by Mike Masnick
Fri, Dec 6th 2013 5:40pm
by Michael Ho
Tue, Oct 1st 2013 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- The odds of vasts amounts of ice existing on the moon are looking pretty grim. Without a significant amount of ice on the moon, potential lunar colonies would have to bring their own water -- and that would make it a lot more expensive to live on the moon. [url]
- Mark Burnett has been pitching a reality TV show for putting contestants into space since the late 1990s, even selling a show called Destination Mir to NBC in 2000. Burnett's latest space-themed reality show would put an ordinary person on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. [url]
- Sony Pictures Television is launching a reality TV show on Dutch broadcaster Nederland 1 called Milky Way Mission that will have (local Dutch) celebrities competing for a seat on an XCOR spaceplane via the Space Expedition Corporation's (SXC) space airline. The first season will have eight 1-hr episodes that
willmight end in a blast off to an altitude of 340,000 feet. [url]
- Objective Europa is an ambitious manned exploration project that aims to put people on an icy moon of Jupiter. The organizers plan to crowdfund a one-way trip to Europa, and these astronauts would face certain death even if they managed to reach Jupiter's moon. [url]
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 10th 2013 10:33am
PayPal Promises That It's Changing Its Evil Ways In Wrongly Freezing Legit Accounts... But Does So Almost Immediately Again
from the whoops dept
Instead, the PR person pointed me to two links. The first was a blog post from PayPal's President, David Marcus, promising a more "customer first" approach that avoids those kinds of "false positives." The post -- which was written a few days before PayPal froze Mailpile's account -- notes that the company had gotten away from a customer-centric focus, and they were hearing too many media stories about terrible experiences people were having because of PayPal's screwed up process. There are two specific promises in that blog post which it appears that PayPal totally flopped on when it came to MailPile. First, it insists that they need to "take more risks," by which he means "catch more bad guys and way fewer good guys." In fact, he claims that they've already "tweaked" their system and "Hundreds of thousands of customers who may have experienced holds last year based on our policies are no longer impacted."
The other promise is that PayPal would "be human." It notes that the company has changed its policies and now "gives the benefit of the doubt to the seller." Once again, that didn't seem to work at all when it came to Mailpile. Meanwhile, while I apparently didn't qualify to speak to someone at PayPal, they did send someone out to talk to other sites like Ars Technica and Security Ledger, where they just kept pointing back to that Marcus blog post about how they're really working hard to do a better job.
Except, apparently, they've still got some kinks to work out.
Because here we are, just a few days later, and (oh look!) Paypal has done the same damn thing to yet another IndieGoGo campaign, telling the makers of Yatagarasu Attack on Cataclysm that they've frozen their account until the game is actually released. PayPal even told the company that they have no option to discuss this and only to contact the company "closer to the release date beginning next year." In this case, the whole situation is even more ridiculous, because the developers had "already provided PayPal with documents providing the bona fides of Nyu Media, the developer, and the campaign."
Of course, a few hours after the media started picking up on this, PayPal once again admitted the error and reversed course. However, relying on media attention as the check and balance in your broken algorithm doesn't seem like the most effective of systems.
I think PayPal might want to go back to tweaking those algorithms. Especially that "be human" one.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jul 25th 2013 7:27pm
from the about-time dept
Last year we wrote about some folks in Germany who were trying to do something about this, starting a competing collection society that understood that "free" wasn't necessarily a bad thing, and which actually respected its members and the new opportunities presented by the internet, beyond looking at them all as a cash register to shake as much money as possible out of. This organization, called C3S or the Cultural Commons Collecting Society is finally getting off the ground, and wouldn't you know it, they're turning to crowdfunding to make it work. Within a very short period of time, they've raised over €34,000 of the €50,000 target -- though they are really aiming for €200,000.
They point out that they're not against traditional licensing at all, but think there's room for a more forward looking organization that recognizes both traditional licensing and more modern options that many musicians want. Furthermore, unlike GEMA, C3S is designed to be open, social and democratic. This should be an interesting project, worth following.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 22nd 2013 11:17am
from the real-time-market-research dept
Android may not be my or your first choice of Linux, but it is without doubt an open source platform that offers both practical and economic benefits to users and industry. So we have both competition, and good representation for open source, in personal computing.This came a few months after Canonical had announced that it was launching Ubuntu for mobile platforms back at MWC.
Even though we have only played a small part in that shift, I think it's important for us to recognize that the shift has taken place. So from Ubuntu's perspective, this bug is now closed.
