Crowdfunding the future

We have CEO Everett Taylor speaking with Brian heater please welcome them to the Stage [Music] It's always a crap shoot having a last Panel of the day but this is Pretty good I'm feeling pretty good About this crowd there's like a slight Mass Exodus but I appreciate I don't Know what everybody rocking with us yeah For sure whatever it thanks for doing This uh you and I talked for the first Time I think the day or shortly after Your role was announced which was almost Like year to the day almost yeah from Right now so this is kind of a perfect Opportunity to take stock and reflect on The last year I'm going to ask you the Same first question that I asked you Last time you know when you came on Board Kickstarter was having some Troubles probably not an easy job I mean Being CEO is never easy but particularly In that instance why'd you take the job Well first of all if it was easy I Probably wouldn't have got the job in The first place Um but secondly Um I've gotten to this point in my life Where I'm driven by impact more than Anything and Um I'm not proud to say like I've made Decisions in my career that maybe I Wasn't the most aligned with or most

Passionate about Um because there's a kind of rap race to Like you know move up and elevating your Career and make more money and you know Coming from where I come from was really Important for me to get you know Financial Security but I was fortunate To be in a space in my life where you Know I could really pick the things that I'm genuinely passionate about before I Was at RT I was genuinely passionate About democratizing the art world and When it when I look at a company like Kickstarter I don't think there's a Company that exists out there that has The positive impact and the amount of Lives that we do on a year-to-year basis Or or in the lifespan of the company and To be able to get get up every day and Be able to do something that I actually Felt like I was doing something positive In this in this world it was just too Good to turn to pass up so when you say Democratizing are you referring to Access primarily yeah access education All of those things you know the art World Is a space that is very much run by the Elite it's typically very inaccessible It's also usually very white and so for Me to get into that space and to do Things like I remember when I went to Artsy you know the majority of our top Artists like our top 100 artists was

Majority white men by the time I left Most of those people were women and People of color that were the top Artists that were desired on the Platform and there's a lot of ways to go About that from technology to content to Marketing and brand but to be Intentional in that was really really Important to me in the same cases it was At Kickstarter when I came in there was A lack of diversity in the team there Was also a lack of diversity in the Creators that were being successful in The platform and that's why I'm proud About the progress that we've made this Year that's interesting I I did want to Ask you a question because I know uh Diversity has been you know probably at The top of your list when you came on It's it's one thing to make a more Diverse team obviously you know you're Directly in charge of the hiring how do You go about that on the Creator side Yeah that's a great question Um first of all having a diverse team Also inspires people to be on the Platform I can't tell you the amount of New creators we've had on this on the Platform from people of color to women To people of all different backgrounds That have reached out and said I Launched on Kickstarter because you're There and I see your leadership and you Care about us and you you care about our

Stories you care about the smaller Creators as well as the big creators and So I think having people there that they See people are in the company that Reflect them and reflect their stories And I think that's really important for People voting it on the flip side is Really thinking about from one a product Standpoint it's like when you're Building products are you keeping people In mind that come from all different Walks of life and backgrounds that's Something that a lot of people don't do And that's something that I you know I'm Really proud of the team for building Products and features and we've we've Launched so many great products and Features this year that is leveling the Playing field for all different types of People and not just the elite creators And then on the other side is the Marketing side and that's what I'm what I'm really excited about in year two We've made some really incredible Marketing hires and really getting the Brand out there and getting ourselves in Spaces that we haven't typically been in Like we're about to be One of the big sponsors in activating at Culturecon which is probably the biggest Conference for people of color and Creators of color in New York and you Know being in spaces like that that Kickstarter typically wasn't in is going

To definitely have a great impact I want To get a little granular on that when You talk about features that that Increase diversity like specific what Are some examples So one of the things that for instance What we're working on right now is Something um with Creator education Right so a lot of people when they come On to Kickstarter they don't know what They're doing like you know for a lot of People that haven't had the resources or The the you know the knowledge or people That have done kickstarts before can't Tell them something is simple how to set A goal one of the things that like eats At me is like people not setting Realistic goals for their Kickstarter Like I saw someone that you know only Needed like 15 50 000 for like a Documentary or something short that they Were trying to make but they had a goal Of like 2.5 million I I talked to Somebody about this recently a company That that uh they're actually uh here This week that launched on Kickstarter And they said you know this was our Public goal and this was our internal Goal yes which is that pretty common yes For people that know what they're doing Right people who are working with Agencies people who are in the know or Have the the business savvy to know how To do those things but not everyone has

