Feature Friday: Follow Friends On Kickstarter

Our portfolio company Kickstarter soft launched a feature this week that I've been begging for since the early days of the service. It is called Follow Friends and it looks like this:

Follow friends
As you can see, I am following a total of 123 friends and they have backed a total of 2,220 projects. However, it's not the projects they have backed in the past that is the big deal. It is the projects they are backing in real time. When they do that, I get an email letting me know they backed a project, with a link so I can go join them. That's the feature I've wanted since the early days of the service.

My friend Whitney built a hack that did this a while back. He called it Kisttr and I used it along with a bunch of friends. It worked well but Follow Friends is the fully implemented and integrated version of this simple idea.

Of course, this is nothing new for web services. This is state of the art actually. It's amazing that Kickstarter has gotten so huge without a social fabric.

I'm excited to see how Kickstarter evolves this social fabric now that they have it. I think this simple feature just made Kickstarter so much more awesome. Thanks Kickstarter team for finally giving me my #1 feature request.


Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    “I get an email letting me know they backed a project, with a link so I can go join them. That’s the feature I’ve wanted since the early days of the service.”More email? Was this a guest post? What did you do with the real Fred?

      1. JimHirshfield

        Understood, social networks work better when they reach out to me with timely and relevant content. “Timely” and “relevant” being the operative words. I hate the generic “You have notifications” email from FB. No added value.

        1. Luke Chamberlin

          “Someone tagged you in a photo from 2am last night. Log in to Facebook to remove the tag before anyone notices.”

          1. JimHirshfield

            Ha ha ha

        2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          Reach out to  ME.That is hilarious.

      2. Matt A. Myers

        I remember that thread! I agree it’s the main aggregate source, first in importance ahead of people’s phones/mobile number (could be argued which is more important though).

    1. ShanaC

      I think we need digital butlers to handled our email 🙂

      1. JimHirshfield

        You’re volunteering?

        1. ShanaC

          No, I just think it would be awesome

        2. Mark Essel

          Since when did Shana get digitized?

  2. awaldstein

    ‘It’s amazing that Kickstarter has gotten so huge without a social fabric.’Yes…truly amazing.Kickstarter may not have had the social fabric but it surely has touched the collective need of a global population to jump in and support what feels right. A powerful human thread.

    1. fredwilson

      yes, that’s what got me sold early on. 

    2. Mark Essel

      Imagine Kickstarter wed with Disqus.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        That’d be a connection with some leveraging weight behind it. I see it eventually happening, under the correct guided circumstances. 🙂



      1. awaldstein

        Thought about that FG.Fabric implies connection–threads, a place, something.I think not. I think the intent is so core that it just worked without a mechanism of its own. Externalized virality. Shared behavior as the connector.Some stuff just works cause it is right.Will be interesting to see whether standard social loops like ‘follow’ actually amplify this at all.

  3. André DeMarre

    Better (social) project discovery is exactly what they needed.

  4. Nick Grossman

    This is great.  Previously I found out about kickstarter projects through the wind (twitter etc).  I just followed 20 friends and found out about 75 more projects I should know about.  Seems like this should increase giving on kickstarter considerably.

    1. fredwilson


      1. Nick Grossman

        One thing I’d recommend: making the status of each project more prominent. At first, glance, it wasn’t clear to me that they weren’t all active. You get details when you hover each project, but I’d like to be able to see it at a glance. to a) understand which ones aren’t active anymore and b) see where there might be opportunities to help push a project over the top.

  5. Ela Madej

    Yeas, long wait to see this feature released. I could see it speeding up the fundraising process tremendously 😉 Apart from my true love for Kickstarter (in fact, the only reason that I WOULD NOT like them is that I am jealous that it’s not my company!)…It’s a shame that you can’t yet use Kickstarter internationally (i.e. you can’t raise funds). I know it’s a legal thing and I am badly waiting for this to happen. Have quite a few non-work, low-tech art projects in mind that could use some finding.

    1. fredwilson

      this is a priority for the company. it will happen country by country and it will take time.

