Video Of The Week: "This is where culture is moving"

At roughly 10mins in, Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler, starts a short one minute comment that ends with the statement that “this is where culture is moving”. If you don’t have 50 mins to watch the whole interview with Jason, click on this link and watch for one minute.

But if you do have 50mins this weekend, I strongly encourage you to watch this great interview from Jason’s Launch Festival.


Comments (Archived):

  1. You tuber

    FredThe “click on this link”, from using an iPad, just launched iOS YouTube app and starts the video from the beginning.Is that link suppose to jump to the middle of the video? Because it doesn’t.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Worked for me on android

    2. fredwilson

      i’m sorry about that. the links works correctly on the web and apparently it also works on can manually move the video to 9:53 in the video and you will see the part i linked to

  2. JimHirshfield

    I was just reading about Pebble announcing that they’re going to take $1M of the $20M they raised on Kickstarter to fund other Kickstarter campaigns by creators of smart watch bands for the Pebble Time. Flywheel momentum, that there.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      <del>Wasn’t it $10mil?… </del>Oh, nvm. I found the $20 mil one.But who’s counting 🙂 Still a rockstar move, and, I guess that means they haven’t spent it all already. Imagine that.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Nope. Just under $20M on the Kickstarter page as of this morning. Campaign still open for another 6 days.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Yep. I stand corrected!

      2. JimHirshfield

        Your link goes to the first Pebble.I’m referring to the second gen Pebble.

          1. JimHirshfield

            Thanks. You going to buy one?

          2. LE

            Nope.But to be able to answer your question I went and watched the video.I just stopped at the point in the video that said “or catch the score from the game last night”. (2:24) No question that this watch is solving a problem that apparently some people have.Let’s watch some more now…Oh boy. And then “instead of opening an app to see what song is playing you can see it right on the watch face”. Now that’s an important feature!!!!! Then there is an example of the pebble guy saying “hey mom we’re filming I’ll call you back in a bit”. When my mom calls she gets sent to voicemail. Problem solved. She doesn’t have an issue with that either.I’m going to buy an Apple watch. Not because I think I need one (feature set not important) but for what I will call “behavior and marketing r&d” purposes. And it will be tax deductible as well. It can easily be justified on business purposes.See below only “1 left of 23000” for the $179 pledge.Business wise I think what Pebble is doing is great. And great for kickstarter. But let’s honestly see this for what it is. A way for an established company (looks established to me, desks, people working,nice offices) to pre-sell and test market products.Companies have always been able to do this. However kickstarter is, what would be called in the 90’s (you remember this obviously) a portal where everyone gathers. Similar in a way to twitter. Or companies facebook pages. Obviously people could easily do twitter like messages or short updates before twitter. Just not all at the same watering hole.

          3. JimHirshfield

            Yes. Point taken… most of these ‘cool’ features exist because… just because, as kids like to say. IOW, because it’s now possible to put this on the wrist. So, I agree with your point and I wouldn’t buy one of these just to replicate what’s on my phone. But I am looking for a fitness tracker that handles swimming as well as one that tracks sleep. Obviously my phone dies neither of those things. And I’m thinking it makes more sense to get an open platform like the Pebble instead of a dedicated fitness band.

          4. LE

            I’m curious what you feel the “tracks sleep” will actually help you do or in what way it will have benefit?

          5. JimHirshfield

            “The first step towards change is awareness…”I want to improve my sleep. Can’t improve what you don’t measure.

          6. LE

            You do have measurement. This isn’t cholesterol. The measure is how you feel the next day.All the basics for good sleep are freely available in information on the web (or a sleep medicine doctor).Ultimately you have the best measurement device available. That is “the way that you feel” after a night of sleep. If you don’t feel good why do you need a device to tell you you didn’t get good sleep and if you do feel good why do you need a device to tell you that you got good sleep?Can’t you correlate how you feel the next day to actions that you took that caused the good or bad feeling?I work hard in this area also by the way. I’m not going to say that I always get good sleep but I definitely have been able to correlate actions that I take to the end result.