Access to it like when I was growing up In South Side Richmond I didn't have Access to those types of things and knew How to launch something like a Kickstarter before and so being able to Put those those educational materials in The hands of creators is extremely Important launching things like you know A brand new text editor for people that Aren't as tech savvy knowing how to Create their projects and things like That these things go a long way we're Doing a lot in terms of matchmaking so There's a lot of creators that come onto Our platform that don't have built-in Audiences already that's one of the Hardest parts of Kickstarter is like if You don't have an audience or you don't Have somebody that you can really an Audience that you can tap into it makes It really really harder and so we're Doing a lot to build features and and Matchmaking features for people for if You have a great idea and a great Product I want you to be successful on The platform no matter what your Background may be So we're here on the hardware stage so Ostensibly we're talking about Hardware It's obviously a big part of what you do At Kickstarter looking at the hardware Landscape do you think that Hardware has A diversity problem Does it have a diversity problem I think

It has in a resource problem right like It has a problem of like I think there's A lot of diversity of people that want To do things in the hardware space but The amount of people that actually have The resources to make those things Happen I think is a lot Slimmer and so People need to see that it's possible And I don't think a lot of people of Color and people from diverse Backgrounds have seen it be possible so I think there's people that are Interested in the space But seeing that It's actually possible for them I think There is a lack of diversity of people That feel like they have the opportunity To do so so you you came on during the Pandemic The You the the New York office has actually Since uh closed um kind of kind of okay Yeah okay but there aren't as many People there and um the team as far as I Know is still uh everyone is still able To work remotely if they want to uh did You consider forcing people to come back To the office Trying to get me in trouble and sound Like you want some uh it's my job you Know Um no I'm just messing up with me Um you know when you come into a new Company and like you're like man I see All these people on this Zoom screen and

I don't have I don't get an opportunity To interact with them you you think all Types of ideas uh cross your mind and we Have like the sickest office like no Shade to anybody's office but it's not As flat as kickstarters I promise you Um and so when I when I got to spend Time and I was like man how amazing Would it be to have everybody up in here You know creating ideas Because I didn't get to I didn't get to Experience that Um but ultimately you know I want to do What's best for the people you know we Are a public benefit Corporation you Know you know although we're the biggest In our space we care so much about Impact and doing the right thing for People and our Workforce has been Happier Engagement has gone up being in a remote Environment and so for me if that's what We need to keep our employees happy and In a good in a good mind space and we Still have satellite offices for people That need physical spaces Um but you know I want to make sure that We're people first in our approach I Suspect to a certain extent this is hard For you to gauge because again you Started like like a couple years into The pandemic but what is your sense Broadly of how the pandemic has impacted Crowdfunding

That's a really interesting question I Think from the Fulfillment side I think A lot of people ran into a lot of Hurdles especially with shipping and Unexpected costs and and the the rise And prices of certain things that Especially in the hardware right Um that people weren't expecting the Cost of materials et cetera et cetera I Think that genuinely impacted the Fulfillment for a lot of different Projects unfortunately I think also Um the there was like a boom in Crowdfunding during the pandemic as well As people are looking for like Alternatives and that boom has sustained As the world around us is like Completely on tilt whether it's the the Music industry or the film industry the Automobile industry like things around Us are completely changing and so it was Great to see that momentum sustained Where I think a lot of companies had This momentum during the pandemic where They saw things Spike where as Kickstarter we've been able to keep up Some of that momentum just because the World is becoming you know more about The Creator economy I think it's crazy That no one talks about Kickstarter in The Creator economy but there's I don't Think there's any company if you look at Patreon or any other company that is Really impacting uh creators in the way

That Kickstarter is in the Creator Economy and I think now with the world And the way that it's changed I mean you Know I'm sure there's somebody in this Audience that's been affected by layoffs Like there's it's like we have to go Into survival mode and I think Kickstarter is giving people an Opportunity that's like yo I'm not going To depend on this tech company to from My employment I'm not going to depend on This or this record label I'm not gonna You know rely on this VC funding we saw You all funding black people and then Y'all pull back so we got more Alternatives now and Kickstarter is one Of those and so I think the landscape of The world has has really helped continue The momentum there yeah I suspect a big Part of the reason why people don't Frame Kickstarter that way is because They they tend to think of it as this Place where where you raise money and Then you raise money and then go off and And do your thing yeah and maybe you do Another product and you raise money Later uh what can Kickstarter do for People in between those things yeah I Mean First you can't lack imagination you Know like Um and I think for people to understand That you know Kickstarter is an idea It's very abstract and it doesn't matter

