Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler has developed a successful service devoted to raising money, but don’t mistake him for a capitalist.
“We don’t care about money,” Strickler told the Tuesday audience at TheGrill, TheWrap’s annual media conference.
Fans have now pledged more than $375 million through the crowdfunding site, but Strickler, Perry Chen and Charles Adler founded the company to empower creative people and support projects that otherwise would have gone unfunded.
To underscore his disinterest in profiteering, Strickler noted a law signed by President Obama, one conceived in part for Kickstarter. It permits people who pledge money to projects on crowdfunding sites to earn equity in the project. If that project becomes a hit, the investors cash in.
Strickler, who is also head of community at the company, predicted the new law would launch another 400 or 500 crowdfunding sites, describing it as a "nightmare."
Kickstarter will never do that, he pledged.
“Most ideas in the world are funded because they have the ability to make someone else's money. That’s what investment is, what lending is,” the former music critic said. “Ninety-nine percent of ideas have no ambition to create money whatsoever. The extent of the dream is, ‘I wanna make this.’”
“To create something and not be in the red, that’s a huge victory,” he later added. “Did you make it? Did you kill yourself doing it? Did other people see it? Those are values we speak to.”
Despite Strickler’s desire to remain small and altruistic, Kickstarter is a rapidly growing business.
Just three years ago, the company consisted of three people who were inspired by the pending cancellation of “Arrested Development.” Their mutual desire to save the show led to a meeting with actor David Cross, who was the company’s first investor.
It now has 45 employees and next year will move from a tenement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to a historic landmark in Brooklyn.
In the past year, it has produced a project that raised $10 million — the Pebble Watch — and transformed the world of independent filmmakers.
About a third of the projects on the service are films, and 10 percent of the slates at the Sundance, South by Southwest and Tribeca Film Festivals were funded by Kickstarter.
The biggest film project to date is "Anomalisa," a 45-minute stop-motion film from Charlie Kaufman and Dan Harmon. It raised $406,237.
For Strickler, it epitomizes the types of project Kickstarter was founded to support.
"It has no place in the marketplace — theaters don't want a 45-minute movie — but it's also something fans would want," Strickler said.
However, it also presages a time when film projects raise millions and millions of dollars on the service.
No film project has crossed the $1 million barrier, but Strickler predicted that one would within the next few months.
Strickler may not care about money, but his users do.