaign exploded on the first day and I said to Jeff: ‘Maybe this is an option for us.’
We said ‘Well, it’s because of Tim Schafer and I don’t think we’re going to be able to reach the numbers he does. But maybe we can get half. That will help us get a lot more leverage to come back to these people, who even said if we come up with half of the funding than they’ll meet us halfway. We won’t have to give up the IP ownership and the creative control.’
Then I spent about three weeks or so really plotting and planning our Kickstarter campaign so we had the best looking page, the best video and I think a really well thought out, really creative reward tiers.
TS: How much of an active churn are you doing from day to day to drive the campaign forward?
RP: So I would say that my biggest takeaway from doing the Kickstarter campaign is making sure I have fuel in my tank from day one of the campaign starting. We were working an insane amount of hours. Even before we knew about Kickstarter we were committed in the short amount of time and the limited budget that we had that we were going to make our proof of concept and we were going to make our trailer. I was working like crazy. I was down in Los Angeles cutting the trailer with [CGI animation studio] Logan, trying to get the Kickstarter figured out, not sleeping. I could feel my body just breaking down and getting sick. We were just crawling to the finish line. I hit the launch button and I was just exhausted. I stayed up the whole night to see what would happen.
We were really strong out of the gate and then we just started tapering off.
Stoic, the guys behind The Banner Saga, they reached out to me and said they were really impressed with what we were doing with our page and they commented that Kickstarter is like a full time job. I think it’s like three full time jobs. I’m answering literally hundreds of questions that come into Kickstarter. I’m on Twitter. I’m on our Facebook account. I’m taking any kind of press request and talking with them and doing email interviews or phone interviews. In addition to prepping all the different announcements that we’ve been planning out.
I think that we haven’t done a great job in terms of having a constant flow of information out to the public, but I’ve made a decision that I’ve been reaching out to the individuals at the very beginning. Now I’m really focusing on making sure that we have a lot of cool videos and have a lot of announcements for the final two and a half weeks of the campaign. The good thing is that we have some really cool stuff on the horizon.
TS: What were some of your expectations when you launched?
RP: To be completely honest we had no idea what to expect. There were very well known people in the industry, very smart people being paid a lot of money for their opinions, who told us we were crazy for coming up with the $500K for the goal. We should be asking for $900,000. We should be asking for a million, for the full budget, because the trailer’s so good. The game is so solid. The reputation of the team and Logan is so strong that we’d be crazy not to ask for more money.
I honestly didn’t have anyone approach us and say that we were being too aggressive. A friend of mine told me recently that I’m kind of guilty of wearing my heart on my sleeve, and I make myself vulnerable. I think that’s probably true. I speak my mind. I was disappointed coming out of the gate, I thought we’d be stronger and I spent about three days talking to anybody who would listen or who would give me their opinion about what they thought was missing from the campaign. Why were we not stronger out of the gate?
What we’ve settled on as a team, is that it comes down to platform.
TS: The fact that it’s on iOS?
RP: We went into a space that up till now has only funded big PC games, and PC gamers are really excited and they’re being empowered. We went into that space and said ‘We know you guys love PC, but can you fund our iPad and iPhone game.’
The thing that’s frustrating to me is that there are people in the past week or so who’ve said ‘Hey Ryan, you’re an idiot because clearly Kickstarter is only for PC.’ I think it could have easily could have gone the other way and people would have been saying ‘You guys are really smart and really brave for being the first one’s out of the gate on iOS.’
TS: It’s still an untested…
RP: Exactly. Who knew?
There’s a lot of resistance to iOS and there’s a lot of resistance to touch based devices, and I totally empathize with people who are worried about their favorite game developers abandoning consoles or abandoning PC to work on throw away iPhone games. Some pretty terrible titles have been released for the App Store.
What we’re trying to do is make games that we would like to play on the iOS platform and really deign the game and write the game for that platform. I think that’s one of the hallmarks of a high quality studio is that they make games specifically for the platform. I think you see a lot of game studios getting in trouble becasue they port really good games to platforms that aren’t appropriate to them.
