Investigator finds that Zano's Kickstarter failure was "due to incompetence rather than malice"

By midian182 ยท 9 replies
Jan 21, 2016
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  1. Last month, it was reported that Kickstarter had hired an investigative journalist to find out why Europe’s biggest project on the crowdfunding site, the Zano mini-drone, became one of the its biggest failures after the whole thing suddenly collapsed. Six weeks later, Mark Harris has published a 13,000-word report on Medium detailing his findings, and it seems that it was all due to incompetence rather than fraud.

    Zano’s Kickstarter promised an autonomous, intelligent, developable drone that would be ultra-portable and capable of ariel photography and HD video capture. It was these exaggerated promises that persuaded over 12,000 backers to pledge more than £2.3 million ($3.25 million) to the project.

    In the end, just 600 of the 15,000 drones promised to backers were shipped. Those who did receive their units claimed they lacked many of the features promised in the Kickstarter campaign. The camera quality was terrible, the autonomous flight was missing, and they could barely fly. In fact, some couldn’t fly at all - a pretty important function for a drone.

    Torquing, the company behind Zano, eventually filed for bankruptcy and the incident proved to be some very bad publicity for Kickstarter. Backers lost their money, thousands of people were never going to get their drones, and those who had received drones lost the use of them when Torquing’s servers went offline.

    This disaster prompted Kickstarter to hire Harris in order to discover what went wrong and to find out if the whole thing was a scam. His report goes into a stunning level of detail, but he concluded that: "Torquing's directors managed their business poorly and spent the Kickstarter money too freely, but I've found no evidence that any of them ended up rich on the backs of the crowd."

    Ultimately, Torquing didn’t have the skills or resources to meet expectations. The company also had a "dangerous lack of self-awareness" and didn’t realize that everything was falling apart until it was too late. Harris also said that these “small businesspeople who bit off more than they could chew” had no idea how to keep their budget in check.

    Even though Kickstarter funded Harris’ investigation, the reporter said that the site isn’t without blame for the incident. He suggested that all crowdfunding sites should keep a closer check on projects to avoid failures of this magnitude occurring in the future.

    “There should be better mechanisms to identify weak projects before they fund, as well as new processes to provide mentorship, support and expert advice to newly-funded projects.”

    As the report points out, the entire fiasco should remind people that backing projects on crowdfunding sites often come with risks. "If you want 100% success with hardware and new products, I think the only solution is that you just shop on Amazon," Harris wrote.

    Permalink to story.

  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,671   +1,961

    Lesson to be learned - it is impossible to figure out from the marketing campaign whether the people behind the idea are in fact complete muppets.
  3. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,038   +2,558

    Zano probably paid off the investigator with the crowd's money.

    A fail is a fail. And as for the issue "not being malice but incompetence", they sure were competent enough at running their mouths begging for money.

    For some insight, google "Irish Travelers".
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
    Capaill likes this.
  4. Kevin Kessler

    Kevin Kessler TS Rookie

    I'm a sucker from another failed Kickstarter. From someone who looked totally legit selling 3D printers from an existing business, Shapingbits, 42 backers spent about $2K each for what looked like a very nice printer. He claimed he shipped about 40% of the printers in November but since then, total silence from the "Creator", Bogdan Diaconescu. It turns out that only about 4 printers have been shipped, and no-one can contact this joker.

    Moral of the story, stay away from Kickstarter, it is a haven for fraud.
  5. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    If you're desperate to chuck your money away then Kickstarter is a good place to look, Las Vegas is also a good alternative.
  6. feathers632

    feathers632 TS Member Posts: 59   +14

    "probably" is a guess which has a 50/50 chance of being false. Just because something is in your head doesn't mean it represents the truth. It's a pretty dumb statement to make.
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,038   +2,558

    Well, I sure am glad you stopped by to critique my work..(y) Not really, but I expect you'll lap that platitude up.

    It's really naive to assume any human is totally innocent of wrongdoing. That's why the Catholic Church has a little money maker of their own, it's called the "confessional". Once upon a time, you could even buy your way out of Purgatory. Which oddly parallels what Kickstarter has seemingly done with this mess..:oops:

    A lot of what I've seen come out of kickstarter amounts to harebrained schemes hatched by mental defectives, who have deluded themselves into believing their idea is a good one. In a clinical sense, this is also symptomatic of being a pathological liar. Pathologues make the best preachers. And preachers make great money collectors. See how that works?

    OK, Kickstarter hires a PI to figure out what went wrong with this endeavor. The investigator comes back and says, "they were merely incompetent, not malicious. The upshot of which is getting Kickstarter off the hook for hosting fraudulent endeavors. So, Kickstarter manages to sidestep the issue of people collecting tens of thousands of dollars and giving nothing in return. Well now, you just can't pay for publicity that good, or can you?

    Boo, hoo, "They meant well", is that the s*** you'd have me believe?

    But, I suppose it also could have been Kickstarter that paid to have the debacle whitewashed, "for the greater good"...:oops:

    So, instead of worrying what I publish in the op-ed section of the forum, you should hit the ATM, then quick run over Kickstarter and buy yourself a 3D printer. "(y)" You don't want to be wasting your time arguing with me when you could be out getting in on the ground floor of something big, now do ya?
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2016
  8. feathers632

    feathers632 TS Member Posts: 59   +14

    I wasn't referring to any wrongdoing. The dumb part of your statement was that the investigator may have been bribed. That's just brainless bollocks.
  9. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,038   +2,558

    If we were to allow a bit of latitude for the concept that Kickstarter itself hired the investigator,and said investigator came up with a conclusion which absolves them of any wrongdoing, while allowing them to continue to be viewed in a favorable light, the price of his wages constitutes a bribe in and of themselves.

    I'm sorry you don't agree with my assessment. But I'm also abundantly disinterested in your conclusions about it.

    The case in point is the same crap you always see on the evening news' "investigative reports", about the crooked contractor. "He said he was going to replace all the windows in our house for $10,000, He changed one, and then told us we would have to give him more money as his costs have gone up. We've been unable to get a hold of him for two months now, and our phone calls haven't been returned".

    Substitute "3D printer, "jewel warmer", or whatever you like for "windows", and you come up with this situation at Kickstarter.

    It's a whitewashing, plain and simple. If Kickstarter becomes untrustworthy in the public eye, they go under. Hence a report that leaves them smelling like a rose. I'm going to stick with my assessment of a crooked project and a cover up. Final answer.
  10. tonylukac

    tonylukac TS Evangelist Posts: 1,374   +69

    No, it was failure due to incontinence, not incompetence.

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