Oct 21 2019
We’ve been listening to creator feedback on ways to make it easier to plan, build, and launch projects. Over the past few months, we’ve rolled out some changes to the project editor and dashboard that we hope will do just that. Here’s what’s new:
Fresh look and easier navigation: We’ve freshened up the look of the project editor and made it easier to navigate between sections and find what you’re looking for. Use the bar at the top to switch to Rewards, Story, and so on.
Promoting your project: We added a Promotion section under “Prepare for Launch” and in the navigation bar that you can access once your project is submitted for approval. In this section, you can generate your final project URL and activate a pre-launch page. Read on for details...
Project URL: After your project is submitted for approval, you can generate the final web address of your project. You can use this URL to plan and prepare project promotion. Note that this URL will not actually work until you activate your pre-launch page (see below) or your project goes live.
Pre-launch page: Once your project is approved, you can activate a pre-launch page that includes your project title, subtitle, and image. There’s also a button that lets potential backers ask to be notified when the project goes live. This page has the same web address as your project, so you can start spreading the word before you launch.
Follower count: Before your project launches, you can see a count of people who are following your project pre-launch and will receive an email or push notification when it goes live.
Fulfillment dashboard with shipping costs: We’ve introduced new tools to help you plan and manage the fulfillment process. You can view a summary of what you raised, inventory counts for reward items, and detailed shipping insights, making it easier to visualize your overall progress with fulfillment. We recognize how hard it can be to plan for shipping costs, so we’ve added several new visualizations and breakdowns just for shipping. We’re still refining this feature and we’d appreciate your feedback through the survey on the dashboard.
Oct 9 2019
I am very pleased to announce that the author and entrepreneur Casey Gerald has been appointed to Kickstarter PBC’s board of directors.
Casey is the author of There Will Be No Miracles Here, a memoir and coming-of-age story that, as Casey puts it, “stands the American dream on its head.” It was named one of the best books of 2018 by NPR and The New York Times. Casey is a two-time TED speaker and was named by Fast Company as one of the “Most Creative People in Business.” He also recently wrote “The Black Art of Escape” for New York magazine, reflecting on the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans’ arrival in Virginia.
A native of Texas, Casey graduated from Yale College and Harvard Business School, where he co-founded MBAs Across America, a movement of MBAs and entrepreneurs working to reinvent business school and revitalize the country.
Casey’s breadth of experience across social impact, business operations, and nonprofit work — all while staying true to himself and his story — is a perfect fit for the mission-driven work we do here at Kickstarter. Casey’s career has been dedicated to finding unconventional approaches to the conventional ways of doing business, and his unique perspective will be a great benefit to our strategy and operations as a company.
Here’s how Casey explains his interest in accepting the board’s invitation:
We’re living through a dark period right now — a period of runaway capitalism and rising authoritarianism — in America and around the world. So, I believe, as I have throughout my career, that we need more models of businesses and business leaders that are a force for good, that are committed not to corporate profits but to human flourishing. I think Kickstarter is the best hope of my generation to prove that this is possible.
As President John F. Kennedy said in 1963, the artist is “the last champion of the individual mind…against an intrusive society and an officious state.” If this is true — and as a writer, I believe it is — then Kickstarter’s mission is more important now than at any point in its ten-year history. I’m thrilled and grateful to be able to roll up my sleeves and support.
In addition to Casey and myself, our board members are Perry Chen, Kickstarter founder and board chair; Jess Search, CEO of Doc Society; Michael Lynton, chairman of Snap Inc. and former CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment; Sunny Bates, CEO of Sunny Bates Associates; and Fred Wilson, managing partner at Union Square Ventures.
I look forward to working with Casey as we continue to seek unconventional paths in pursuit of our mission: helping to bring creative projects to life.
Sep 27 2019
To our community of creators and backers:
The many questions and concerns we’ve heard from you lately are a testament to how much you care about Kickstarter, the people who work here, and the importance of creative work in the world. In response, I felt it was best to talk directly about recent events and issues.
It’s important for you to know, and to hear straight from me, that we haven’t fired anyone for union organizing. We respect our staff’s right to decide for themselves if they want a union at Kickstarter, and we are giving them the space they need to make that decision.