    2. Tom Labus

      A partner here might help.  

      1. fredwilson


  6. Ela Madej

    Btw, speaking of amazing Kickstarter projects, this one is phenomenal – http://girlwalkallday.com/. It’s a dance project in NYC. It’s absolutely amazing, tremendously positive and everyone should see it, whether you’re into dance or not. I saw it recently at SXSW film but there’s good news for all New Yorkers (looking at you  @fredwilson) –  there’s a screening on April 7th – http://girlwalkallday.com/e… – just go see it, you will love it.

    1. Luke Chamberlin

      Great project and great video!

  7. Luke Chamberlin

    There is a MASSIVE amount of social networking (and emailing!) that takes place outside of Kickstarter. My twitter feed is full of friends’ projects and has been for a year or so. I’ve heard that the average project is about 80% friends/family and 20% strangers. If people weren’t already tapping into their social networks Kickstarter would never be successful.You read about the outliers in the news like Double Fine, which is basically an established and well-known company selling pre-orders. But most projects are driven by friends and family.Great feature and it will lead to increased number of pledges. Great features are often the most obvious and this is a good example.

    1. fredwilson

      yup, totally correct. but i don’t think it is 80% friends and family. i don’t have the exact data and it varies by project of course. but i think its closer to 50/50

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        I used to do marketing/fundraising with nonprofits and have helped some people plan their Kickstarter campaigns. That ratio fits my experience and is close to traditional fundraising events for things like walk-a-thons, etc. If the number really is 50/50 I would be impressed and it would mean Kickstarter is doing an excellent job promoting their projects.Of course it depends greatly on the project category. There is a big difference between a book of personal poetry and pre-orders for something like an iPhone alarm clock stand.Personally I would love to see the data.

  8. markslater

    sharing is evolving. there are early indications of this. 1. data privacy…..people wanting to take control of their data. think of it like this. <insert website=”” x=””> is offering you a great deal <product or=”” set=”” of=”” features=””> but you don’t know what you have to give up in the transaction – except that its free. why would you ever do that deal? people are getting wiser to this and want to take back control. (see VRM, PIDM, recent fundings like disconnect.me, singly etc etc flying right in the face of big data CRM mining nightmare people)2. The web is one big API. sharing 1.0 is commoditized. We are connected – we get it, people can see what we are doing. its not that we wont gesture to share – but the impact to the recipient is diminishing. everything is shared = diminished value to sharing and network effects. I want control of my data, and sharing is cool but i’m over the first wave of “this is so cool i want to share” apps. Its me 1.0. Its deep contextual realtime sharing. which is why the social fabric that kickstarter can build is beautifully meaningful and very much about me 1.0.its tied in to this chaps view of the hyper web. companies like kickstarter are taking us out of the “information sharing” world. that’s yesterdays news. (no punb intended)

    1. awaldstein

      Sharing is evolving is a great way to put this.I think sharing is finding its transactional footing. Sharing 2.0 may be about transactions.’This is a great idea’. Or a ‘great pizza’. Or a ‘great bottle of wine’ are utterances of “I like’.’This is a great idea’, one click to support it through Kickstarter. This is a ‘great pizza’, one click to have delivered. And tougher, this is a ‘great bottle of wine’, one click to purchase and shipped.A profound change.

      1. Brad Lindenberg

        Sharing 2.0 will be about transactions. We will be using the social graph as a commerce platform. All the dynamics of the social graph will be extended to commerce.One click frictionless purchasing outside of the web browser (offline to online) via social networks.I am building this at the moment. It’s the biggest opportunity on the Internet.

        1. awaldstein

          Hi BradI agree.Not certain that all dynamics of the graph will be commercial in orientation but embedded actions be they transactions or connections, I do think is mostly correct.Writing a post on this so glad to hear your thinking on this if you’d like to share more.I have a project in development built on this construct as well.And incorporating this into the design criteria for clients currently. If you are going to build something for what’s coming, social 2.0 is certainly the rock to throw at the speeding train.This is a significant shift.Will not be sudden though. Been a long-time coming actually but yes, it finally feels right and natural to really happen. Examples of pieces of this are popping up.

