Culture Kickstarter hires investigative journalist to look into Zano's failed drone project

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,033   +150
Staff member

The Zano nano drone was one of the top 20 most-funded Kickstarter campaigns in history, pulling in over $3.5 million in pledges from more than 12,000 backers. If you read the Kickstarter story I wrote late last month, you already know that Zano is one of two high-profile campaigns that have fallen on hard times.

In the case of Zano, the project has folded completely after shipping just 600 of the 15,000 nano drones promised to backers. Those left empty-handed will be happy to hear that Kickstarter is now looking into the matter (although you probably aren't getting your money back).

The site has hired investigative journalist Mark Harris to help backers of the project understand what exactly happened that led to the project's failure -- Harris announced as much in a recent post on Medium. The piece will cover the story of Zano from start to finish and will be published perhaps by mid-January.

Harris said he also aims to answer whether the project's creators could have done anything differently to avoid the unfortunate outcome or if there's anything that future Kickstarter projects can avoid. What's more, the journalist will be looking into Kickstarter's role in the project to determine if it could have better served Zano's creators or backers.

Regardless of what Harris uncovers, it can only be seen as a good thing that Kickstarter is looking into the matter. If it genuinely wants to help prevent similar occurrences, the best way to do so is to study those that have failed.

Also read:

Permalink to story.

 

Camikazi

Posts: 982   +339
$3.5 million and 15,000 backers that is about $231 per person... wish I could get people to give me $231 each.
 
I consider myself fortunate that I only backed one campaign on Kickstarter and only lost $100. I had no idea the people starting campaigns could have absolutely no idea how to actually make the product they're advertising. I was sucked in by a cool video, it looked like a prototype. Delivery was promised in 3 months, two years later I had the product, which did not work as advertised and I ended up throwing it out. I've seen other items on Kickstarter that look really cool but I'll never fund another campaign. If the product actually gets to market (Kickstarter, what percentage of your campaigns actually achieve this milestone?) I'll buy it then. Kickstarter has no controls in place to make sure campaigns are making realistic promises. Backer beware.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,472   +6,252
I consider myself fortunate that I only backed one campaign on Kickstarter and only lost $100. I had no idea the people starting campaigns could have absolutely no idea how to actually make the product they're advertising. I was sucked in by a cool video, it looked like a prototype. Delivery was promised in 3 months, two years later I had the product, which did not work as advertised and I ended up throwing it out. I've seen other items on Kickstarter that look really cool but I'll never fund another campaign. If the product actually gets to market (Kickstarter, what percentage of your campaigns actually achieve this milestone?) I'll buy it then. Kickstarter has no controls in place to make sure campaigns are making realistic promises. Backer beware.
Absolutely, backer beware. Backers are, essentially, venture capitalists. There is no guarantee that any project will succeed. Even those who are truly honest in their attempts to bring a product to market may run into unforeseen problems with commercialization. Having worked in a couple of R&D departments of rather large companies, I've seen at least one spectacular failure that was on the order of $250 million US. Failure, for kickstarter projects, should not be unexpected.
 

VitalyT

Posts: 6,171   +6,653
Just for a moment there, I thought... - women, drinking, debauchery...

hqdefault.jpg
 
$3.5 million and 15,000 backers that is about $231 per person... wish I could get people to give me $231 each.
Yes, except as I'm sure you're more than aware of, there are different tiers of donations ($5, $10, $50, etc). That would be extremely unfair if someone donated $231 towards the kickstarter and someone else only donated $20, but the return is split between the two. None the less, it's unfortunate that it happened.
 
On the other hand, I've backed over 250 campaigns on Kickstarter, and have 3 that haven't fulfilled what I was wanting to get. Not fulfilling is actually pretty uncommon (around 9% of the projects don't), and you can generally get an idea of what to avoid if you pay much attention. That said, hardly any of them deliver on time, because nearly all of the projects are started by people who don't have actual production experience, or who expect a project to have ~100 backers, and it ends up having 10,000, which is a logistics nightmare. It's not for everyone, but you can get some really cool stuff from it.
 

umbala

Posts: 603   +1,007
I don't understand this whole Kickstarter phenomenon. Maybe I'm just stupid. It seems to me that Kickstarter is a platform for people to take your money for their pie-in-the-sky ideas, and neither Kickstarter nor the people who took your money can be held responsible in any shape or form if things don't pan out. Most people on Kickstarter do have great ideas, I'll give them that. On the other hand, they have absolutely no idea about the logistics involved in developing, manufacturing, and marketing a product. It also seems to me that the chances of a Kickstarter venture succeeding is inversely proportional to its complexity or "cool factor".
 

Camikazi

Posts: 982   +339
Yes, except as I'm sure you're more than aware of, there are different tiers of donations ($5, $10, $50, etc). That would be extremely unfair if someone donated $231 towards the kickstarter and someone else only donated $20, but the return is split between the two. None the less, it's unfortunate that it happened.
I was averaging since I know there are tiers but I don't know specific numbers.
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,837   +3,597
TechSpot Elite
It also seems to me that the chances of a Kickstarter venture succeeding is inversely proportional to its complexity or "cool factor".
Yup, sometimes a fool is easily parted with his money ;P

But seriously, sometimes people don't look beyond the front page (which is meant to sell the potential of the product so you back it). But some other times you recognize a reputable name and can guess that they'll made do on their promises.. eventually lol