On apples, oranges, and crowdfunding platforms: Indiegogo's recent growth highlights the difference between it and Kickstarter
Indiegogo, the crowdfunding platform founded
two years before one year after media darling Kickstarter, is today revealing its growth over the last few years. The typically tight-lipped company revealed this information exclusively to PandoDaily after disputing data used to create an infographic comparing the two platforms that relied on Kickstarter's public statistics and third-party information about Indiegogo's platform. (Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.)
Slava Rubin, the company's co-founder and chief executive, says that Indiegogo has now managed more than 150,000 projects and is hosting another 7,000 each week. That's more than the 4,374 live projects Kickstarter reports on its website, though that doesn't account for the discrepancy between the number of countries in which both companies operate. Indiegogo allows anyone from some 200 countries to create a campaign; Kickstarter only allows approved projects from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand onto its site.
That discrepancy highlights the differences between Indiegogo and Kickstarter. The former is focused on allowing anyone to raise any amount of money from anywhere in the world; the latter is focused on creating a highly-curated platform that allows a select few to raise money from their fans. This focus has led to rapid international growth on Indiegogo's part, as Rubin says that the company is now distributing funds to between 70 and 100 countries each month; seen its transaction volume outside of the US triple over the last year; and transferred money to some 190 countries since its launch.
While the numbers themselves are news, their meaning -- that Indiegogo and Kickstarter aren't quite the competitors some might think -- is not. As we noted in the revised introduction to our infographic:
We will grant Indiegogo that it and Kickstarter, while both crowdfunding modules, have different models. Indiegogo accepts anybody. Kickstarter does not. Indiegogo gives campaigns the option of keeping all of the money if they miss their goal. Kickstarter does not. So yes, while Lau and Junprung’s data may paint a picture of Kickstarter dominance, it’s also not an apples-to-apples comparison.Have high-profile Kickstarter projects raised more than similar projects on Indiegogo? Absolutely. Does Indiegogo's willingness to open its platform for nearly anything, whether it's a state-of-the-art smartphone or a campaign to send an abused bus monitor on a vacation, allow the company's service to be used for a wider variety of purposes than Kickstarter? Definitely. These services both have their own strengths and weaknesses, and there's no reason that they can't co-exist.
Perhaps that is the greatest lesson to be learned from Indiegogo's revelations. The company has declined to reveal much about itself -- using percentages to describe growth is a fickle, easily abused trick -- and much of what it has revealed won't stifle criticism of the service. These numbers are only useful insofar as their ability to lend further credence to the idea that comparing Indiegogo and Kickstarter simply because both operate crowdfunding platforms is as ludicrous as comparing apples and oranges simply because both grow on trees.
[Update: This post originally stated that Indiegogo was founded two years before Kickstarter; it was actually founded a year after, though it launched earlier. The post has been updated to correct this error.]
[Illustration by Hallie Bateman for Pandodaily]