          1. awaldstein

            Great post. Thanks for sharing.Yes to the pieces of the puzzle that you call out as the elements that make it feasible.Yes to the muscle memory that changes one click shares to one click transactions.But where you see a transactional change layered into the fabric of the social graph, I see a migration, a feeder funnel from the graph to communities and marketplaces built around contextual ubiquity of niche markets.This is not a technology change…although it helps. This is a cultural and behavioral change that is ready to be platformed. An innate drive of behavior and culture that removes the need for middle layers and connects a global population of consumers with a always local world of producers.The brand issue is more complex. I’m working with a client now that takes the idea of transaction as the social handshake and moves this to a blurred on/offline  paradigm based around social objects as transactional elements to be shared cross networks.Great stuff. We agree on the enormity of the change. We differ, at least from a quick read of your post, on where this will take place.Been a pleasure.

          2. Brad Lindenberg

            Yes, the offline/online divide can be bridged in many many ways. And it’s a huge opportunity. Look forward to reading your post.

          3. awaldstein

            Researching transactional systems that are built on a one account bridging multiple POS systems. Like seamless web.If you’d like to chat, ping me [email protected]

          4. Brad Lindenberg

            The API of our system will enable EXACTLY that. Like a virtual wallet that can be shared by different systems. I’ll email you.

      2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        Arnold,I thought about you today when my attention was drawn to a new ad JC Penney is running about returns. Basically its, “happy returns: any item, anytime, anywhere. it’s that simple” and that’s the whole message of the ad.Then with the fact that they are doing away with sales catalogs and all of that…I really think that J C Penney may actually be reinventing retail….It will be interesting to see how much of Apple and its corporate culture Ron Johnson is able to duplicate at JC Penney.   

        1. awaldstein

          Thanks Carl…Don’t watch a lot of network TV so haven’t seen this ad.Will find it and take a look at JC Penny through your eyes.I’ve been spending a lot of cycles thinking through big brands and how they intersect with shoppers cross networks.One of the reason I see transactions as social 2.0 is that social sharing feels and looks a bit hollow, almost like social ennui if you will.This idea that there can never be a handshake between socialization and commerce is like two lines heading towards the horizon and never touching.Transactions bridge those lines.

          1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            I study JCP because I am looking for reaffirmation on at least one level that I am headed in the right direction. To “intersect” with shoppers you first have to be on the same plane as the shopper, and I think what JCP is doing is redefining their relationship with the shopper. You cannot share without being on the same plane…JCP has basically, thus far, come out very simply stating, “we will give you fair pricing all the time and we trust you, if you are not happy return the goods for any reason and at any time…”They are turning the retail cat and mouse game into almost a partnership of sorts.This one will be interesting….

          2. awaldstein

            Is there a household brand name that has made a brand restart as dramatic as the one being tried at JCP?None jumps to my mind.This could be an interesting one to follow.

    2. Cynthia Schames

      Wow.  I actually want to add this comment to my Instapaper.You’re validating something I’m working on in about a million ways, none of which I can publicly discuss just yet.  But….watch this space.  

  9. William Mougayar

    Injecting a “social fabric” as you call it is critical to any new product, because it helps to spread the virality of the service. It would be good to see if this added feature pushes their adoption even further. Have they shared early results with you on the impact of that feature so far? 

    1. fredwilson

      not yet

  10. Phillip Trotter

    Given the CrowdFund act passed the US Senate – it will be interesting to see what lessons and observations can be learnt from Kickstarter’s Follow Friends feature for other funding models. An obvious one is trust and reputation – since you tend to trust your friends – having visibility into what they think is deeply valuable. Longer term pattern recognition such as who routinely picks great projects – will also be interesting to see. Cool Feature.

  11. bsoist

    I got an email yesterday that someone was following me. I thought that was the first one I’d ever seen. I planned to look into following some people today. Kickstarter is my new obsession.