If you're a super successful filmmaker Or you're not you or you know we've had Companies that you know who've gone Public or you know worth billions of Dollars launch new products on the Platform we've had people that don't Have any money and are launching things Out of their garage right and so Kickstarter has to be seen as a place Where people love new ideas and New Creation it doesn't matter where you are In the life cycle of where you are in Your life or your company or your brand That Kickstarter is a platform for that People have built real audiences Um on the platform that they continue to Tap back into and so to me it's like I Think a lot of people try to put a Ceiling on Kickstarter and they don't Have to Your predecessor receives some feedback For his decision to not voluntarily Recognize the union yeah what now that There is a Kickstarter Union and now That you're the boss what is your Relationship those are the homies man You know Um I was actually I had a call with one Of our Union stores today Um it's just people man like people try To make unions as like the big bad wolf These are just these are my colleagues These are my friends these are people That just want to be treated with

Respect you know we've seen what's Happened in the tech industry this year In in the past year and how people have Lost their jobs lost their livelihood Things like that people in the union Just want protection to not have Terrible things happen to them and just Have basic rights as employees from Their employer and so to me There isn't there isn't any issues we've Had a really peaceful year and Um you know we've had such a productive Year like from a product product Standpoint we've released more features Already this year than we did all of Last year Um and so we're productive people are Engaged people are in a good place and Like yes it's good there haven't been Any places where you don't quite see eye To eye with the Union I don't think there's any places that we Don't see quite eye to eye with the Union at all to be honest like the Everyone's very Mission aligned everyone Wants the same things and I think both Sides just want each side to be treated Well and I think we're in agreement with That yeah you you sort of alluded to uh To layoffs and you know before you came On there were some layups to Kickstarter Yeah I will there be any more in the Foreseeable future or do you feel like You're in a pretty solid footing that's

A hell no we can quote that Um no there there's hell no to layoffs Not hell no to solid footing uh oh we're A solid footing yeah hell no it's it Hell no it's Hillary this is what you Don't want to clarify yeah for sure for Sure Um no we're not going to do any layoffs Anytime soon Kickstarter is in the Really really solid solid place Um for you guys who know kickstarter's History Kickstarter has been profitable Since year two you know and so that Wasn't the cause for the layoffs it was Just the unpredictable nature of the Pandemic like you know with everything The world literally slow old and shut Down and I think it's always interesting When like people like really zoom in on Kickstarter and like the layoffs that it Had in 2020 and I'm like yo these tech Companies have had hella layoffs round And round and round every year 70 000. Yeah yeah it's insane so to us it was Like one small layoff in 2020 and we Haven't had that since and you know we We've been growing and progressing since Then and that's why I'm here because I Want to give more news stories I want New things to talk about new creators You know like Andre over here at revolve Who's doing incredible things with his Wheelchair like we have so many Incredible new stories to share and

Positive stories to share that that's What I want in a news cycle now we have A bunch of creators up front here oh Yeah I know I remember looking at it Yeah earlier were you on Kickstarter One year ago what's the company name Dope man Cool man 12 years my bills 12 years oh wow wow Through crowdfunding that's great I love It Um so so I mean you want to tell the Sort of the good news story is Kickstarter hiring currently yeah Kickstarter is hiring which or I mean We've we've increased I don't know what The percentage of employees this year But we're hiring we're hiring new roles Especially on the second product side Um I'm really excited for 2024 and 2025 And the road map that we have and the Things that we're coming with and like Really focusing on you know two two Major things is like really end-to-end Creator support like really helping Creators throughout the life cycle of Their creator Journey like currently you Know Kickstarter is really like hey you Go and you raise money and then like all Right good luck or you know there's an Ideation and there's a whole side I was Talking to the Creator earlier who's Like I started this in 2015 and they're Just launching it and you know in 2023

So there's a whole process that goes Along with that and so I want to support That more then also on the backer side It's like let's continue to build Audiences on the platform ready-made Audiences for our creators as well so on The Community Front what what's the Status of the blockchain project is that Is that gone it's it's not gone it's Just in a discovery phase it's very Separate from the Core Company it's this Is a whole other entity so people think That Kickstarter is on the blockchain Kickstarter is not on the blockchain There's no plans for us to be on the Blockchain like this is a completely Separate entity that is exploring how Blockchain technology can be potentially Helpful to crowdfunding but we haven't Touched blockchain ourselves Again obviously this this predates you But you know there was a big pushback Online were there any Were there any big Lessons Learned From That experience Uh talk to your users talk to talk to Your users you might want to get some Feedback before making such a big you Know big move in that and I think that's Another problem when things come top Down right like when when decisions are Made top down and Um you know you're not talking to your Users and like you don't have alignment

