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Kickstarter, Inc.
Headquarters New York City, New York State, U.S.
Website .com.kickstarterwww
Alexa rank Increase 510 (November 2014)[1]
Type of site Crowd funding
Launched 28 April 2009

Kickstarter is a global crowdfunding platform based in the United States.[2] The company’s stated mission is to help bring creative projects to life.[3] Kickstarter has reportedly received over $1 billion in pledges from 5.7 million donors to fund 135,000 projects, which include films, music, stage shows, comics, journalism, video games, and food-related projects.[4]

People who back Kickstarter projects are offered tangible rewards and special experiences in exchange for their pledges.[5] This model traces its roots to subscription model of arts patronage, where artists would go directly to their audiences to fund their work.[6]


  • History 1
  • Model 2
    • Projects 2.1
    • Categories 2.2
    • Guidelines 2.3
  • Notable projects and creators 3
    • Top projects by funds raised 3.1
    • Project cancellations 3.2
  • Controversies 4
  • Patent disputes 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Kickstarter launched on April 28, 2009, by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler.[7] The New York Times called Kickstarter "the people's NEA".[8] Time named it one of the "Best Inventions of 2010"[9] and "Best Websites of 2011".[10] Kickstarter reportedly raised $10 million funding from backers including NYC-based venture firm Union Square Ventures and angel investors such as Jack Dorsey, Zach Klein and Caterina Fake.[11] The company is based in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.[12]

Andy Baio served as the site's CTO until November 2010, when he joined Expert Labs.[13] Lance Ivy has been Lead Developer since the website launched.[14] On February 14, 2013, Kickstarter released an iOS app called Kickstarter for the iPhone.[15] The app is aimed at users who create and back projects and is the first time Kickstarter has had an official mobile presence.[16]

On October 31, 2012, Kickstarter opened to projects based in the United Kingdom.[17]

On September 9, 2013, Kickstarter opened to projects based in Canada.[18]

On November 13, 2013, Kickstarter opened to projects based in Australia and New Zealand.[19]

On September 15, 2014 Kickstarter opened to projects based in Norway.


Kickstarter is one of a number of crowdfunding platforms for gathering money from the public, which circumvents traditional avenues of investment.[20][21] Project creators choose a deadline and a minimum funding goal. If the goal is not met by the deadline, no funds are collected, a kind of assurance contract.[22] Money pledged by donors is collected using Amazon Payments.[23] The platform is open to backers from anywhere in the world and to creators from the US, UK,[24] Canada,[25] Australia and New Zealand.[19]

Kickstarter takes 5% of the funds raised.[26] Amazon charges an additional 3–5%.[27] Unlike many forums for fundraising or investment, Kickstarter claims no ownership over the projects and the work they produce. The web pages of projects launched on the site are permanently archived and accessible to the public. After funding is completed, projects and uploaded media cannot be edited or removed from the site.[28]

There is no guarantee that people that post projects on Kickstarter will deliver on their projects, use the money to implement their projects, or that the completed projects will meet backers' expectations. Kickstarter advises backers to use their own judgment on supporting a project. They also warn project leaders that they could be liable for legal damages from backers for failure to deliver on promises.[29] Projects might also fail even after a successful fund raise when creators underestimate the total costs required or technical difficulties to be overcome.[30][31]


On June 21, 2012, Kickstarter began publishing statistics on its projects.[32] As of July 24, 2013, there were 107,645 launched projects (3,990 in progress), with a success rate of 43.99%. The total number of dollars pledged was $717 million.[33]

The business has grown quickly in its early years. In the year 2010, Kickstarter had 3,910 successful projects and $27,638,318 pledged. The corresponding figures for 2011 were 11,836 successfully funded projects and $99,344,381 pledged; and there were 18,109 successfully funded projects, $319,786,629 pledged in 2012.[34][35]

February 9, 2012, saw a number of milestones set by Kickstarter. A dock made for the iPhone designed by Casey Hopkins became the first Kickstarter project to break a million dollars pledged. A few hours later, a project by computer game developers Double Fine Productions to fund a new adventure game reached the same figure, having been launched less than 24 hours earlier, and finished with over $3 million pledged.[36] This was also the first time Kickstarter raised over a million dollars in pledges in a single day.[37] On August 30, 2014, the "Coolest Cooler", an icebox created by Ryan Grepper, became the most funded Kickstarter project in history, with US$13.28 million in funding-breaking the record previously held by the Pebble smartwatch, also a Kickstarter project.[38]

In July 2012, Wharton professor Ethan Mollick and Jeanne Pi conducted research into what contributes to a project’s success or failure on Kickstarter. Some key findings from the analysis were that increasing goal size is negatively associated with success, projects that are featured on the Kickstarter homepage have an 89% chance of being successful, compared to 30% without, and that for an average $10,000 project, a 30-day project has a 35% chance of success, while a 60-day project has a 29% chance of success, all other things being constant.[39]

