Almost a year later, where does Kickstarter’s blockchain initiative stand?

About a year ago, give or take two months, Kickstarter announced that they would be engaging in some sort of blockchain-based initiative. Reaction was varied, and by varied, I mean people who liked distributed excel sheet blockchain technology saw this as further proof of the the future ascension of that tech.

If you were someone who actually ran Kickstarter campaigns, you may have seen it as a sign that you should look into BackerKit or Gamefound.

When this whole thing was announced, Bitcoin was around $50,000, and Ethereum was about $4300. Anyway, it’s been a little bit. Some things have happened. Bitcoin is now around $19,500,and Ethereum sits at $1300 and it seems like as good a time as any to check in on that whole Kickstarter Blockchain thing.

Before we get any further into this though, there’s one large thing I want to address. In a massive amount of the coverage, there’s an announcement that Kickstarter would be moving onto some form of blockchain technology within the year.

This claim was actually going to be the base of this rant. I’d poke fun at blockchain, and then mock companies who think they can perform a full technical transformation on a project that hasn’t entered the planning phase with a “new” technology in less then a year, and just generally act all smug. Y’know, given that they’d have just under 3 months from today to meet their own deadline.

Unfortunately, I cannot find evidence that Kickstarter ever actually made this claim. The primary source of their 1-year timeline is this Bloomberg article. To make matters more annoying, I can’t find evidence that they didn’t make this claim. The Bloomberg article in question has a published time of 1:45 EST, the Kickstarter article doesn’t have a published timeframe, and the first Wayback Machine capture in the Archives is from 4:41 PM EST.

I’d personally say, “Kickstarter appears to have never said this.” There is a period of time between 9:00 AM EST and that first Wayback Machine capture where Kickstarter could have updated the article. That said, they eventually edited out one sentence about publishing a white paper, and that took them a long time to change. I think it’s unlikely that they published a timeline, and then edited it out within hours.

One brief addendum before I drop this track entirely. I reached out to both the author of the Bloomberg article, and Kickstarter directly to ask for clarity on this point. The Bloomberg writer didn’t respond, and Kickstarter stated the end of 2022 date was referencing a timeline for setting up a organization to investigate the solution.

Regardless, it’s hard to see this whole blockchain thing as a win of any sort for Kickstarter. At the time of the announcement, it drew a fair amount of criticism and scorn from many users of the their platform. Both creators and backers criticized the direction, and many users considered moving to Kickstarers’ competitors. As of right now, crypto has lost a massive amount of value, and continues to be a solution in search of a problem, unless the problem is “How do you make make money off ransomware?”

Kickstarter itself has also been fairly quiet about all of this. There was a recent interview on Dicebreaker with the new Kickstarter CEO.

I’m gonna be honest. I read the interview. I appreciate Chase Carter’s (the interviewer’s) directness with some of the questions. But that doesn’t help the answers.

Everette Taylor doesn’t really take a stand for or against Kickstarter’s blockchain initiative. Instead, he repeatedly states that Kickstarter won’t become a Web3 company. He says that Kickstarter is still focused on their core value add, but also doesn’t say they won’t continue investigating. He frankly doesn’t say much of anything.

Ed Note: This isn’t intended as an insult. If anything it’s a compliment. I understand why he’s not going to say anything, and I admire that he’s able to to do it so effectively. Publicly giving your honest opinion on all the bad decisions of the company that just hired you probably is not a great strategy for long term employment. All that said, I’m enthusiast media. I can both admire the skill and call it somewhat BS that he’s not committing to any actual policy.

The spiciest statement Taylor makes is this: “I believe that a lot of people’s issues with Kickstarter’s exploration of the blockchain are doing so with misinformation.”

It’s a great statement because it looks like it says a lot, but promises and says nothing. Are you pro-blockchain? “Our customers only dislike blockchain because they’re misinformed.” Are you anti-blockchain? “People only dislike it because they don’t understand that we’re just exploring the space, not committing to it.”

You can choose to read it however you want, and even if you take a neutral stance, it’s still hollow. Is the misinformation about blockchain ,or Kickstarter’s exploration of the process, or something else entirely? Who knows!

Regardless, here’s the state of Kickstarter nine months later: There’s been no active forward progress that’s been publicly reported. In both interviews, and requests for comment, Kickstarter hasn’t disavowed itself of involvement with blockchain technology, but they also haven’t committed to any outwardly visible extent. If the whole thing was an attempt to drum up interest and attention, I’d say it pretty visibly backfired. If it was an expression of legitimate interest in the crypto/blockchain sphere, any fruits are extremely slow growing.