Kickstarter Gives a Middle Finger to Retailers

Kickstarter is the juggernaut crowdfunding site that allows creative types to make a run around and go directly to consumers to make their projects a reality. Increasingly popular, pledge options were being geared towards retailers as well, offering bulk discounts as well as other deals. Well Kickstarter has brought down the banhammer on that, forcing projects, some already running when the policy went into place, to remove that pledge status.

The first project that this seems to be an issue is for Playroom Entertainment’s Killer Bunnies Quest Deluxe, a project that started it’s fundraising effort about a week ago. Shortly after launching its Kickstarter, Playroom removed the retailer reward, saying:

Playroom loves our retailers and we know that the success of Killer Bunnies wouldn’t be possible without them.  Unfortunately, we were forced to remove the Retailer Level by Kickstarter (at approx. 9 a.m. on 7/26) because it violates their newly implemented rule of not allowing “discounted bulk pricing” at a wholesale level for retailers.  We are very upset about this, but we have to play by the rules.  If you are upset too, please take it up directly with Kickstarter.

Talking to ICv2, Playroom president Dan Rowen said:

We got a message in our Kickstarter Message Inbox stating that were reported as having bulk prices… We inquired further because we weren’t sure what ‘bulk’ actually meant. Did that mean that no price breaks were allowed for buying multiple copies?  Almost every Kickstarter has that.  Their response was, ‘You’ll find on our guidelines that we prohibit bulk rewards as well as rewards geared towards retailers in general.’

We didn’t find any mention of rewards geared toward retailers in Kickstarter’s Guidelines (although we may have missed it), but we did find a prohibition of “rewards in bulk quantities.

That makes Kickstarter a direct to consumer funding site, potentially cutting out a large revenue stream for the growing website. They do list “rewards in bulk quantities” as something you can’t do, so maybe that’s it and this isn’t specifically targeted at retailers.

As a whole the entire Kickstarter website is in question with ever more questionable projects being set up. One well known website offered nothing other than removing ads from their site if their goal was reached.  How that qualifies for the below is beyond me.

A project has a clear goal, like making an album, a book, or a work of art. A project will eventually be completed, and something will be produced by it. A project is not open-ended. Starting a business, for example, does not qualify as a project.

Instead, I expect these same offers to be done in other ways, circumventing the platform entirely and thus their losing some potentially sizable income.

As a whole, while I’m still bullish on crowdfunding as a whole, especially in it’s ability to disrupt the status-quo when it comes to creating products, I’m starting to see Kickstarter as another tech bubble waiting for a few high profile disasters before it collapses.