This month, we made the difficult decision to part ways with two members of our team. This is particularly tough at a small company like ours where most of us work closely and collaboratively at our Brooklyn headquarters. Both of these employees were members of the organizing committee, as are other current staff members. This had nothing to do with their terminations. We understood how these firings could be perceived, but it would be unfair to not hold these two employees to the same standards as the rest of our staff.
We know that we are asking you to take us at our word. Some have asked us to provide proof that these firings were not related to organizing. For privacy reasons, we don’t think it’s right for us to publicly share that information. We will, however, respond to the charges filed with the NLRB by providing clear documentation, which stretches back before March, when the organizing effort became public.
It is our responsibility to ensure that our staff can make their own decision on unionization in a fair, legal, and informed way, while we continue to run the business to the best of our ability. Every decision we have made has been with this key principle in mind.
Our staff has been divided on whether a union is right for them. And early on we had to step in when we learned that managers were involved in the organizing effort, in violation of labor rules. For those reasons, we’ve been clear that a secret-ballot election, conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, is the only way forward that respects the rights of every member of our staff, and gives everyone a voice. We’ve said that if we are asked to voluntarily recognize the union, we’ll decline, and advocate for an election to protect the integrity of the process.
We have shared our perspective, in a staff meeting and follow-up Q&A session, that we don't think a union is the best tool to fix the issues we face at Kickstarter. We believe it’s important for employees to hear that perspective, so they can make an informed decision. We've limited our statements so we don't unduly influence or pressure the staff. Our perspective on this issue is born out of our work to build a new model for how a company can operate responsibly in society.
Kickstarter became a public benefit corporation in 2015. We took this unusual step to ensure that, for as long as it exists, Kickstarter will continue to serve its mission, not just its shareholders. When we make decisions, we are legally obligated to think about all of the other stakeholders involved, including our staff, the wider world of artists and creators, and society as a whole.
The PBC model is the best one we know of for breaking out of the profit-maximization mindset. We’re still actively building this new structure, and working to prove that it’s not only viable, but a new path forward. We want to do this all together, as one team.
The union framework is inherently adversarial. That dynamic doesn’t reflect who we are as a company, how we interact, how we make decisions, or where we need to go. We believe that in many ways it would set us back, and that the us vs. them binary already has.
But again, the choice belongs to the staff. So where do things go from here? As the internal discussion continues, I want to make these commitments to you:
- If an election is called, we will do everything we can to ensure that it is carried out in a fair and fully democratic way.
- In the runup to the vote, we will be transparent with staff and share our perspective on the issue, doing our part to create an atmosphere of respect and dialogue.
- Any meetings about this will be voluntary. If a majority of the staff in an appropriate bargaining unit votes in favor of a union in an NLRB election, we will fully respect that choice and negotiate in good faith toward a collective bargaining agreement.
I understand that some of you may not be satisfied with our approach to this issue. But I hope that by sharing our perspective, we can make clear that we are acting in good faith. Above all, we value the work you make and support as creators and backers. And we hope that we can continue to collaborate on bringing more creative work into the world.
We’ve put together a FAQ to help clear up some questions about this complex situation and our response to it. We hope it addresses any questions you might have. And we welcome your feedback: email@example.com.
Sep 27 2019
We shared a message from Kickstarter’s CEO to our community about recent events and the leadership’s response to them. We have also put together this FAQ to help clear up any questions about this.
We originally published this FAQ on September 27, 2019, and we’re updating it as necessary. Last updated October 3.
Will Kickstarter's leadership voluntarily recognize the union?
Kickstarter fully supports our staff’s right to decide if they want to unionize. Our staff members have expressed starkly different opinions on unionization over the last six months. A secret-ballot election run by the National Labor Relations Board will fairly and democratically resolve the internal debate and ensure that all voices are heard. We will recognize a union if our staff chooses that path in an NLRB-certified election.
The organizing effort here has been complicated by the fact that some supervisors have been involved in the organizing process. This is highly unusual. It creates an obvious risk that employees will feel pressure from their supervisors, which is why it’s not allowed under labor law. We’ve received complaints from staff members about this.
Two weeks ago the union organizers urged the staff to pursue “a fair, anonymous, and democratic election.” That should be the next step. We have a responsibility to protect the rights of all of our staff members in this process. It's their right to decide if there should be a union at Kickstarter, not ours.
