De facto crowdfunding kingpin Kickstarter has put out a set of performance stats for the year just gone. If you’re curious about what success in a very crowded space looks like here’s the skinny…
Kickstarter said 2013 saw three million people pledging $480 million to projects being pitched on its website. It further slices down its 2013 grand total to $1,315,520 pledged per day or $913 per minute (although, of course, that’s fictionalised velocity so don’t go imagining 913 dollars being steadily hovered up by the site every minute of the year; reality is far more spiky).
In terms of successful projects, the figure sounds surprisingly modest in comparison to the dollar pledge total: Kickstarter said 19,911 projects were successfully funded in 2013. But of course dollars pledged aren’t necessarily dollars spent; that depends if the backed project hit its target or not.
To put Kickstarter’s 2013 performance in context, its users pledged a total of $320 million in 2012, and just shy of $100 million in 2011 — so it’s continuing to grow the size of the crowdfunding pledge pie, albeit by a smaller amount than it bulked up between 2011 and 2012.
There may be a few things calming down pledge growth — such as increased competition in the crowdfunding space, with more and more rivals joining the fund-it-yourself party and vying for backers’ pledges.
There are also more crowdfunding projects competing with each other to be backed — so the overall success of the category means, as a channel, it’s increasingly competing with itself. And that may be diluting how much backers end up spending — not least because the number of Kickstarter backers also isn’t growing as once it was.
Kickstarter’s three million backers in 2013 figure is up on the 2.24 million it reported for 2012, and the more than one million reported in 2011, but again the figure grew less in 2012 to 2013 than it did in 2011 to 2012.
In terms of successful projects, 2013’s total is also better than the past two years but again there is clear evidence of a slow down in growth, with 2012 yielding 18,109 successful projects vs 11,836 in 2011. Kickstarter has not been able to repeat the bumper leap it got between 2011 and 2012, but is at least continuing to grow the number of projects that fly, based on 2013’s performance.
Some crowdfunding fatigue is inevitable as the overall channel matures, as a funding pipe, losing the gloss of newness and shiny excitement associated with it. Crowdfunding projects that don’t live up to people’s hopes, or end up delayed (or don’t deliver at all) are also likely to inject some reality checking to what crowdfunding means in practice.
Still, 2013’s Kickstarter was still a bigger beast than 2012’s and the year before. And it will be interesting to see how the site performs this year — with more competition than ever and fewer wide-eyed ingénues willing to open their wallets.