Now they're taking it up a notch with an incredibly ambitious crowdfunding campaign on IndieGogo, trying to raised $32 million in one month, for an exclusive new hardware device, the Ubuntu Edge, which will only be available to backers of the project (if it gets funded). The video Shuttleworth put together is worth watching:
One other interesting tidbit: they set up the campaign so that if people bid on the first day, they can get the phone for $600, or $230 less than it is throughout the rest of the campaign. The campaign shot through half a million very quickly and is still going up from there, but I wonder if it will slow down a bit after the first day and the price goes up.
If this project reaches $32 million, it will more than triple the most successful crowdfunding project to date, the Pebble smartwatch, which raised over $10 million. But, this is exactly the kind of project that crowdfunding was made for -- because it really is investing in a somewhat risky project, while also acting as a form of market research. People who are buying into this are buying into the vision -- which is definitely a risk. The phone hasn't been built yet. All the imagery are renderings, rather than prototypes. And, you never know how the execution will turn out. Personally, I'd rather see and feel a phone before I shell out $600 or $800 for the device, but for people will to support the basic idea of advancing mobile computing, it appears that many see it as a worthwhile contribution towards that goal, whether or not the device itself turns out to be worth it.
It's quite impressive to see how quickly they've brought in so much money -- and it will really say something about the hunger for moving the space forward if they can get to $32 million. Of course, even if it doesn't reach the $32 million goal, the project is clearly successful on multiple levels. As we've noted in the past, crowdfunding projects that don't reach their goals are not "failures." They're smart market research at work. If there isn't a big enough market for these phones, Canonical just saved itself a ton of money by not going ahead with the actual production. And, at the same time, they still get a ton of free publicity for the mobile software... So whether or not this project hits its goal, it's crowdfunding done right.
by Leigh Beadon
Fri, Jun 21st 2013 12:00am
light for cause
Case Study: Light For Cause Turns An Average Campaign Into A Charitable Quest To Meet Richard Branson
from the many-paths-to-success dept
As part of our sponsorship program with Insightly, we're exploring some innovative businesses that have used the CRM tool. In this sponsored case study, we're looking at Groovy Lights and the Light for Cause initiative.
As crowdfunding gets more popular, the mere act itself no longer brings publicity, so it becomes more important for creators to find a way to stand out on crowdfunding platforms. A product like Groovy Lights seeking $40,000 could easily get lost in the shuffle, so creator Joe Player found a way to wrap it up with a sponsorship program and a charitable initiative doubling as a marketing plan, in a nice little example of synergy.
Indiegogo, which has somewhat more relaxed rules than Kickstarter, is the place where the more experimental crowdfunding campaigns often happen. Instead of just pre-selling enough lights to launch the product, the Indiegogo campaign sets a more interesting goal, dubbed the Light for Cause initiative: selling the lights to raise money for the Virgin Unite Foundation, in turn gaining an opportunity for Player to discuss the initiative and the product with Richard Branson and get his endorsement. We've noted studies before that show how crowdfunding projects do better when they have a charitable component, and the chance to tie that in with some celebrity marketing was a smart thing to take advantage of.
Looking at the campaign page, it actually all feels a bit chaotic, with the reward tiers including other unrelated products, Mexico vacations and corporate sponsorships (this is the occasional downside of Indiegogo's less structured system). But that doesn't seem to have hampered it, since the campaign hit the $40,000 goal almost exactly, and is now headlined with a photo illustrating its success:
The tiers were successful too: all three vacations with Player were sold (and that's an ambitious offering — most crowdfunders limit tiers like that to a weekend in their home town), and one company snapped up a "gold corporate partnership" which includes a bunch of marketing opportunities. That latter aspect is particularly interesting: while many crowdfunders focus solely on finding customers, and that's clearly goal number one with any campaign, there's also a huge opportunity at the crowdfunding stage to start finding sponsors, advertisers and other corporate partners. I wouldn't be surprised to see a new crowdfunding platform that focuses more on such networking in the future.
Overall, a successful experiment. The Groovy Light looks cool, but it's hardly alone as a "funky home decor" item in the crowdfunding world, and there's no way to guarantee it would stand out — but there's also lots of market room for such products, and a little ingenuity in how it was funded got it the attention it needed. The biggest thing that campaigns like this remind us is how much of an open field crowdfunding is — those who are concerned it "won't work for everyone" are portraying it as a single strategy when, in fact, it can support a multitude of approaches (and we haven't yet seen them all).