What if there is an election and the staff votes to unionize?
If an election is called, Kickstarter’s leadership will do all we can to ensure that it is carried out in a fair and fully democratic way. And if a majority of the staff in an appropriate bargaining unit votes in favor of a union, we will fully respect that choice and negotiate in good faith toward a collective bargaining agreement.
What does Kickstarter’s leadership think about the idea of a union at the company?
As we told the staff in May, we don’t think a union framework is the right tool to fix Kickstarter’s problems. We think that the company is better positioned to overcome its challenges, serve its mission, and do right by its employees and community without this framework. As a public benefit corporation, and a small but mighty 160-person company, Kickstarter is already set up in a way that reduces the pressure to chase profits and keeps us focused on our mission: helping to bring creative projects to life.
The organizers have not yet clearly communicated the problems that they believe a union could address, and how a union would fix them. This has made it more difficult to determine how this union would benefit Kickstarter.
Why would the leadership take a side on the unionization question?
We feel it’s appropriate for us to have an opinion on the issue, and some staff members asked us to share our views. We can provide a perspective that is important for employees to consider, given our duty to balance the interests of our creators, backers, current and future staff, shareholders, and our future as an organization. But we have made absolutely clear to the staff that the final decision is in their hands, and that we will of course respect the outcome of an election.
Is Kickstarter retaliating against union organizers?
Kickstarter has not fired or retaliated against anyone for union organizing. We recently terminated two employees, and we understand how that would raise concerns given their roles in the organizing effort. But that involvement had nothing to do with their terminations. We will be providing documentation of the reasons for these terminations to the National Labor Relations Board.
It’s worth noting that since March we've given raises to 14 people who have been public about their support for a union, and promoted three of them.
As the company’s staff debates this question, what is Kickstarter’s leadership doing?
Clearly the decision isn’t ours to make. But we do have an important role to play here. We can create a space where the rules around organizing are followed, one where staff members can make a decision that is well-informed and entirely their own, free from inappropriate pressure or personal criticism. That’s what we’ve aimed to do in the six months since the unionization effort was announced, and what we will continue to do.
At times this has been a difficult role to play as tensions among the staff have run high. We’ve tried to tread a path that gives the staff room to make this important decision for themselves.
How has Kickstarter’s leadership responded to concerns raised by the staff since March?
Kickstarter’s leadership has taken steps this year to improve communication, transparency, and trust in the organization. Some of these initiatives were in the works before the organizers announced their effort. Here’s some of what we’ve done:
- A commitment to a more transparent salary framework. We've shared an explanation of our salary bands for engineers with that team, and by the end of the year we'll roll out an updated salary band framework to the full company.
- Mandatory training for all staff in unconscious bias, anti-harassment and anti-discrimination, along with training on how to keep bias out of the hiring process.
- Regular sharing of the company’s financial performance with the entire staff.
- An improved biannual performance review process with a clear framework for raises, promotions, and feedback on areas for improvement.
We’ve also focused on fostering more transparent and open communication internally, including open Q&A sessions at the end of our all-company meetings, regular email communication from the CEO on the focus and direction of the company, and ‘fireside chats’ with senior leadership.
What are working conditions like for Kickstarter’s staff?
We use market data to determine salaries for all of our employees, ensuring that we are paying fairly and consistently based on people's experience, skills, and responsibilities. We offer all of our staff members 18 vacation days a year, and we also close the office for a week in July and a week in December. We offer four months of paid parental leave for all new parents, education/wellness/bike stipends, time off for creative and volunteer work, fully paid medical/dental/vision coverage, a flexible work-from-home policy, fresh produce from our rooftop garden, company lunches on Thursdays, and what may be the most beautiful office in all of New York City.
Sep 23 2019
Starting this month, Kickstarter and Factory Berlin are teaming up for an ongoing residency of workshops, lectures and editorial events at Factory Berlin’s Creators Lab, a multi-purpose environment hosting music and artist studios and a meditation room located at Görlitzer Park.
This collaboration will provide a space for creators in the Kickstarter and Factory Berlin network to share knowledge and connect with competent partners and like-minded collectives. Every 3 months, Kickstarter will invite a like-minded organisation to help co-curate the Factory’s Creators Lab with a focus on themes like sustainability, mental and physical wellbeing, the creative process, ethical entrepreneurship, and innovation.