  12. William Mougayar

    Weird, it’s only showing me the Facebook friends option, not the Google Contacts one.

  13. Alan Minor

    “It’s amazing that Kickstarter has gotten so huge without a social fabric.”Maybe I’m misinterpreting this, but it seems to me that Kickstarter has an inherent social component to the service: creators, first and foremost, tend to solicit their immediate, real-life social networks for funding. EDIT: I’m not saying this is a “feature” in and of itself. I’m saying there is such a strong, natural impulse for creators to share their projects with their social networks [and have those networks share with others] that an on-site social fabric wasn’t necessary from the beginning.

    1. jonathanjaeger

      My thoughts exactly. There is an inherent social fabric. The site goes viral because the projects themselves go viral. While it’s nice to see what your friends are backing, the fact that creators are spreading the site is the social/viral aspect with the most juice, in my opinion.

  14. kirklove

    What you said x 2.

  15. thomasknoll

    Just me, or is there actually no “Follow” button on profile pages?

    1. fredwilson

      seems like a good feature request for a future release

      1. thomasknoll

        Looking forward to being able to click the follow button on your profile. =)

      2. whitneymcn

        Already submitted the request to Yancey. :)I may actually bring Kisttr back online for myself, because it looks like for the time being there’s no simple way to follow someone who isn’t already within your social network, and some of the most interesting projects I found came through people I don’t know.

  16. ShanaC

    May I ask you what’s with the coffee pot 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      i want it in my kitchen. it’s like a work of art that makes coffee

      1. ShanaC

        So is bodum’s french press and the chemex.I have a weird thing against cold coffee and cold tea :=/  just ewww, waste of good caffeinated liquids.Though I admit, it is good looking – I just wish it brewed hot coffee.

        1. awaldstein

          You want practical beauty and pure functional design for coffee?La Pavoni expresso maker. Timeless. Never breaks. Never been improved in generations. Expensive. Iconic.My favorite thing in the morning after feeding Sam, my cat, is making expresso. Aesthetic and aroma delight 

          1. Tom Labus

            I need to go to Italy to get one.  Maybe a month.

          2. ShanaC

            Espresso isn’t coffee. I mean it is, but it is so different from the seeped or poured over stuff in terms of taste and texture.Though I will remember this comment for when I want an espresso machine. That and to find a good grinder.

      2. LE

        Took a look at it. I agree and I think there is a nice market for everyday products which appeal to upscale buyers.  And gifts for the person who has everything. Expensive clothing is essentially wearable art.Obama gave a hand built barbecue to David Cameron and the story was featured on one of the news shows (showing it being hand built)http://www.youtube.com/watc…(about 45 seconds in on video)It’s a pretty small company.http://www.grillsandcookers

    2. LE

      What coffee pot are you referring to? 

  17. thomasknoll

    I am curious to see if Kickstarter will ever work for launching new businesses that do not sell a physical product, or a consumable piece of media. i.e. It seems to work very well for “pre-ordering” something I would buy if it existed. But I have not yet discovered any successfully backed projects which are essentially seed funding for a service. Maybe this new feature will expose some of those to me?

    1. fredwilson

      it is not intended for that and i doubt that they will ever extend it to that kind of thing

  18. Max Borders

    I have a campaign going right now and I’m sure this would have given it a lift — especially among the entrepreneurial community. Thanks for this post, Fred.

    1. fredwilson

      link to your project please!

        1. fredwilson

          backed it. can’t wait to read the book. timely topic.

        2. Max Borders

          Thanks Fred and everyone. I’ll have to write about this experience. We are disrupting philanthropy with these kinds of tools. It’s truly amazing.

        3. Tom Labus

          Good luck with it.

        4. Michael Elling

           Good luck with this.  Read up on Zipf’s (and other power) Laws.  Wealth creation is part of a natural order.

