Kickstarter has long contested the idea that its crowdfunding platform is a marketplace. It’s supposed to be used to support artistic endeavors; everything else is just a byproduct of the platform’s willingness to host essentially anything imaginable, not its founding purpose. But that idea has always been indefensible, especially with gadgets like the Pebble smartwatch or the OUYA videogame console remaining the most well-funded projects on the entire platform.
That holds true even now that the Pebble smartwatch’s $10.2 million project is no longer the most well-funded project on the platform. That honor now belongs to the Coolest, a cooler that comes equipped with a blender, a Bluetooth speaker, and numerous USB ports that has raised more than $10.4 million on Kickstarter since it was first posted to the platform earlier this year.
Coolest isn’t a gadget in the same way that the Pebble smartwatch is, but it’s still a tech project. (If you’re looking for guidelines on what constitutes a “tech project,” the presence of USB ports and features that require Bluetooth are a pretty good place to start.) And people are still using Kickstarter as a glorified pre-order platform: a vast majority of “pledges” to the project will net someone a Coolest, and even more will give them other swag, like a shirt or reusable party cup.
It’s interesting to see Pebble removed from its throne atop a heap of other projects, but it would have been better for Kickstarter’s argument if the project doing the dethroning wasn’t a gadget. Then perhaps the company could have proved that its platform, which has entered the public’s awareness but is still dominated by these gadget-related projects, is more than just a storefront.
Or maybe that isn’t as much of a problem for the company as it once was. Hell, it’s already loosened its previously-strict guidelines on what should be allowed onto its platform, which has led to a $55,000 project to make a bowl of potato salad and all kinds of other strange projects. Perhaps it’s also removed the artistic albatross from around its neck and embraced the revenue that can be drawn from allowing tech projects to use its platform to solicit some cheap capital.