By taking the professional-to-client approach for what should be a merchant-to-customer context, Mr. Chimero has abdicated ownership of his idea/genius and the results that will come of it. Having bought and paid for it, the collective investors now own his genius in this project. By selling out first before he created the product he promises, he’s now working for the investors instead of working for himself.
Read the whole thing.
Rutledge’s argument is that, because supporters have invested in the project, rather than Chimero completing the book and then selling it to them (which they would have bought based on what it is), the investors now own his work. It is no longer his work—it is theirs, since they bought it—and thus, they have every right to direct it.
Rutledge’s critique, if considered generally, is spot-on, and is especially apt in application to venture capital-funded companies.
But his criticism is misplaced in this case. I’ve supported two projects on Kickstarter. The first project I supported was Pancake Breakfast’s first record, and the second was the Glif.
These were two very different projects. I had little idea what Pancake Breakfast’s record would sound like, or whether I would even like it. I supported them because, (1) I listened to a few live songs of theirs on YouTube and I enjoyed it and (2) they seemed like a great group of people. That’s not a lot to go on.
I supported the Glif project for very different reasons; I supported it because I saw the product, I saw precisely what it did, and I knew it would be useful for me. In effect, I wasn’t so much “supporting” them as pre-ordering it.
In both of these cases, however, the creators retained full creative control. I had no say in how Pancake Breakfast arranged their instrumentals or what manufacturing process the Glif team used. This wasn’t because they shirked a duty of theirs, though; this was because I wasn’t supporting them to receive some say over what they did, but because I wanted to support them in creating what they wanted to make.
That’s how Kickstarter works. I support very few projects, but the ones I choose to support are because I am interested in what they want to build and I want them to do so. I don’t want control; I just want to see them complete it and receive the finished product. That’s how supporting others should work: you only support projects and people you believe in enough to trust them to make something fantastic.