  19. Elia Freedman

    I learned something surprising and disappointing about KickStarter this week: turns out they won’t put projects on their web site that might be VC funded. A friend has been working on a pretty cool software project and thought he could do some early stage customer development and raise the early money needed via Kickstarter. For various reasons he has not had any success with VCs at this stage. He went through the entire process and, at the end, was told they wouldn’t accept it for this reason.I thought software would be perfect and I know they have done gsoftware games and stuff, so this “rule” just doesn’t make any sense to me. Seems that they would want products like this.

    1. fredwilson

      kickstarter isn’t for seed fundingit is for creative projectsangel list and other awesome services are much better places to get seed funding

      1. markslater

        or not!

      2. Elia Freedman

        He wasn’t looking for seed funding. He was trying to develop a product he thought people could use. Maybe it was the way he presented it.

        1. LE


      3. LE

        “kickstarter isn’t for seed funding”I would think it would be fairly easy game this and to word a project to get around this limitation. 

    2. Luke Chamberlin

      Not for seed funding but great for bootstraping. Many companies have been created after their first product took off on Kickstarter.

      1. Elia Freedman

        That’s what he was trying to do — bootstrap — not seed fund.

        1. Luke Chamberlin

          What kind of software?

          1. Elia Freedman

            It was a productivity-style product. I would want to get his okay before saying anything more myself.

  20. daryn

    A really awesome feature, and while I don’t have any numbers, it feels like its working. I’m seeing more projects funded by my friends, and more projects that are funded by one friend being funded by more mutual friends.Go Kickstarter!

    1. thomasknoll

      My friend @andrewhyde:twitter shares some numbers at http://andrewhy.de/kickstar… and says, “The ‘friend backing email’ will most likely be my top referrer for the project”

      1. daryn

        Very cool.

  21. daryn

    The Kickstarter notification emails are quite good.I think a daily digest would be useful, because i don’t see these events as being time critical, and I’d rather read about and evaluate a list of projects all at once, along with seeing aggregated information about friends funding the same project.However, I also love browsing the Kickstarter website, and the new page is a great addition to their various discovery mechanisms. Nice to have solid experiences via both push and pull.I don’t t

    1. kirklove

      Along these lines Daryn, I’d love to see a better payments/rewards/info process. I find myself hitting the site to back a few projects at a time and having to go through the process multiple times seems silly. Maybe it would take away from the personal nature of it, though I would like to see a cart-like (as crass as that sounds) option to bulk load and back projects.

      1. fredwilson

        etsy ended up building its own payment system to deal with issues like that

  22. Robert Thuston

    Yep – the “follower” model is a beautiful way to filter content.  If you gave me the option of “following” versus an algorithm that sends me predicted interest or crowdsourcing that sends me the top kickstarter projects of the day – “following” EVERY TIME.I don’t want no stinking algorithm or crowdsourcing.

  23. LE

    Kickstarter is like QVC or HSN for nerds and artists. I actually have to stay away from it because of the appeal. I just took a look today (in technology based on this post) and had to resist the temptation to buy a couple of cool things.  (It also reminds me of the old sharper image catalog where the folksy write-ups were part of the appeal and success.)Which brings to mind the concept of a cable show highlighting some of the kickstarter projects which would definitely work, and expand the market even further. Also would work with crowdfunding of startups.

  24. jimmystone

    If the JOBS Act is signed into law, do you think a Kickstarter-for-equity type site is doable?

    1. fredwilson

      yes, absolutely. i would think angel list would be ideally suited to do this

    2. kidmercury

      for sure. that’s the dream!

  25. whitneymcn

    Just saw this, and thanks for the kisttr love!One small technical correction: as far as I know KS doesn’t have an API, so I used “the API of last resort” — good old-fashioned screen-scraping. 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, i corrected that in the post

    2. leigh

      I went and talked to an amazing startup called Thoughtwire — solving the enterprise dbase integration problem – their entire approach scraping vs. worrying about the back end issues.  Sometimes the simplest solutions to complex problems are the best.  