Then sometimes decisions like that are Are being made and how it was rolled out Wasn't the right way and so you know we I've tried to do my best to remedy that In our first interview you know I really Had a very Firm Stance in in that stance Has continued yeah I don't want to make Your inbox any any more crowded than it Is right now I'm sure that yours is even Worse than mine but you know I talk to a Lot of people launching on Kickstarter a Lot of them are excited you know that You're on there's a there's a new leader There's a new Direction How can they reach out to you At kickstarter.com okay yes very simple Yeah uh something that we also getting Back to that other interview that we Talked about that I'm sure you get all The time but is an important question A lot of people have this history of Backing something The you know they they sign up for a Certain level they sign up for the Product the product doesn't come you and I both know it you know it's not a Shopping site it's not a pre-order site But that's going to sour you yeah to Kickstarter going forward how do you Bring them back Oh man I got something planned Um so first and foremost like I want to Apologize if you've ever you know Supported a Kickstarter by the way like

The the fact that like only 10 I I think It's actually less than 10 of Kickstarters actually do not fulfill so Think about that these are like the Craziest yeah newest ideas and over 90 Of them actually happen and come to Fruition right but the one thing I've Learned is like it's kind of like the Yelp rule like you can go somewhere and Like everyone has all these great Experience and then you have that one Great experience of that one bad Experience and then you want to write a Write a bad review and so that's kind of The problem that Kickstarter has is that Yes the loudest people are the people That don't get what they what they Wanted but at the end of the day we're Not a Marketplace we're not an E-commerce site like you're in your your Supporting people's dreams you're Supporting things that you're interested In but it says very explicitly like this Is not you know know this is not an E-commerce platform so there is risk in Any time that you support a Kickstarter But with that being said I do not think Kickstarter has done a great job of Holding people accountable because you Know in the very very rare case where There's actual fraud then but Kickstarter hasn't taken that next step To hold those people accountable and Trust me I'm about to lay down the law

Man we got some stuff coming on the Legal side and on the product side as Well on the trust and safety side which I'm really really excited about and then The stuff that really excites me is on The product side being able to predict Fulfillment risks to be able to do Things to help creators who are running Into issues more like we can do so so Much more and I will say this for the Creators that don't fulfill most of the Time it's just they ran into something That they could have never predicted you Know this is their first time doing Something it's not nefarious or fraud But there is you you know very very Small percentage of people who are doing Nefarious things so that's super Interesting how do you calculate the Risk rate or the I guess the the odds of Delivery yeah I think there's like I Think there's science right I think There are signs Um that we can tap into where you know We've been doing this for a long time It's about to be 15 years and from what I've spoken to from my product and Engineering teams there are different Signs that you can see where there's Okay this is this is starting to become A little bit more risky and I want to be Able to inform our backers about that Ahead of time and be able to do more to Support the creators and say hey look if

You're running into issues like let us Help you let us support you Um in the in your endeavors and so not Run away so if you're a Creator here and You're running into an issue don't Ghosts backers like do you know Communicate and communicate with us we Just want to help yeah so there's a Certain level of vetting that happens on The top obviously not everybody who Applies uh gets into Kickstarter and and It sounds like you're talking about Continuing to monitor that throughout The process yes yes not just from the Top but throughout the entire Journey But also giving people the resources to Actually be successful a lot of these People has have never done this Before like think about that like this I Think doing a Kickstarter is one of the Scariest things like you're really Putting yourself out there You have a dream you have an aspiration You're trying to make it come true and You might not have ever done anything Like before you never may have worked With manufacturers out in China or Whatever that may be and so I think for A lot of times it's the first time and That's why you know when you work with You know some of these pre-launch Services like launch boom and Etc et Cetera it's really helpful for these Creators because they may not have that

Experience What are your thoughts on equity Crowdfunding We don't do it we don't do it I mean Look that's not our Hustle Man yeah you Know that's not our space But like I Think get it how you live you know That's what we say where I'm from like Whatever you got to do to make your Dream come true if you want to do you Know Equity crowdfunding like more power To you I just know on Kickstarter we're Not taking a percentage of no one's Taking a percentage of your company I Would rather crowdfund and keep a Hundred percent of my company than Crowdfund and then lose a piece of my Company when you and I talked to earlier We talked a little bit about Indiegogo And I think you said one of the things That you thought they've done really Well is address the Chinese market yeah Um from an international perspective What does the future look like for Kickstarter oh yeah I mean we're going To invest more into the international Market there's also still a ton of Markets that we're not in like whenever I see my African friends they're like Yo Dude you know so uh we definitely want To expand but it takes time you know These things take time and we want to Make sure that we enter into new markets And things like that and you know at the

End of the day like yeah there's markets Like China that are super important There's other markets that are super Important like India which we're not in Yeah extremely important but that's a Very complicated country to go into as Well so we want to make sure that we're Doing it right and so all those things Are things that I want to do um and I Think it's really important to really Scale our impact and help people from All around the world but it's going to Be in a piecemeal way I'm afraid to say That we're out of time now but Everett This is great thanks so much thank you Man appreciate it thank you appreciate Y'all thank you Thank you

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