I’ve just been trying to appeal to the community and say: ‘We have a vision of the game. We’re with you. We don’t like what’s on iOS right now but we want to help provide that. We want to change the way that games are played.’
TS: What drew you to do a game with the theme of a totalitarian society with a ’1984′ vibe in this day and age?
RP: I see it all around me. We’re well into the Orwellian prediction and we’re living in this very Orwellian world already. What I’m observing is just the set up. I don’t think that we’re living in a very totalitarian state or a totalitarian world right now, but I believe the hooks are being put in place. I don’t actually believe that the hooks are being put in place for pure malicious reasons, it’s just progress and technology. What this game offers us the chance to do is open up the debate, open up the discussion on ‘is all of this surveillance that’s going on in the world, is that a positive thing? And what do we do about it?’
I like the way that we’re approaching it from a narrative perspective, because the way we’re actually approaching it the player is taking the role of Big Brother and doing something for good. I think that mixes up the debate and it’s not just ’1984′. All these aspects of being watched and surveillance is negative. I think were doing a spin on that topic to see there’s some positivity to come out of viewing the world through a surveillance camera.
TS: Where did the idea of “watching” the main character come from?
RP: A lot of the inspiration for the game came from really deep thinking I put into behind the narrative. Just thinking about a first person game. When I was on Halo for example: just the whole idea that you’re embodying another person but you can’t see your body. A lot of the ideas for Republique came out of the idea of let’s take that a step further. Let’s not put you in the role of a Master Chief or Gordon Freeman (Half-Life). Instead of you embodying those characters let’s put the player actually into the world and really explore storytelling in that space.
We’ve kind of pushed that kind of Joseph Campbell archetype of the hero to it’s limits to a degree and it’s time to start exploring some new paradigms. Especially in interactive entertainment. We have some much to do in the story space and the narrative in games and I’m just excited that we’re at least trying to push the envelope.
TS: What are your hopes for the campaign now? What’s the mood and the attitude at the studio right now?
RP: The attitude and the mood of the studio is very upbeat. I think mainly because I have shielded the team off from the Kickstarter campaign because we do have a very limited budget. My bank account is getting smaller and smaller every day. We know we have a limited amount of time to make this game, especially with the pressures of Kickstarter. The team is just really buckling down, and finishing the next gameplay space that we’re designing right now. I’ve just asked people to not be distracted by kickstarter and I’m going to take it all on myself.
That was partially a mistake, that’s why you’re seeing such a slow roll-out in terms of the Kickstarter campaign, because I took it all on my shoulders and I didn’t realize how much work goes into this.
I just recently brought on Billy Berghammer [a veteran games journalist and former colleague of Payton]. Billy Berghammer is local to the Seattle area and he just signed on for the duration of the Kickstarter campaign to help me. I think you’re going to start seeing a lot of content going out, because it was my mistake to think I could do it all by myself.
Payton and company have just 17 days left to raise over $400K. The studio chief has staked his career on this project. The fate of Republique may very well define what limits, if any, Kickstarter has as a platform for starting new gaming ventures.
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Like almost everything else in my life over the last couple of years, this is an article that starts on Twitter.
Some backstory: more or less accidentally, I’ve gotten a reputation of someone who knows a lot about crowdfunding. It wasn’t planned, but when you spend enough time in the space and run a couple of successful campaigns, suddenly people start asking you for advice. And now, to pay the rent, I’ve started consulting on crowdfunding campaigns, mostly because people started offering to pay me for my advice.
It doesn’t make any sense to me either.
I say that partially as an introduction and partially as a disclaimer. If I’m writing about a project I’m working on, I’ll let you know.
But back to that tweet. One of the things I say to people over and over again is that one of the most important things about your perks is that you have to give people the impression that you’ve put some thought into them, and one of the best ways to do that is to come up with a creative perk that could only really apply to your campaign. Doing a documentary about coffee? Send people personalized bags of coffee. Making a film in a small town? Put your backers in that town. Stuff like that. But it’s not just perks. It’s gimmicks. It’s pitch videos. It’s updates. Nothing turns people off faster than a crowdfunding campaign that’s so obviously by the numbers. Part of your goal is to get people to connect with your project. What’s special about it? Why should people give you money over the dozens of other campaigns running at the same time?