  26. Tommy E

    Wow, I am late to the party.  I don’t think I have ever heard of Kickstarter.  I really like the site.  It says however that it doesn’t fund businesses.  What if you have a project that you hope to become a business? Edit- Whoops didn’t see this: “angel list and other awesome services are much better places to get seed funding”

    1. fredwilson

      kickstarter is for funding projectssome of the top projects have become businessesbut it is not designed for funding businesses

      1. Bernard O'Flynn

        When will Kickstarter go international?

        1. fredwilson

          country by country likely due to payments issues. it is a priority

  27. Guest

    Fred, I love Kickstarter and personally have pledged to 3 projects. Not every company has brilliant and ethical founders like Larry and Sergey so alternative funding methods must exist.

  28. laurie kalmanson

    because, awesome. very very nice. kickstarter is an amazingly great thing. it’s one thing to say you don’t need someone’s permission in the wired world to go out and do a project; it’s another to have a platform to gather support — a launchpad.

  29. aunimh

    I’ll definitely use the friends feature.  Hope it drives more traffic to our project, but it seems like timing is everything on Kickstarter.  We just launched a video game project that coincided with a high-profile game project.  We raised almost $40k in a few days, which is great, but I wonder if we would get more or less if the other game project didn’t go live at the same time.  Hopefully the friends feature will help, but does anyone have any recommendations or insights on how to drive more traffic to a particular Kickstarter project? FYI – our project is here: http://kck.st/AxKPjv

  30. Matthew Lenhard

    Adding a Social feature makes almost anything better and kick starter isn’t any different. Doing something with friends is a whole lot better than doing it by yourself and when you see someone you know backed a project you are going to be more likely to back it  as well. It would be interesting if people were able to build connections with others who back  similar projects even if you never met them; sort of a person discovery engine. 

  31. leigh

     kisttr and kisckstumblr. these micro ecosystems are brilliant.  

  32. jimmystone

    How often does Kickstarter deal with fake projects? Is there a long vetting process? Has the company had to deal with lawsuits from users/backers?

    1. Tom Labus

      Good questions

    2. Xtreme M

      exactly  – there are cases of fraud and its only going to grow …there is no vetting process…

  33. BillMcNeely

    Thank you for continuing to highlight the good work at Kickstarter.Veterans at Startups are beginning to use Kickstarter to fund their ideas.One in particular is Owen Morris. Owen started work on Arg Zombies while deployed to Afghanistan in 2010.http://www.kickstarter.com/…Startup Weekend did a nice write up of Owen  a few weeks ago here: http://startupweekend.org/2…

  34. BillMcNeely

    I just came across a brand new veteran startup called RepayVets. It is Kickstarter for veteran owned firms and non profits. Heres is the background on it http://repayvets.com/page/a… I think I will post a profile on Veteran Sherpa and see if it can get funded.

  35. awaldstein

    Crowd in crowdsourcing.Nicely said. 

  36. mike gilfillan

    Speaking of the JOBS Act, I wonder what the path to returns will look like for all these small investors?   Will they all be expecting a high-flying IPO?   Big money acquisition?   Settle for (eventual) profit sharing?  Or just a discount on the first few products?  What happens to expectations when there are there are no returns? The law of unintended consequences may be lurking in there somewhere…

  37. ShanaC

    there is an AVC seed fund?

  38. kidmercury

    jobs act is going to be huge. this is the real occupy wall st, all we need now is the currency revolution and this basically puts us at the doorstep for that too. it’s going to create a whole bunch of opportunities for local exchanges and local economies. crapple will miss out on this party because they are focused on robbing their suckers i mean customers which admittedly is a lucrative business. for now, at least. 

  39. LE

    ” bring some manufacturing to the US”http://www.nytimes.com/2012…A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day Forgetting for a second whether that story (and other things mentioned in the article) are true or not it’s hard to compete with that work ethic, or desperation or government policies that give you that kind of work force. In this country everybody is “looking to get paid” while the labor overseas will gladly work just to get paid.

  40. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    For the people by the people…. I thought people is a better word than crowd …The google result for crowd … is …”A crowd is a large and definable group of people, while “the crowd” is referred to as the so-called lower orders of people in general (the mob).”

