LAUNCHPAD: Kickstarter passes $1bn in pledges

The crowdfunding site is patting itself on the back, but doesn't mention projects that get delayed or fail to actually materialise.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 08 Jul 2014

- Read MT's investigation into crowdfunding: is it crazy money?

Kickstarter is celebrating a pretty hefty milestone today, after pledges passed the $1bn (£598m) mark. ‘OMG’, the crowdfunding site declared on a specially created page filled with pretty infographics.

At first glance the numbers do look pretty OMG. The $1bn has come from more than 5.7 million people in 224 different countries, and over half was pledged in the last 12 months (we’re also helpfully told that $1bn would buy you 44,555 Robocop statuettes. Er – cool?).

Pledges by country

However, potential investors shouldn’t necessarily follow the crowd. $117m of pledges went toward projects that didn’t meet their fundraising target (and $24m is for ideas that are still in the midst of funding). More than 74,000 projects didn’t meet their funding goal, 56% of the total, and 10% got zero pledges. Aah.

Kickstarter’s stats also conveniently neglect to mention projects that meet their funding target but get delayed or never even materialise. The Pebble smartwatch is the crowdfunding site’s most-funded project to date, garnering $10.3m back in 2012, but was only launched in January this year after numerous delays (in the meantime Samsung had announced its Galaxy Gear smartwatch). Tech blog Evil as a Hobby has found that only 37% of games funded on Kickstarter between 2009 and 2012 were delivered in full.

The growth in pledges on the site also looks to have slowed recently (see table below), so it could be that crowdfunding has lost some of its novelty. Moreover, Ed Wray, director of UK crowdfunder Funding Circle, told MT last week that it is unlikely the phenomenon will do away with bank financing (although we’d add that it works as a nice complement).

Amount of pledges, monthly basis

In many ways, these figures simply reflect standard start-up figures – which suggests that even if your backers are a well-meaning rabble rather than a well-oiled machine, business is still a dog-eat-dog world.

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