’On Feeling Healthy’ events with shesaidso
Kicking things off on September 24, we’re most happy to join forces with shesaidso, a global network of women and nonbinary folks in the music industry. With their focus on female empowerment, encouraged allyship, and the exchange of emotional and practical guidance, shesaidso are a perfect match for Kickstarter and Factory Berlin’s joint mission to bring creators together as a community.
In addition to Kickstarter’s upcoming involvement in shesaidso’s first ever conference - MEETSSS - happening in Portugal this October, there will also be two invite-only events at Factory Berlin, tackling mental health and physical well-being for working creatives. . This is a particularly important topic, especially for people committed to doing things on their own terms and relying on their own talent as their main resource.Regularly checking in with your body and emotional balance is more important now that ever before. For those in attendance, and even available for those who can’t join on the day, Kickstarter and The Creative Independent created a brand new zine, “On Feeling Healthy” that captures practical tips and spiritual guidance from creatives of all disciplines on how to keep physically and mentally on top.
More information on these events below:
Kickstarter x Factory Berlin pres. shesaidso
- Tuesday, September 24
Presented by Franziska Eichler
Lecture / Networking / Q&A
Mental and physical wellbeing coach Franziska Eichler knows a thing or two about dealing with keeping calm under pressure. In 2017, the former booking agent and tour coordinator of electronic music heavyweights like Richie Hawtin and Skrillex decided to switch lanes and become a trained yoga teacher and nutritionist in order to help people make better lifestyle choices, and have more control over their health and state of mind.
In this session, Franziska will give detailed advice and practical tips on how to use a balanced diet, meditation and breathing, exercise and day-to-day routines to effectively switch from ‘fight or flight’ modes into states of deep relaxation.
If you’re interested in attending this event, you can learn more and book your spot here.
- Wednesday October 23
Yoga and Wellness Workshop Presented by Anna Giunta of Flawsome Yoga Wellness
Lecture / Workshop / Yoga ClassItalian Berlin-based Health Coach & Yoga teacher Anna Giunta has made it her priority to reconnect her clients with their minds, bodies, and embrace their flaws. Anna has worked many years in the music industry, first as a radio host then as a talent agent, before she underwent training as a yoga teacher in India and holistic health coaching with the world’s largest nutrition school The Institute of Integrative Nutrition, New York. Running her Flawsome Yoga Wellness service, Anna is also one of the resident trainers at Berlin’s newest innovative Yoga, Pilates and Barre studio John & Janes.
In this hands-on yoga and wellness workshop, Anna will share practical knowledge on nutrition and life hacks, breath work and specific yoga flow that can be integrated into your daily routine in order to live a balanced and healthy life.
’On Feeling Healthy’ with shesaidso will be the first installment of an ongoing collaboration between Kickstarter and Factory Berlin. Watch this space to read more about event recaps and learnings, and all upcoming partnerships and co-curated events taking place at Factory Berlin in the months to come.
Sep 17 2019
On September 20, Kickstarter is inviting our staff to participate in the Climate Strike. Here in New York, staff are welcome to take the day off to attend the protests. We’re also supporting team members who work remotely and want to take time off to join a protest in their area.
When Kickstarter became a Public Benefit Corporation in 2015, we included our planet as one of the stakeholders we consider when making decisions. Being an environmentally conscious company is something we’ve baked right into our charter. We've manifested this commitment through our work with the Environmental Defense Fund to create an Environmental Resources Center for creators and through the day-to-day choices we make in our office space, such as launching a composting program and using low-energy lighting.
While some companies participating in the Climate Strike may choose to shut down entirely, our platform will remain live. We’re taking this approach because we know that thousands of creators, many of whom are small and independent, rely on our platform to bring their ideas to life. If you're a creator with a live project and you want to express your support for the Climate Strike on your project page, we have a graphic for you.
You can learn more about the Climate Strike and how to participate at globalclimatestrike.net.
Sep 12 2019
When the temperatures cool and the sky turns a bit grayer, it generally signals the beginning of my favorite time of year: the fall performance season. Each year Kickstarter plays host to dance, theater, and performance projects that comes in all forms—and this year is no different. From a techy sendup to a performance inspired entirely from one playwright’s dreams, here are some of our favorite things to catch this fall in NYC, London, and Seattle, many of which found funding through our Performance: In Progress initiative this spring.