The ten largest Kickstarter projects by funds raised are listed below. Among successful projects, most raise between $1,000 and $9,999. These dollar amounts drop to less than half in the Design, Games, and Technology categories. However, the median amount raised for the latter two categories remains in the four-figure range. There is substantial variation in the success rate of projects falling under different categories. Over two thirds of completed dance projects have been successful. In contrast, fewer than 30% of completed fashion projects have reached their goal. Most failing projects fail to achieve 20% of their goals and this trend applies across all categories. Indeed over 80% of projects that pass the 20% mark reach their goal.[33]


Creators categorize their projects into one of 13 categories and 36 subcategories.[40] They are: Art, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film and Video, Food, Games, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology and Theater. Of these categories, Film & Video and Music are the largest categories and have raised the most amount of money. These categories, along with Games, account for over half the money raised.[33] Video games and tabletop games alone account for more than $2 out of every $10 spent on Kickstarter.[41]


To maintain its focus as a funding platform for creative projects, Kickstarter has outlined three guidelines for all project creators to follow: creators can fund projects only; projects must fit within one of the site's 13 creative categories; and creators must abide by the site's prohibited uses (including charity and awareness campaigns). Kickstarter has additional requirements for hardware and product design projects. These include[42][43]

  • Banning the use of photorealistic renderings and simulations demonstrating a product
  • Banning projects for [44]
  • Limiting awards to single items or a "sensible set" of items relevant to the project (e.g., multiple light bulbs for a house)
  • Requiring a physical prototype
  • Requiring a manufacturing plan

The guidelines are designed to reinforce Kickstarter’s position that people are backing projects, not placing orders for a product. To underscore the notion that Kickstarter is a place in which creators and audiences make things together, creators across all categories are asked to describe the risks and challenges a project faces in producing it. This educates the public about the project goals and encourages contributions to the community.[45]

Notable projects and creators

At $8.5 million, the Ouya is the 3rd largest successful Kickstarter campaign.

Several creative works have gone on to receive critical acclaim and accolades after being funded on Kickstarter. The documentary short "Sun Come Up" and documentary short "Incident in New Baghdad" were each nominated for an Academy Award;[46][47] contemporary art projects "EyeWriter" and "Hip-Hop Word Count" were both chosen to exhibit in the Museum of Modern Art in 2011;[48] filmmaker Matt Porterfield was selected to screen his film Putty Hill at the Whitney Biennial In 2012;[49] author Rob Walker's Hypothetical Futures project exhibited at the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale;[50] musician Amanda Palmer's album "Theatre is Evil" debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard 200;[51] designer Scott Wilson won a National Design Award from Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum following the success of his TikTok + LunaTik project;[52] the Kickstarter funded GoldieBlox toy gained nationwide distribution in 2013;[53] and approximately 10% of the films accepted into the Sundance, SXSW and Tribeca Film Festivals are projects funded on Kickstarter.[54][55]

Numerous well-known creators have used Kickstarter to produce their work, including: musicians Amanda Palmer,[56] Daniel Johnston,[57] Stuart Murdoch[58] and Tom Rush;[59] filmmakers and actors Bret Easton Ellis,[60] Colin Hanks,[61] Ed Begley, Jr.,[62] Gary Hustwit,[63] Hal Hartley,[64] Jennie Livingston,[65] Mark Duplass,[66] Matthew Modine,[67] Paul Schrader,[68] Ricki Lake,[69] Whoopi Goldberg,[70] Kristen Bell and Zana Briski; authors and writers Dan Harmon,[71] Kevin Kelly,[72] Neal Stephenson,[73] and Seth Godin;[74] photographers Spencer Tunick,[75] Shane Lavalette,[76] and Gerd Ludwig;[77] game developers Tim Schafer,[78] Keiji Inafune, Brian Fargo,[79] and Rand Miller;[80] designer Stefan Sagmeister;[81] animator John Kricfalusi; Star Trek actor John de Lancie; comedian Eugene Mirman;[82] and custom guitar maker Moniker.[83]

The synthetic biology projects.[44]

Top projects by funds raised

Ten largest successfully completed Kickstarter projects by total funds pledged (only closed fundings are listed)[84]
Rank Total USD Project name Creator Category % funded Backers Closing date
1 13,285,226 COOLEST COOLER: 21st Century Cooler that's Actually Cooler[85] Ryan Grepper Product design 26,570 62,642 2014-08-30
2 10,266,845 Pebble: E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android Pebble Technology Design 10,266 68,929 2012-05-18
3 8,596,474 OUYA: A New Kind of Video Game Console Ouya Inc. Video games 904 63,416 2012-08-09
4 6,225,354 Pono Music - Where Your Soul Rediscovers Music PonoMusic Team Technology 778 18,219 2014-04-15
5 5,702,153 Veronica Mars movie[86] Rob Thomas[87] Film & video 285 91,585 2013-04-12
6 5,408,916 Reading Rainbow[88] LeVar Burton/Reading Rainbow Web 541 105,857 2014-07-02
7 4,188,927 Torment: Tides of Numenera InXile Entertainment Video games 465 74,405 2013-04-05
8 3,986,929 Project Eternity Obsidian Entertainment Video games 362 73,986 2012-10-16
9 3,845,170 Mighty No. 9[89] Comcept and Inti Creates Video games 427 67,226 2013-10-01
10 3,429,235 Reaper Miniatures Bones: An Evolution Of Gaming Miniatures[90] Reaper Miniatures Board games 11,430 17,744 2012-08-25

Project cancellations

Both Kickstarter and project creators have canceled projects that appeared to have been fraudulent. Questions were raised about the projects in internet communities related to the fields of the projects. The concerns raised were: apparent copying of graphics from other sources; unrealistic performance or price claims; and failure of project sponsors to deliver on prior Kickstarter projects.