This post is sponsored by Insightly. Check out Insightly's case study of the Groovy Lights campaign and how it used the CRM tool to manage backers and customers. Sign up for a free account today »
by Mike Masnick
Sat, Jun 15th 2013 9:00am
from the you-deserve-one dept
- First up, The Ice Baller, for those of you who think your ice cubes are too cloudy, too small, and too... cubed. It's a device designed to make larger, clear, round ice balls. Pretty self explanatory.
- Ice is so last century. How about some ChillBottles -- little stainless steel refreezable bottle-shaped devices to cool down your drinks. They even come in a small "six pack" stainless steel case that will keep the bottles cool outside of the freezer. This reminds me of another Kickstarter project -- called pucs which closed a couple weeks ago. That one was much more popular, but the ChillBottles are still available (and cheaper).
- Okay, maybe you shouldn't just be thinking about what to put inside your drink to cool it down. Some designers have come up with a funky looking device called TurboCool to (they claim) quickly cool down any canned drink. I have to admit that I'm not sure I understand how or why this works, but it's basically a cannister in which you put water & ice, and then your can, and you pump the top so the can spins. Sort of the same functionality as a salad spinner. I can see how this would get the drink marginally cooler faster, but still seems like it would take a while to get a drink really cool.
- Finally, what good is a cool drink if the drink isn't very good. Rejigger seems like an easier way of making mixed drinks without having to carefully measure each component. Basically, it's a cup with three separate compartments, sized to the usual different ratio of "parts" in various classic drinks. Just pour in the right liquids to the right ratio slots, and you've got a quick mixed drink.
by Michael Ho
Tue, Jun 11th 2013 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- A crowdfunded report on gun research might not get full funding on Microryza. The campaign ends soon, so if you want to see more independent research on gun statistics, pony up! [url]
- Galaxy Zoo is a crowdsourced astronomy project to classify the numerous newly-discovered galaxies seen by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and Hubble Space Telescope. The project started in 2007, and over 150,000 volunteers have helped categorize millions of galaxies. [url]
- The Archon Genomics X Prize challenges teams to sequence 100 complete human genomes in 30 days. The genomes belong to centenarians, but it doesn't look like many teams want to compete for the prize. [url]
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 7th 2013 12:40pm
from the what-a-world dept
by Leigh Beadon
Tue, Jun 4th 2013 12:00am
from the it-takes-more-than-just-a-kickstart dept
A lot of the attention given to Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms these days has been spurred by the big runaway success stories — the Pebble smartwatch, the Double Fine Adventure, Amanda Palmer's project, and many others that exceeded their fundraising goals in the first few days and kept on climbing. The phenomenon is not limited to these multi-million dollar examples: countless smaller projects have shot past their more modest goals multiple times over.
Whether it's a $500 project that raises $10,000 or a $100,000 project that raises millions, the result for the creator is the same: a stunning success that has the potential to turn into a crisis or an even bigger opportunity, depending on how they handle it.
That's the other side of the double-edged sword that is success on Kickstarter, and it often gets ignored. If you're a creator with a product in the pipeline — whether it's software, hardware, an album, a film or anything else that takes time and work — and your plan is to raise some money while piloting it out to a few hundred people, suddenly having hundreds of thousands of paying customers on your hands can be more daunting than exciting.
Not only does the challenge of order fulfillment become much bigger and more complex (this is where a lot of campaigns fall down), there's also the issue of managing so many expectations. Hundreds of wall comments and private messages (some less polite and more demanding than others) start arriving, all while you're trying to finish the actual work. And that starts the moment the campaign picks up steam — meaning the actual money often won't be arriving for weeks.
Some creators have talked about the problem. Palmer Lucky, who kickstarted the Oculus Rift headset, faced the issue of excited backers drawn in by the popularity of the campaign who hadn't fully read the details, and were anticipating a more complete product than was actually promised. A 2012 study found higher rates of late delivery among overfunded projects.
A big part of the problem is the relatively lackluster backer management tools found on Kickstarter and similar services. Communication is a huge part of running a successful campaign, since things are bound to go wrong, but backers are almost always understanding as long as they aren't left in the dark. Runaway success projects — or at least the ones that still deliver — tend to move beyond Kickstarter for the hard work of customer management: they take the discussion to their own forums, they set up their own mailing lists and customer request systems, and they move more and more communication to more robust platforms (Kickstarter only offers blog-esque updates and an inflexible survey system). Apart from ensuring that a project delivers its goals on time, there's the fact that most crowdfunding campaigns are also about starting a business, which means hopefully converting lots of backers into repeat customers.
Ultimately, the success of crowdfunding campaigns seems to come down to how well the creators build and manage a community — and currently the crowdfunding platforms themselves can only play a small part in that.