  3. awaldstein

    I’m a fan of KS.A populist for changing cultures empowered by the web’s ability to create an economy of micro artisanal creative endeavors be they a book, an app, or the winemaker who can support a lifestyle on 1,000 cases of wine yearly living in Paso Robles.I don’t believe the implications that Jason seems to imply that this enables businesses that don’t require the infrastructure and complete chain of supply and distribution that we all, I believe, need.KS is a marvel. It is a platform for efficient aggregation of community around a transaction point. It is not a business platform in my mind.Gonna ponder this as the thought of the day.

    1. fredwilson

      the founders would agree with you Arnold. they don’t see it as a platform for doing business although many use it in that way. they see it as a platform for enabling people to bring their ideas to life

      1. awaldstein

        I have a buddy who is doing now his third mulimillion dollar raise to fund games.It is his funding for the core development and initial distribution certainly–and a boon to his business–but I consider it only a piece, important but small of the puzzle.

        1. David Gobel

          Speaking entirely from a tactical/N=5 point of view, I have personally backed 5 projects. Two were delivered months late and did nothing like what they said they would. Two were over one year late and I decided to request a refund since there was no longer value in being early vs the risk and one unilaterally changed what was going to be delivered. The last one is also late but not ridiculously so.Am I the only one with this experience? Of course someone is bound to be unlucky, statistically speaking…but I don’t think so. Soon the shine will come off, and there will be a hew and cry to sue and regulate Kickstarter.

          1. fredwilson

            I have backed something like 70 projects. Some have been late. A few have never shipped. The vast majority have been awesome. Keep doing it. You haven’t backed enough. In venture you need to have a portfolio of at least 20 companies to deal with the failure risk

          2. David Gobel

            The ones I’ve backed were all hardware. Maybe there’s a reason they call it “hard” 🙂 In any case, my experience represents a statistically inevitable class that one day may unite, rise up and storm the castle – whether justified or not.

          3. fredwilson

            hardware projects are about 20-25% of successful projectsi would encourage you to try backing some of the other categories like film, theater, board games, etc

          4. David Gobel

            Interesting! thanks

          5. awaldstein

            I’ve backed a bunch, been actively engaged as a mentor or advisor on about a dozen now.Almost all have delivered.But honestly these are not investments, they are a shot at making something happen that couldn’t.A book on the Jura that is a dream project with a market too small to make it economic, yet it can launch the writers career.Remake of video classics.I’ve never felt a sense of regret. I”m happy when they come to fruition. Most do.

          6. David Gobel

            If we ever do one of these how can we avail our effort of your services? (hope this isn’t too crass a question for this August blog…)

          7. David Gobel

            Thanks. I remember you from my time at Knowledge Adventure (we needed audio drivers – remember that rugby scrum era?)

      2. Brandon Burns

        Really? They seem to be proud of being profitable for 5 years, and intend on keeping it that way so they never have to sell, go public or lose control.They seem altruistic, yes, but they’re clearly business savvy.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Well, being sustainable is certainly a proud moment for any idea or philosophy you want to perpetuate or spread; inherently it makes your own quality of life improve. Most ideas that don’t have organizational/business savvy fail to gain traction or survive. People copy a lot too, competition is brutal – so you need the ability to execute well.

        2. fredwilson

          yes, absolutely. they are running a very good and profitable business. no doubt there.i was talking about what happens on their platform

    2. LE

      It is a platform for efficient aggregation of community around a transaction point. It is not a business platform in my mind.”What do you think Kickstarter is?” is a great Rorschach test. Because in my mind it is a business platform. And browsing the projects on the “top” page seem to support that as fact in my brain (which is why the question is a Rorschach test).KS is a marvel. It is a platform for efficient aggregation of community around a transaction point.Similar in a way to QVC or HSN. “Efficient aggregation of community around a broadcast channel”.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        I’ve thought that too. I’m not an active pledger because I don’t have the disposable income – if I was I’d probably find the niche smaller projects I really want to support and see come to fruition, or perhaps want the product made available.The reason it’s likely mainstream seen as a business platform is that the most popular, loudest projects that get the most exposure are most always final version products that are just being released.