That’s the genesis of this column. We’re going to take a look at some specific things that current campaigns are doing and how that both relates to their campaign and moves the interaction with their audience forward. Hopefully we’ll shed some light on some deserving artists in the process.
BEST FRIENDS FOREVER by Brea Grant
Disclosure time: I worked on this film. As in, the actual production of the film. I was the Best Boy Electric.
First up is a project with a big hurdle to climb. Brea Grant (Heroes, Friday Night Lights, Dexter, etc.) is funding the post-production of her directorial debut Best Friends Forever, an apocalyptic road trip movie that filmed this past fall way out in West Texas. The film is female-centric all around, with women serving as lead actors, director, writers, producers, director of photography, and a litany of roles down the chain. It was also shot in Super 16mm, making it one of the more unique indie film productions around (see the $500 perk level). There’s girl power all over the campaign, but I want to focus on something else.
There’s two videos in this campaign that are kind of perfect examples of what people can do to get people behind their cause. First, the emotional one, from producer Stacey Storey:
Kickstarter for Best Friends Forever from Stacey Storey on Vimeo.
You’ll notice a couple of things, but the chief two are the emotion that’s clearly involved here, but also the fact that the video was shot on the last day of production, when it was all fresh and before everyone scattered to the wind. It’s a real moment, the kind of thing that people sometimes try and keep hidden, but plays well in this environment.
And then there’s this one, which is just fun:
1-2-3–go! from Stacey Storey on Vimeo.
This is their goal video for $15,000. It does a couple of things for the campaign. First, it’s fun. It’s something shareable, which is especially helpful when you’ve got a public figure as the face of your campaign (see also: Brea’s Reddit Q&A). It makes you as an audience member want to be part of the group that’s flash-mobbing a library. You want to join the team. There’s a built-in fan base here that should theoretically respond very well. But it’s also applicable to the project. Brea’s character in the film is a librarian (hence the library), and the song is a song from the movie. Not some dance track they found, but something that ties in to the actual project. And I know that sounds simple, but you’d be surprised just how many videos for campaigns fail to do something as simple as using music they have permission to use.
It’s kind of a perfect video for this campaign. But it’s made even better when played in contrast with the first one. It’s a ying/yang approach.
And it’s not just those two videos. As of right now (around 4p.m. EDT on Wednesday), they’ve posted 39 updates, most of them with video. That’s a lot. They’re reaching out and putting in the work, but they’re still roughly $20,000 from their goal with five days to go (as of right now).
You missed your window to flash-mob a library, but you can still join the team. They’re doing karaoke for the $50,000 goal. I, for one, can’t wait to see what they’ve got planned for the end.
Lucas McNelly is the filmmaker behind A YEAR WITHOUT RENT, UP COUNTRY, BLANC DE BLANC, and GRAVIDA. He hasn’t lived anywhere in a long time.
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Opinions expressed in Game of Buzz are those of the author alone.
YouTube users are now able to pop a link to crowd funding sites Kickstarter and IndieGoGo right inside their videos. Google announced the new use of the Annotations feature on the official YouTube Creator blog this morning.
On the surface this may not seem like that big of a deal, allowing a small link in the video window to a fundraising page, from a user engagement angle this is huge. Every barrier that is removed between a project and a potential funder is a win for the crowd funding movement.
This also bolsters YouTube’s position as the dominant marketplace for original online video content. The video giant has been pushing it’s new channel format in recent months, and is following the lead of creators like Freddie Wong in embracing crowd funding as a means of financing content.
While technology and video game projects on Kickstarter have seen a dramatic uptick in funding this year, the full potential of crowd funding has yet to be unlocked. The YouTube audience is far larger than the funding pool of even the most succesful Kickstarter project, and the potential is there to condition that audience into being regular contributors to the programming they watch.