Looking at You by Handel, Marting, & Sankaram
September 6—21, New York
The nerds at fictional corporation Silicon Hills like to party. They’re in the middle of a celebration at their massive headquarters when the audience joins in the fun. As you order a free drink from the singing, computer-generated assistant built into your table, a swirl of operatic voices, EDM and crime jazz surrounds you. With Looking at You, you’re invited to enter a story of high-tech espionage and sultry romance.
Four by Four by Dance Umbrella
October 8—26, London
For the fall season, international dance festival Dance Umbrella highlights two commissions from “choreographers of the future” Mythili Prakash (USA) and Georgia Vardarou (Greece). Catch their newest works, as well as dozens of other great dance works, this fall in London.
Turning Towards A Radical Listening by James Allister Sprang
Performances: October 3—5,10—12, New York
Exhibition: October 29—December 15, New York
Auto-diction technology has a problem recognizing Blackness. The resulting glitches—heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and sometimes even funny—are turned into a live soundscape and concrete poem in the hands of James Allister Sprang.
Orphans, Thieves, and Other UnLived Lives by Jessica Jobaris
November 7—16, Seattle
Martha Graham once called epigenetics, or changes in our heritable gene expressions, our “blood memory.” Seattle choreographer Jessica Jobaris and a team of local performers are creating a new dance-theater performance inspired by this concept.
Orchid Receipt Service by Corrine Donly
Dates TBC, New York
How do you bring a dream to the stage? This play, produced and performed by Billions’s Asia Kate Dillon, takes the dreams of its playwright and manifests them in this epic production written for and created by an all-star TGNC team.
Can’t get enough theater, dance, and performance? Here are a few more Kickstarter-funded shows you can attend this fall.
Ongoing: Say Something Bunny (New York)
9/11: Buglisi Dance Theatre’s The Table of Silence Project (New York)
9/20—10/3: Adrienne Truscott’s (Still) Asking for It (New York)
10/7: FEAST Season 4 begins (New York)
10/12—10/18: Kimberly Bartosik’s I hunger for you (touring the Northeast U.S.)
10/30—11/10: What to Send Up When It Goes Down (Washington, DC)
11/7—12/8: Sarah Friedland’s Crowds (New York)
11/20—11/24: What to Send Up When It Goes Down (Boston)
12/4—12/7: Tess Dworman’s A Child Retires(New York)
12/7—12/18: Buttcracker IV...The Final Countdown! (Seattle)
Sep 10 2019
For three years running, we’ve invited creators to join us at Kickstarter HQ to start something new. Earlier this year, we announced an open call for the fifth edition of our Creators-in-Residence program. We received hundreds of applications from amazing, independent creative people, and today we’re thrilled to announce five incoming Creators-in-Residence at our HQ and four creators who will be participating in our first-ever digital residency program for the fall 2019 season.
Previous Creators-in-Residence have used our in-house theater for screenings, recorded new episodes in our podcast studio, and hosted events and gatherings in our library. Many have gone on to accomplish exciting things in their fields:
- Director Dafina Robert’s web series, Giving Me Life (in the Land of the Deadass), launched during the residency and is now distributed through Xfinity, UrbanOne, Gravitas Ventures and RevryTV.
- Filmmakers Dan Schoenbrun and Vanessa McDonnell’s cult variety TV show, The Eyeslicer, was funded and partially shot at Kickstarter’s HQ, and will soon debut as part of the Radical Film Fair.
- Artists Jennifer and Kevin McCoy’s film Public Key / Private Key is now in the Whitney Museum's Special Collection.
This season, we’re also running a pilot program to provide guidance to creators beyond NYC in collaboration with On the Boards. OtB is a non-profit that produces and presents innovative contemporary dance, theater, and music. On the Boards and Jessica Massart, Kickstarter’s Senior Performance Lead, will mentor performance makers in the Seattle area as part of our new digital residency program over the course of three months as they plan, launch, and fulfill Kickstarter campaigns.
Learn more about the incoming residents below, and stay tuned for their projects.