        1. LE

          if I was I’d probably find the niche smaller projects I really want to support and see come to fruition, or perhaps want the product made available.I think if you want to take a small amount of your income, for entertainment value or because it makes you “feel good” that is fine.However if you want to get to the point where you have a great deal of “disposal income” it’s probably best to be a bit selfish with the money that you have. Until you have enough of it that it doesn’t matter.I don’t have a particular problem with the “entertainment” or “feel good” that things like kickstarter or QVC or HSN or “shopping for clothes you don’t need” has. Feeling good is important and can have great side benefits which help you achieve your goals. [1] However like with casino gambling, people don’t always have full control over their spending habits and some people lack self control and go overboard.[1] And I really do mean this but like anything else, “to much milk is not good it’s bad for you..”

  4. William Mougayar

    When you look at things that a competitor can copy (and they can copy just about everything), what they can’t copy is your Culture, your Reputation, and your Values, especially if these are engrained in your foundation.That, in my opinion is what sets KS apart in this segment. Their culture and beliefs exude from their operations. And they end-up attracting customers and employees who share these same values.

    1. LE

      what they can’t copy is your Culture, your Reputation, and your ValuesNot sure I agree with you on that William. Culture can be copied, in business people do that quite frequently. Many of the business on the web today parrot what they have seen others do. Do you think that nobody has borrowed from the culture of Zappos as only one example?Agree that it doesn’t exist from day one but it can be done and is possible. Ditto for “values”.Reputation of course can’t be copied. To take care of that though there is “acquisitions” and to a lesser extent “mergers”.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Unfortunately it’s not hard to be dishonest and unauthentic, so you can look the part for a long time or your words can be different than your actions – and due to network effects generally those companies seem to easily survive.

        1. LE

          I’m not talking about companies that are dishonest and unauthentic. I’m saying that if you observe a company with a particular culture and values that work, you can then incorporate those values into your own structure. It can be reversed engineered in other words by careful study.

        2. JLM

          .I agree with your point but I would also suggest that many first time entrepreneurs do not have fully developed values because they don’t have enough real life experience.I remember the first time I felt like I had gotten taken advantage of in a deal. It smarted because I had gotten screwed but it really hurt because I felt foolish, naive and inexperienced.My face felt hot and red. I was embarrassed. I admitted to myself that I just didn’t know better. It was actually inexpensive tuition.There is nothing wrong with being inexperienced as long as one understands that condition and doesn’t make it a pattern of behavior.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Matt A. Myers


          2. LE

            I remember the first time I felt like I had gotten taken advantage of in a deal. It smarted because I had gotten screwed but it really hurt because I felt foolish, naive and inexperienced.If the deal was small enough then they actually did you a favor.because they don’t have enough real life experience.And ironically, that as we both know, both hurts and helps. It helps because you lack the common sense that comes from experience to avoid predictable problems. So you tend to take more chances and sometimes with those chances people get lucky.Let’s take Uber as one example. Can you imagine if the founders of Uber had relatives in the taxi business in NYC or Philly or anywhere? What do you think those relatives would have told them about the chance of pulling off an idea like that and making it work?Young people without experience will try things that older people won’t even attempt to try because those things are simply laced with to much potential failure and typically don’t work.And, as I like to say “if you have enough people trying enough things something might actually work”.

          3. JLM

            .Much truth to all that you say.One observation I make.Today there is the ability to model things in your brain and to see things from the dark side of the mirror. You can force yourself to consider the other view.I think this is the beginning of real wisdom, to challenge everything you think you “know” and consider the other view and see if it “just might work”.On the other hand, one has to be able to make decisions when not making a decision is, in fact, also a decision.We have to make tough decisions and make them work for us even when the issue is indicted by the underlying data.Let me take the recent Ferguson controversy.It is pretty damn clear that “hands up, don’t shoot” just didn’t happen. It is also clear that there is huge room for improvement on how the Ferguson PD conducts its business.Bad premise, good conversation.SBUX’s Howard Schultz’s initiative, at the helm of a public company, suggesting I should want to discuss race with a barista when I pick up my latte — goofy idea on so many levels but not a bad idea.Let’s have an intelligent conversation about race. Can I get that from a barista who is 24 years old while the rest of the line is waiting on their own caffeine dose?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. LE

            It is pretty damn clear that “hands up, don’t shoot” just didn’t happen. It is also clear that there is huge room for improvement on how the Ferguson PD conducts its business.There was a story the other day about a student on campus who was all bloodied (some drinking thing I’m sure you saw it) and the first thing the media trots out is a picture of him looking all tame and spiffy and the 2nd is to mention how he is some kind of honor student. As in “he’s not like THEM” and look at what happened!!! Meaning “surely this was race motivated”. Overlooking the fact that he was apparently, from the reporting, not following what the authority figure told him and maybe that’s why he got into trouble.And Wow. I had missed the story about Schultz I’m going to read that now.