A small list of canceled projects include:

  • Eye3 camera drone helicopter for unrealistic performance promises, photos copied from other commercial products, and failure of creators to deliver on an earlier Kickstarter project.[91]
  • Mythic: The Story of Gods and Men adventure game for copying graphics from other games and unrealistic performance promises; the creator had raised $4,739 on an $80,000 goal before canceling the project.[92]
  • Tech-Sync Power System for failing to provide photos of the prototype and sudden departure of project creator.[93]
  • Tentacle Bento, a card game intended to satirize Japanese school girl tentacle rape comics, after being criticized in the online media for having inappropriate content.[94]
  • Kobe Red, a project for beef jerky made from Kobe beef, was canceled after raising $120,309. The project was allegedly fraudulent.[95]
  • iFind claimed to be a Battery-Free item locating tag. Critics of the project raised serious doubts about its viability, focussing on its claimed EM harvesting capability and the lack of a working prototype. Kickstarter suspended funding after $546,852 had been raised.[96]

In addition, over 15 projects have been completely removed in lieu of public cancellation.[97] Kickstarter appears to reserve project removal for egregious claims of copyright or other severe breaches of policy.[98][99]


  • In May 2011, a New York University film student, Matias Shimada, raised $1,726 to make a film, but plagiarized another film instead. Later, he publicly apologized.[100][101]
  • In 2012, Amanda Palmer raised $1.2 million on Kickstarter. She wrote about how she used the money, however several other musicians reviewed these expenses and said they were extravagant and possibly fraudulent. She was further criticized for attempting to have musicians play with her for free on tour, after raising such a large sum.[102]
  • In April 2013, filmmaker Zach Braff used a Kickstarter campaign to fund his upcoming film Wish I Was Here and raised $2 million in three days, citing the success of Rob Thomas' Veronica Mars Kickstarter as his inspiration. Some have criticized Braff for using the site, saying celebrity use of the site will draw attention away from filmmakers and other creatives who don't have celebrity name recognition,[103] a criticism that had been previously made in regards to big figures in the gaming industry using Kickstarter (such as Richard Garriott, who created a successful $1+ million Kickstarter despite his large personal fortune).[104] Kickstarter has disputed these arguments by reporting that, according to their metrics, big name projects tend to attract new visitors to the site who in turn pledge to other lesser known projects.[105][106]
  • In 2013, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) had given Kickstarter an "F" rating (its lowest) for, among other things, failing to respond to six complaints filed against it.[107] However, by 2014 its BBB rating had improved to "A-".[108]
  • On November 6, 2013, writer/director Hal Hartley launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce his upcoming film Ned Rifle, seeking a total of $384,000.[109] On November 25, Hartley added a $9,000 reward tier offering the film's distribution rights for seven years in the United States and other countries, making his Kickstarter campaign the first to propose offering film distribution rights.[110] Subsequently, Kickstarter notified Hartley that selling distribution rights is a form of investment, which is forbidden by Kickstarter's terms and conditions, forcing Hartley to remove the option.[111]

Patent disputes

  • On September 30, 2011, Kickstarter filed a request for declaratory judgment against ArtistShare’s U.S. crowd-funding[112] patent US 7885887 , "Methods and apparatuses for financing and marketing a creative work". Kickstarter asked that the patent be invalidated, or, at the very least, that the court find that Kickstarter is not liable for infringement.[113] In February 2012, ArtistShare and Fan Funded responded to Kickstarter's complaint by filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. They asserted that patent infringement litigation was never threatened, that "ArtistShare merely approached Kickstarter about licensing their platform, including patent rights", and that "rather than responding to ArtistShare's request for a counter-proposal, Kickstarter filed this lawsuit."[114] The judge has ruled, however, that the case can go forward. ArtistShare has since responded by filing a counterclaim alleging that Kickstarter is indeed infringing its patent.[115]
  • On November 21, 2012, 3D Systems filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Formlabs and Kickstarter for infringing its 3D printer patent US 5,597,520 , ”Simultaneous multiple layer curing in stereolithography.” Formlabs had raised $2.9 million in a Kickstarter campaign to fund its own competitive printer.[116] The company said that Kickstarter caused "irreparable injury and damage" to its business by promoting the Form 1 printer, and taking a 5% cut of pledged funds.[117]

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External links

  • Official website
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