The curse of crowdfunding

It would work if it weren’t for the crowd.

Posted by Scott Harrell on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 3:41 PM

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Kickstarter! Indiegogo! Gofundme!

The future is now! The millennials did it! They found a way to saw through the Achilles tendon of big business, like undead Gage Creed sawed through the Achilles tendon of Jud Crandall in the film adaptation of Pet Sematary! Patronage is the way to go! Capitalism, your days are numbered!

Except not really.

Because people ruin everything.

It’s not the fault of crowdfunding. Crowdfunding, as a concept, is simple and direct and awesome: you pledge your financial support for a thing, and you get the thing, as well as the special feeling that comes from knowing you supported the thing. And if you go above and beyond in your support of the thing, you get an super-extra-limited-edition version of the thing, along with an exponentially enhanced version of the special feeling that goes along with knowing you supported the thing more than some other people did.

On paper, it’s damn near perfect.

But what happens when it leaves the realm of concept, and enters the realm of practical application?

You get your people who take the money and run. You get your people who take twice as long as promised to deliver, then deliver something less than was promised. You get your people who scream for blood when they get what was promised, only 10 minutes later than promised.

In short, you get your people.

We haven’t ruined crowdfunding yet in the, what, 10 minutes that it’s been a thing. But we’ve already tainted it to the point at which any support we give feels more like gambling than patronage. I know some folks who still get angry when they fund something that doesn’t come off as advertised, and I know some folks who fund something assuming from the get-go there’s only a 50/50 chance — at best — that they’ll see something from it. Either way, it’s a shame.

What’s happened to crowdfunding over the last couple of years is irrefutable evidence of the fatal flaw that powers every progressive pipe dream: the notion that people are fundamentally good, and that, if given the opportunity, will do the right thing.

Unfortunately, it’s bullshit. The world is full of intelligent, educated, discerning people just waiting for a chance to exploit the kindness of other people for their own gain. Kind people have to share the world with selfish, greedy dickbags — it’s a fact to which many progressives seem willfully blind.

Today, I read a story about Marijn Dekkers, CEO of Big Pharma outfit Bayer, and how upset he was that India was allowing a local company to produce a cheap generic version of Bayer’s cancer drug Nexavar. Dekkers, obviously a born humanitarian, said the drug hadn’t been made for poor Indians — it had been made for the wealthy Westerners who could afford it in the first place.

For the sake of perspective, thinkprogress.com reports genuine Nexavar treatment costs $69,000 a year in India. The generic version costs $177 per dose — a 97 percent discount in a country where the full price constitutes 41 times the average annual salary.

I left a comment, lamenting the fact that I wasn’t even shocked anymore by a statement like Dekkers’.

Someone quickly responded that he or she was indeed still shocked, and glad of it — that to no longer be shocked meant that such behavior was to be expected.

I respect the position. I admire the optimism. But I also can’t help wondering if the commenter isn’t still waiting on a product whose funding goal was met, and whose delivery date was set for 12 or 18 months ago. And I would counter the assertion that it’s somehow enough to be shocked by the dickbag protocol with the suggestion that we should be taking more proactive steps toward eliminating the dickbag protocol entirely.
In the name of progress.

All of which is a long-winded pitch to try to get all of you to fund my Dickbag Protocol Elimination Kit. Special incentives, like your name Dremel-tooled into the skull of the Koch brother of your choice, start at three times the base pledge!

Comments (2)

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i have participated in 2 kickstarter projects.

one ended in a glorious disaster with a mentally unstable (or at least that is the story they are using to deflect some of the hate) l33t savant. about three years in and it is starting to look like maybe by year 5 the backers at my level will get all they are due.

the other was with a national touring act (which i have some concerns about the ethos of) and those at my level have received most of the package, less the item that was being created (a dvd) for KS. i think it will be here within a year and i don't have any concern about this being completed.

KS is not for instantaneous gratifacation. it sucks to get delays, but it really blows when you get burned. at this point i am pretty sour to the KS.

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Posted by jj on 01/30/2014 at 6:30 PM

Thanks for commenting, JJ. I have definitely not funded a few things I was initially really excited about over the last year or so because of "screw-fear," and while it's not exactly an objective sampling, I would saw a majority of my friends who are/were evangelical about crowdfunding have grown much more skeptical of the practice.

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Posted by Scott Harrell on 01/31/2014 at 1:14 PM
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