  41. fredwilson

    we are heading into new territory in many ways right now. some will be dark alleys and dead ends. but others will be transformative.

  42. kidmercury

    that’s the most amazing part. this will help end the stupid cycle of flipping towards an IPO because that cycle is designed to rob the sucker at the end — who now has a chance to get in early. but, the key will be the platforms that enable crowdfunding. the right platforms will help minimize bad investments and will introduce better liquidity and terms options. the law of unintended consequences will be defeated by the law of unforeseen innovation. but this goes well beyond internet startup investing. it will bring investment bankign financing opportunities (i.e. mergers, acquisitions, securities trading) to small businesses. 

  43. ShanaC

    I’ve decides nothing matters unless is passes both houses, or is tempted to pass both houses. In this political environment, hoping for good/interesting legislation is just too much for me

  44. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    If there was a road map and street lights pointing the way to “the future” then it really wouldn’t be the future……..oh, and lets be honest….The key difference between a visionary and an entrepreneur is that an entrepreneur knows there are “dark alleys” and “dead ends” but that adds to the thrill of moving forward….

  45. Matt A. Myers

    It will be reputation based. There will be the first people who prove themselves to be worthy of the risk of your money.This style of funding will allow smaller good ideas to get funding, and at least with online tech, the cost of innovation is low – so the up to $1 mil a year raised allows for a very long runway, and at very small amount of risk if the sums are say $100-$1000 per individual.You will be able to see funding go towards even companies who don’t have a pure focus on profits, and where ‘investors’ merely want to see what wants to be built, to be built. You won’t have to have all of the pieces in place that investors want you to have, which reduces their risk (which the concentration is very high if they’re putting in $100k vs. 100 people putting in $1k) – when you have all of the competencies to successfully guide the advancement of the company, you’re just lacking the funds to hire the resources you need / to develop; I hope people will be taught what makes an investment more sound – for the purpose solely of having an idea of how successful a project/company their funding will be. Ex: Who’s the founding team?I’m wondering if I can find a way to use this new option for myself, though being Canadian it could add a big hurdle – however I really do want to explore this option, as I know everyone I speak to about my plans (there’s a bias who I speak to of course, though I can break it down into layman’s terms and explain the level of depth they’ll understand/be interested in the effects of).

  46. ShanaC


  47. mike gilfillan

    Good point, and nice to see your optimistic side.

  48. Luke Chamberlin

    I see a new kind of crowdfunding platform that vets and curates their own portfolio of investments to make sure they are above a certain quality.This will lead to a good reputation and attract both higher-quality investors and companies.Imagine if someone with a reputation like Fred opened their funding rounds to the public through a platform like that. If USV had a curated page on a crowdfunding site.

  49. Mark Essel

    I love it when you talk crowd funded disruption of fiscal flow.

  50. Modernist

    How will platforms help minimize bad investments?

  51. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    “rob the sucker at the end”…. word.

  52. kidmercury

    Professional conspiracists like myself are always the most optimistic people. Those who live in fear of the truth because they believe they cannot change it are the pessimists. as usual they will be proven wrong, and will be deeply embarrassed as a result.

  53. kidmercury

    you nailed it…..one of the many awesome things this will open up is letting small timers follow professional investors……if we get to follow fred or whoever imagine how much more fun participating on these investor blogs will be….hearing them all talk about their portfolio copanies is fun and all but imagine how great it would be if we had money on the line too, imagine the types of beefs that would emerge as people start fighting over money…..fun stuff!it also opens up entirely new ways for funds to operate……for instance i know some internet marketing, have a few properties i can use to give links to people…..i can chip in a few grand to a fund. then we get 100 other people like me, with different skill sets, and we can really invest not just capital but a powerful network in companies that are the right match……i believe this type of model is simply an evolution of the ycombinator model……and it will change the world!

  54. fredwilson

    there’s only one thing wrong with that. the entrepreneur isn’t going to want to sell a ton of equity at the price i want to pay. so there will be a limit to the amount of equity that is available at that price. and i might want all of it.

