Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter is making a big bet on the blockchain, announcing plans to create an open source protocol “that will essentially create a decentralized version of Kickstarter’s core functionality.” The company says the goal is for multiple platforms to embrace the protocol, including, eventually, Kickstarter.com.
Kickstarter is launching a new organization, the name of which has yet to be determined, which will begin development of the protocol. Kickstarter is funding the project, appointing an initial board for the organization and committing to be one of the first platforms on the protocol, though no specific timelines were offered for when such a transition might take place. The company also announced that they’re establishing an “independent governance lab,” which will publish research and engage with the community on the topic of protocol governance.
It’s an interesting path for Kickstarter, which already shares some philosophical DNA with blockchain products allowing consumers to support projects and build up a community around them while taking a stake in the success of those products. While the “stake” in Kickstarter’s model has been a completed physical or digital product, newer blockchain crowdfunding platforms are upending that model by giving users tokens tied to the projects which can accrue in value as the product matures. Some of these efforts are questionably legal, but there are endless ways to obfuscate what exactly is being bought and sold by users.
For the time being it seems Kickstarter is aiming to proceed slowly in terms of how the protocol will impact the user experience. “As a user, the Kickstarter experience you’re familiar with will stay the same. You won’t ‘see’ the protocol, but you will benefit from its improvements,” a blog post from the company reads.
While web3 technologies have driven major excitement among technologists and amateur and professional investors alike, plenty of mainstream users still have hangups with the technology due to controversy around energy usage of some of the more popular networks, including Bitcoin and Ethereum. Kickstarter is aiming to sidestep these concerns by placing their new vertical on the Celo blockchain, which uses a less energy-intensive consensus mechanism that the team behind it bills as “carbon negative.” Other than highlighting that the protocol will leverage Celo, Kickstarter didn’t offer too many specifics about how it envisions Kickstarter PBC’s work developing in the near or far term.
Kickstarter isn’t the only “traditional” tech giant looking to develop an open source protocol that their own platform will eventually adopt; Twitter has been working on bluesky, an effort to develop a decentralized social media protocol.