      2. William Mougayar

        well, of course you can get inspired by another company’s culture, but in reality you end-up taking some aspects of it, but it’s like an artificial graft. If it’s not genuine and organically real, it will get rejected.

        1. LE

          Why is it not “organically real” just because you see someone else doing it and decide to copy it? I see it as very real. Copy != Fake. I guess I’m unclear on why you think that if someone starts a new VC firm (for example) and decides to copy Fred’s approach [1] that is less real than when Fred did it? After all Fred obviously learned from the people that he worked for, right? Their values and the way that they operate.I’m sure when Fred was a young VC the guys that he worked for hammered into him the mantra of having good business practices in order to build business.To be clear it would be nearly impossible to take an existing large organization and graft a culture on it. An example might be trying to make the US Postal service like UPS or Fedex.[1] Not to investing but the way he operates and what people think of him that got him his reputation and I don’t mean success reputation.

          1. William Mougayar

            I hear you. I think it’s ok to espouse a feature/value or two from someone else, as long as you deeply associate with them, and can make them look like yours too. You know when they say “you took that song, but made it yours”- I think that’s probably what we’re talking about.

    2. JLM

      .I respectfully disagree just a bit — any competitor can copy any aspect of Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values and, ultimately, Culture.The real question is — can they execute?Looking good, looking like you have game is easy to do but actually having game and executing is hard.Having said even that, I constantly coach CEOs up to be able to mine the best of the best as it relates to their companies and then to make it their own. To own it.Two enterprises can have virtually identical founding criteria but one will win in the marketplace because they get up a little earlier, stay a little later, work a little harder — because of the tiny incremental execution.I think it’s the passion of the leadership.Companies ultimately own culture, not CEOs. Huge impact on the values but not as much on the mature culture. Note the word “mature.”The CEO can put the initial raw materials in the pot, he can hold the whisk when it is initially stirred but ultimately it only works when the individuals and the company own it.I have done this and seen it done lots of times. When the company begins to instruct the CEO as to the culture — how it guides day to day execution — then you really have a culture.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. LE

        Two enterprises can have virtually identical founding criteria but one will win in the marketplace because they get up a little earlier, stay a little later, work a little harder — because of the tiny incremental execution.And they are willing to work on weekends as well, and that effort comes naturally, and they don’t whine and feel sorry for themselves.I think it’s the passion of the leadership.Similar to when medicine became a pot of gold we now have many people starting businesses because it’s the thing to do, not because they have an innate love of business and/or making money.See this thread on HN the other day:

      2. Richard

        I respectfully disagree just a bit 🙂 there a X factor (know a Millennial factor) too.

        1. JLM

          .You will have to give me a bit more, I am struggling to understand.Plus I am not as sensitive and cultured as Wm so you don’t have to be “respectful” and I like a finger in the eye from time to time. JKJLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      3. Matt Zagaja

        Agree with all of these except culture. Culture is miserably difficult to cultivate and shape. But maybe that is what you mean by execution.I also am strongly convinced basic principles of economics and biology make “working weekends” not worth it for most people. Productivity naturally declines as a function of time spent working. My bar exam course told us they studied the data doing randomized trials and the students that took weekends off from studying beat those that spent the whole week.Obviously don’t mean to suggest there is something special about Sunday or Saturday, you can take Tuesday and Wednesday off instead, but there is value to rest and switching modes. Or for the cyclists out there, in the Tour de France the winner does not spend the most of their time at the front of the peloton.