Crowd funding emerged as the financial balast to the Creative Commons model of sharing content freely, and there is no bigger repository of sharable media than YouTube.
[h/t to Lucas McNelly, via TechCrunch]
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Opinions expressed in Game of Buzz are the sole responsibility of the author.
It sounded like a decent enough idea: roll back some of the rules that kept small investors out of the start-up market. Take the idea of crowd funding and turn it into a real and (lightly) regulated part of the financial sector.
If only that’s what the “Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act” (JOBS Act) really did. In a scathing piece over at Rolling Stone reporter Matt Taibbi shows some real personal restraint from his usually florid style in order to make his analysis of the bill. Tl;dr version: it’s an invitation to fraud that will make the housing bubble look like a lemonade stand.
There’s just no benefit that the JOBS Act brings to an honest startup company. In fact, it puts an honest company at a severe disadvantage, because now it has to compete against other, less scrupulous companies that can simply make their projections up on the backs of envelopes.
This is like formally eliminating steroid testing for the first five years of a baseball player’s career. Yes, you can pretty much bet that you’ll see a lot of home runs in the first few years after you institute a rule like that. But you’d better be ready to stick a lot of asterisks in the record books ten or fifteen years down the line.
The investment bankers who salivate over this stuff are generally lumped in with the political faction we label “conservative.” What I want you to do is dig down into Taibbi’s piece and look at his points of criticism: that lax rules allow for unproven businessmen to acquire boatloads of capital without having to show a profit in the first place. Taibbi practically calls for a return to the accounting practices of the past. Who’s the real conservative here?
Frankly, I’m ashamed I didn’t pay closer attention to this. I was distracted by the implications this will have for the crowd funding movement. Some, like Lucas McNelly, think that it will lead to a drying up of Kickstarter-style “donation” capital. I hadn’t done enough research to comfortably weigh in, but on the surface figured that this was aimed pretty far afield of arts projects.
Turns out it was, way more than I realized. Read through all of Taibbi’s piece and then let’s meet back here in five years. I’ll bring the cans of petrol, you bring the stewed squirrel meat.
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Opinions expressed in Game of Buzz are the sole responsibility of the author.
What’s a tech blogger to do when a popular crowdfunding site becomes so popular that it becomes difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff?
If you’re Joe Brown of Gizmodo, it’s whine about how it sucks and pledge not to cover projects on the site until they do something about it. The site being Kickstarter, which has become more and more of an open marketplace of ideas as the years have worn on.
This wouldn’t be worth noting if Brown was just a rank and file Gizmodo blogger. The trouble is that Brown is the current Editor-In-Chief of this still influential tech site. While it’s his perogative to cover what he wants, it’s also a terrible statement about the editorial will over at Gizmodo.
Instead of seeing the unfettered marketplace of ideas at Kickstarter as an opportunity to cultivate great products and talents, Brown pretty much throws up his arms and declares it a chore. And here I always thought that the cool thing about the internet was the chance that it gave nobodies to become great innovators.
If Gizmodo doesn’t want to do the work of finding great projects on crowdfunding sites, then someone else will step up. The Giz crew should get used to being irrelevant.
That’s why I’m done with Gizmodo. If their editorial stance is “we have the right to be lazy bloggers” that’s fine. They’re just not worth the time anymore.
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I make no secret about being excited about Kickstarter. Like, all the time excited. Which doesn’t mean that crowdfunding is a slam dunk for every filmmaker, game dev, and slam poetry artist looking to bring their vision mewling into the world.
In the wake of the titanic successes of a few indie game projects in the past month the exuberance of the game community—many of them discovering Kickstarter and its ilk for the first time– is creating some distorted expectations.
The always diligent Patrick Klepek has a story at Giant Bomb today that examines some near and possibly soon to be near crowdfunding misses.
[Borut] Pfeifer pointed to how developers still have to really, really worry about presenting and pitching their idea, especially if there’s not much to show for it, and they still have to answer to a group of invested individuals, which means creative autonomy is somewhat limited. It’s not a perfect solution.
On Kickstarter, There Are No Guarantees—Giant Bomb
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