3 min read

Kickstarter wants to become a blockchain company, but it also wants your approval

"The environmental issues, scams, speculation, and risks are real, and we share these concerns."

Kickstarter wants to become a blockchain company, but not without your blessing.

Last year, the company outlined plans to reshape its crowdfunding business by using blockchain technology to create a "decentralised crowdfunding protocol" that would allow anybody to launch and fund projects anywhere on the web.

According to Kickstarter, that protocol would live on Celo -- a carbon-negative, public blockchain -- and be open-source for people around the world to "build upon, connect to, or use."

Given the warranted skepticism that seems to accompany most blockchain initiatives -- largely due to their propensity towards environmental damage and speculative spending -- some onlookers were taken aback by the company's pivot.

Now, Kickstarter has seemingly cooled its interest in the technology and acknowledged it needs to at least consider those concerns before pushing ahead with its plans.

"Since our announcement, we've had thousands of conversations with our community over emails, support tickets, social posts, and Zoom calls to understand your concerns about these technologies. The environmental issues, scams, speculation, and risks are real, and we share these concerns," said the company.

"These new technologies are tools that are only as good as what they're used to build. It’s our responsibility to make sure they serve creators, backers, and the entire creative ecosystem, and that we are designing thoughtfully with full awareness of the challenges.

"It's clear to us now though that before we do anything else, we need to listen to your feedback so that we can better address your concerns."

What does that mean in practice? Well, Kickstarter says it won't implement its new blockchain protocol unless it has been tested, adding that creators and communities won't be automatically shifted onto the new infrastructure.

The company also pledged to establish an advisory council comprising a diverse range of Kickstarter users to inform its next steps, and said any new organization would be a Public Benefit corporation, meaning the protocol will be separate from Kickstarter and "develop its own clear mission and guiding charter."

Finally, the company committed to limiting its environmental impact, and said it will hold the new protocol to the standards set out in its own PBC charter.

"We’re not going to force this [change] on creators and communities for whom Kickstarter is already working well. We’re not going to automatically shift all of Kickstarter to a new infrastructure," continued the company.

"We’ll never put your livelihoods at risk by making you try something untested. We’re going to invest in experimenting, by supporting an independent organization in its effort to build new infrastructure that has the potential to serve more of the creative communities who aren’t fully served by crowdfunding today.

"We’ll make sure there’s a proof of concept with the creators who want to use it. We’ll look to integrate the pieces that offer value to the larger community down the line, but not without your input shaping the direction."

To reiterate, then, Kickstarter doesn't intend to scrap its blockchain plans, but rather hopes to ensure the polarizing technology is ushered in "thoughtfully with full awareness of the challenges." You can learn more about the new Kickstater protocol on the company blog.

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