        1. JLM

          .You are over thinking it but you are also right.Let me answer the second part first. I founded a number of companies. I had come to business from the Army where I worked every single minute of every day. I sometimes didn’t really know what day it was. I was in my 20’s and could work like a rented mule.I brought this work ethic to business and I worked very hard by any measure. I liked working.With the benefit of hindsight, if you were not in the midst of the earliest stages of a startup, I would advise you to take every Friday off for the rest of your life. OFF!Here’s the secret: It would make no difference in the outcomes.Learn something cool like flying an airplane or paint your house or do wood work.We all get done the work that needs to get done in the allotted time. It took me about 25 years of CEOing to learn that.Also what we do that is “perfect” would work just fine if it were just “good.”We all spend a lot of time making good and perfect enemies when the world mostly can’t tell the difference. I wasn’t smart enough to know that earlier in my career.We also get wrapped in our underwear about glad v happy thinking they are different.We spend a lot of time chasing money when it turns out we still love the same breakfast tacos.As to culture, read what I have written here. It encapsulates my best thinking on it. I call it the Company Culture Series.There is no theory at work here. I did this for decades. It does work.http://themusingsofthebigre…I served in elite military units wherein we used to call it “esprit de corps” and measure mythical things like “unit morale” — all just culture in business terms. It is a very real consideration and one that any thinking person can get right.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Matt Zagaja

            Will check it out. Thanks!

          2. timraleigh

            “Also what we do that is “perfect” would work just fine if it were just “good.””Yes, but I am too insecure to leave well enough alone.”We spend a lot of time chasing money when it turns out we still love the same breakfast tacos.”So true. That and that everyone should/will retire.

          3. JLM

            .Like a lot of things — pistachio ice cream being one — it requires us to be “triers”. You can banish your insecurities by trying things a little different way.As to retirement, I don’t think you actually retire — you head in a little different direction, a personal inflection point. If that means abandoning things you formerly did, the YES it is retirement.You are going to live a lot longer than you expect after what the world has come to think of as retirement age. And you will likely be in better health.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. kev polonski

            “It would make no difference in the outcomes.” Especially, the eternal kind.Someone famous said, “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”

          5. JLM

            .Well played and a subject about which we should all spend more time thinking and acting upon.Well played!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      4. William Mougayar

        I think we’d largely agree though. Execution is everything, of course.

        1. JLM

          .Wm –We never really disagree in the end. We discuss. The ideas wrestle. Better ideas result.Stay well.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    3. Richard

      I hear this a lot, but 80% of what we purchase has little to do with the values of the company. Rather, it is the product and experience.

      1. Joe Cardillo

        Won’t speak for William, but I do think the product and experience often reflect the values and culture of a company. How much depends a lot on what you’re selling. If you’re doing the marketplace / collaborative economy thing (which comes up a lot here on AVC), then the platform & process you build or implement is very reliant on values. I did ops for a design marketplace, and the matching, project communication, and finance aspect of the platform were often in tension due to the underlying values e.g. how do we reward our most senior creatives? What if some of the newest creatives are also the most talented? Who gets the best projects / highest rates? And so on. It’s hard to deal with those sorts of things in a vacuum and values definitely came into play in my experience there.

        1. William Mougayar

          well, experience is key, yes. (see my answer to Rich also)

          1. Joe Cardillo

            Got it. Yep agree, especially re: trust

      2. William Mougayar

        I would say the experience and loyalty are not easily copiable. But the product itself might be. Trust is another factor. Do you trust Samsung or Sony to design quality products in the same way that you trust Apple to do the same for example?

    4. awaldstein

      You really believe that 50% of the people who support projects on KS have any idea of the company as a company?They have a really great brand but that brand comes more from the the quality of the projects than any corporate philosophy or value outside of the projects that we support. Or so I believer.There is a tiny tiny group of users who have any idea who the CEO is or who funded them.Projects are great. Marketing engine superb. Close rate appears high.This is the mass market. It doesn’t play by tech market rules.

      1. JLM

        .Don’t you think that most of the KS backers are really not “investors” but plungers. I know when I do that’s my behavior.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. awaldstein


      2. William Mougayar

        Each project is curated by KS, therefore they “know” their customers, and their customers learn about them. They sometimes reject projects that don’t fit. Not sure what you mean by “tech market rules”; brand, values, culture apply across the board, no?