Join us in welcoming five creators into our Brooklyn HQ for the next three months
Adele Free Pham is an activist and filmmaker, with experience in all aspects of documentary production. Her feature documentary, Nailed It, which tells the genesis and culture of the Vietnamese nail industry, premiered on PBS in May 2019–and is the highest streamed film of the America Reframed series. While in residence at Kickstarter, she’ll be working on a campaign for her next feature, State of Oregon, which investigates the murder of Larnell Bruce Jr. by a white supremacist in 2016 as a touchstone to Oregon’s founding as a white homeland state.
José Rivera Jr. creates glam musical paintings using powerhouse vocals, athletic dance, and video art. Building for stage and screen, José orients toward a Queer Future by queering narratives of love, power, and vulnerability. José has made work for YouTube, Radio City Music Hall, La MaMa ETC., NYU Tisch, The Flea Theater, and Fordham University. During the Kickstarter residency, José will plan and launch a campaign for LQQK, The Way I Look, a visual EP featuring four original songs and choreographies.
Katya Grokhovsky is an artist, curator, and educator. Katya has received support through numerous residencies and fellowships, and has been awarded the Brooklyn Arts Council Grant, NYFA Fiscal Sponsorship, ArtSlant 2017 Prize, Asylum Arts Grant, Chashama space to create grant, Australia Council for the Arts ArtStart Grant, NYFA Mentoring Program for Immigrant Artists, Freedman Traveling Scholarship for Emerging Artists and others. While in residence at Kickstarter, Katya will plan and launch a campaign for The Immigrant Artist Biennial, a platform for a large scale multi-disciplinary exhibition and a series of public events of critically engaged contemporary art made by immigrant artists.
Rachel Kauder Nalebuff is a writer exploring community. She is the editor of My Little Red Book (Twelve Books, 2009) and co-editor of The Feminist Utopia Project (Feminist Press, 2015). She directs 3 Hole Press, a small press for performance works in printed formats. As a Creator-in-Residence, Rachel and her collaborators will work on a campaign to turn 3 Hole Press into a long-term, sustainable endeavor.
René Kladzyk is a musician, writer, perfumer, and cultural geographer who performs under the moniker Ziemba. Drawing from a background studying feminist geography and the U.S./Mexico borderlands (René is a native of El Paso, TX), her work frequently interrogates identity, culture, and ethical issues in the performing arts. Her most recent full length album, ARDIS, functions as a series of portals into a fragrant sci-fi adventure and parallel world. René also co-leads Xoir, an experimental vocal collective, along with Berlin-based artist/musician Colin Self. While in residence at Kickstarter, René will work on a new project addressing the gender imbalance in the music industry.
As well as four Creators-in-Residence joining us digitally, in collaboration with On the Boards
Dakota Camacho dedicates yo’-ña creative practice to the re-k/newal of ancestral knowing and the expression of Matao creativity. MALI'E, Camacho’s current work, is a performance research project re-k/newing the traditional Matao practice of embodied, improvisatory, collective, singing where oral history and prophecy converge.
Fox Whitney is an interdisciplinary performance maker and artist working at the intersection of dance, film, theater and visual art. Fox is the choreographer/architect of Gender Tender, an interdisciplinary performance project that centers his transgender, point of view. While in residence, Fox will plan and launch a campaign to expand Melted Riot, a queer meditation inspired by the Stonewall Riots of 1969.
Imana Gunawan is a storyteller, multimedia journalist, dance artist, and creative director. She leads breaking news coverage of Indo-Asia-Pacific for Dataminr. As an artist, Imana creates scenic, surreal dance-based worlds that center the stories of marginalized peoples, their ancestry, and their futures. During the Kickstarter residency, Imana will be developing on an editorial lookbook and digital album featuring original songs by local QTPOC musicians.
Naomi Macalalad Bragin is a dancer, performance scholar and community artist-activist. Naomi will run a campaign for Little Brown Language, a dance-incantation using aural kinetic rhythms of shared voice to remix historical texts of Spanish colonization and Catholic conversion, in their collaborators' linked motherlands of the Philippines and Venezuela. Naomi, Milvia Salvatierra Pacheco and Angel Alviar Langley perform these collective acts of cultural translation/reclamation to activate psychic ancestral patterns of memory, recovering their relationships to land, language and each other.
Sign up for the Kickstarter Alumni newsletter to learn more about our Creators-in-Residence.