  55. Luke Chamberlin

    What do you think about a set-aside for “crowd equity” similar to an employee options pool?Maybe it doesn’t work for every deal or even most of them, but I feel like it fits the “large networks of engaged users” model so well. There are other benefits than just money to thousands of engaged stakeholders, who are likely to be users of the service.

  56. fredwilson

    i like that idea very much. we do that already for angels. great idea. i will think more about it.

  57. kidmercury

    that’s for some entrepreneur in the space to figure out. but off the top of my head, the social investing model, whereby you find a few star investors (angel investors who already have a great track record) and let other people follow them.of course, it’s all relative. compared to the SEC, i’m sure internet entrepreneurs will be far more skilled at minimizing bad investments. after all, if they’re not, funds will just go to whichever platform is the best at securing high returns.

  58. LE

    “whereby you find a few star investors (angel investors who already have a great track record) and let other people follow them.”Once you have had your ticket punched by a “angel investors who already have a great track record” you don’t need (and don’t want) crowd funding. And if an angel (or a VC) finds a good company they would shop it to their network. Why do they need the crowd?. That way the favor is reciprocated on a deal that the other angel or VC is working on.

  59. LE

    “it was the consequence of chasing profits “By that are you suggesting that it is any companies responsibility to keep manufacturing here as opposed to finding the lowest cost way to produce their product?I mean in general the average person wants to do the right thing (as does the average company).  But not when it affects them in anything other than a small way.  And that makes total sense to me.

  60. karen_e

    Please, Prof. Crystle, expand upon this point.

  61. kidmercury

    i disagree. the best stuff always starts out looking like a piece of crap, but it presents some unique advantages. i’m not in a position to put a hundred thousand or more into a startup. however, as a person who has been building web sites since the late 90s, i have some skills that many richer people may not have. find a few hundred people like me — which is easy — and now startups have a choice: one investor that might know some other rich people or a few hundred that have all sorts of skills that can help them build their network? in reality many will want both, because the richer people will obviously have skills and connections that the small-timers don’t have. a broader network to pull from will yield the most opportunities, so long as this network is easy to manage (which is the job of whatever platform emerges to facilitate crowdfunding).in the end this is just like wikipedia. you can buy encyclopedia brittanica for way too much money and get some professionals giving you a nice, polished encyclopedia. or you can let hte chaos of the crowd work for you and give you all sorts of solutions you never would have thought of. just like wikipedia is disrupting encyclopedias (crowdsourced publishing disrupting professional publishing), the same will play out with crowdsourced funding. and since we are dealing with funding — meaning directly with money — this has huge financial implications. it will help distribute money to new areas. the VC system consolidates wealth, as the NVCA’s own statistics illustrate. crowdfunding has the potential to change that which is of enormous implications.

  62. fredwilson

    you don’t need it but you might want it. waiting to sell shares to the “public” until you are worth $100bn (are you listening Zuck?) isn’t necessarily the right message to be sending to the people who you built your business on

  63. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Free market with choosy market. That sounds interesting.

  64. LE

    “I think there can be a balance.”Balance is something that seems possible in retrospect. When you are actually going through something you never can know the correct balance in order to insure success and continued success. It’s the  “a man on his deathbed said he should have..” thing.  It’s like trying to time the market.

  65. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    Speaking as someone who comes from an industry that has been totally off shored; the reality is that off shoring can also be a quick and easy fix for profitability when you lack the creativity and or management to seek out innovative ways to solve problems.Its a lot less risky to ship production off shore than it is to be innovative.But the manufacturing industry, just like the entertainment industry, is running out of options and eventually they will have to innovate and change….



  67. Brad

     I sold industrial automation equipment for 6 years. It is amazing how efficient and precise it is. We could run an entire warehouse with out any people touching a single product. It took only a couple of years to make up the cost differential and then the cost was incredibly cheap. Pretty amazing.

  68. ShanaC

    well then, I stand corrected.