        1. awaldstein

          Agree–KS has a strong brand although the brand is focused nicely on the quality of the products brokered not the platform itself.Although I believe it is changing in the mass food business, for the most part the cultural pedigree of the products we buy touches us very little.You know the story behind the jeans that you buy, the wages that are paid and the the water waisted to stone wash them? I sure don’t.This extends across most categories.It’s changing as the breadth of the artisanal markets deepen but the big ticket items we all buy are usually beyond the pale of our cultural beliefs.

      3. george

        I think the magnitude of having the right culture is very important to success – it’s the underlying force that cultivates a company to build a great brand, develop more desired products and/or consistently deliver on the promise of getting better.

        1. awaldstein

          Nicely articulated.I think of it somewhat differently after a career of building brands and companies.The core value, the ore brand starts early, usually with the drive from the passion that starts it all.Culture come later and is the executional dynamic that makes the brand possible to share and develop and expand.

  5. Matt A. Myers

    The Kickstarter culture feels similar to Wattpad in the level of passion. I imagine it’s easier when there’s a more specific context, a more narrow channel for passion/energy to be focused into – which is amplified based on each person in the team’s interest in the platform or service.One thing recently Anastasia and I did was started to watch Small Empires (first with Wattpad’s episode; thanks for posting) and my other favourite was on Squarespace.Something that sits with me constantly is Anthony Casalena (Squarespace’s founder) realizing that the mistakes he was making with hiring were because he was under pressure and stressed out. Since not trying to pressure myself to find the perfect initial dev team, I am allowing myself to continue to work how I have been – which has been working and we’re still moving at a good pace – working on partnerships, building relationships with potential investors, refining roadmap, etc..I imagine the benefits of culture really start to amplify once you’re in a place that you have flexibility hiring wise that you can really pull in the greatest people.

    1. fredwilson

      speaking of wattpad…

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Nice! They’re killing it. Anastasia and I met with Eva a month or so ago. She’s so lovely and insightful.

  6. Brandon Burns

    Yancey settled Monday’s “who should be allowed to use Kickstarter” debate with three simple words: Kickstarter loves everybody.

  7. Richard

    Does the KS support follow a Pareto Principal where 80% of the total $ support comes from (less than) 20% of the givers?

  8. Tom Labus

    Just a wonderfful conversation. Thanks. Jason, you’re tech’s Boswell.

  9. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I’ve been funding independent comics and toys on KS these days. A couple of favorites:https://www.kickstarter.com…It is SO wonderful for helping products I believe in actually come to fruition. These two projects (and others like it that I’ve funded) may likely have not been around today if it weren’t for Kickstarter.

  10. Douglas Crets

    I’m right in the middle of writing a launch strategy and a marketing strategy for a project that deals with Asia’s and China’s media entrepreneurs. And as i was thinking about marketing strategy and how to write this, I realized that we now live in this four-dimensional world where marketing is not a separate entity that runs on language and execution and publishing watering holes. It’s more like this headspace that William points out. IT’s dealing with cultures and values, and people with specific cultures and values are migrating to watering holes on the web that are huge networks of value for those people. It’s almost like the narrow is so deep these days, and not vast and wide and scattered. There is more power in a strongly banded tribe than there is in a popular website I think.Meaning: when I am thinking about launching this project, I am thinking about people, what they stand for, and where they congregate becuse they stand for something. Kickstarter created not just a place to launch a product. It created a platform upon which you can have your values validated through your own or someone you admire’s financial and logistical success. That’s so much better, isn’t it? You can validate someone by truly validating them. Truly helping them. I think there’s probably nothing more amazing than that right now.

  11. JAS

    I have a question I’ve been seeking an answer to for some time now and I simply cannot discern what’s legal and what’s not; is it legal to compensate employees of a startup with equity only? Because based on the FLSA, it would not be since its required that a salary be at least $455 a week or $7.25 an hour wage. How does this work?? Off topic entirely, I know, but if someone could please help on this I would greatly appreciate it!

    1. JAS

      any information on this??

  12. Rajiv Jha