About ninety-five percent of the projects on Kickstarter are non-industrial: movies, video games, food products. For the five percent that comprise the technology and design categories, the open nature of crowdfunding can create flurries of agita usually hidden behind the curtain of private investing and venture capital.
It came out last week that star Kickstarter project Pebble – the highest raiser on the site – had failed to ship their 85,000 e-paper watches on time to their donors/customers, without any explanation or new expected ship date.
This prompted a little party in the “Comments” section, now at over 8,000 remarks, on everything from comments on features (“PLEASE! PLEASE! Make sure that the point of connection to charge the phone is stabilized & hardened,”) to dyes and paint, and suggestions that the company perhaps transfer operations to Mexico.
For the more furious Pebble backers, there is no redress for their average $148 donation, at least until the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission starts regulating crowdfunding at the end of this year.
“I don’t think anyone has ever cooked on the TED stage before,” said Bi-Rite Market founder Sam Mogannam, standing before a cart overflowing with heirloom tomatoes, rustic bread, and a massive chunk of Reggiano, about to make a demonstration salad in front of an audience at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts last Saturday.
Growing up a child of grocers and on visits to his Palestinian grandparents in Bethlehem, “I realized that food was life, that as my mother fed us she was loving us,” he said, grinning and laughing as he tore up the lettuce and chopped tomatoes. “When I cook for someone, I get to pick the ingredients for something you put in your mouth. This is about as close you can get to another person without having sex with them.”
Mogannam’s giddy joy illuminated his TEDx talk last Saturday at the “Re-Inventing Capitalism” event sponsored by the Presidio School of Management. Mogannam’s grocery store, catering business, creamery, farms, and community center in San Francisco’s Mission District swear by local sourcing, fair trade, sustainable food, and the idea that food is supposed to bind a place together.
“There are two distinct financial systems in this country,” said San Francisco Treasurer José Cisneros to the crowd at TEDx Presidio, Sat. Sept. 8. “There’s the mainstream, and there’s the system for the financial fringe.” Over the last few years, San Francisco’s Office of Financial Empowerment, started by Cisneros, has enrolled thousands in programs to bring poor San Franciscans from one to the other…taking on inequality in financial services years before it was cool.
Cisneros, standing on stage at the Palace of Fine Arts and addressing the Presidio Graduate School’s 2012 TEDx theme “Re-Inventing Capitalism,” said his office had reconfigured the city’s financial services industry in order to relieve poverty, conducting educational campaigns and moving residents away from payday loans and check cashing places to open savings and checking accounts.