Kickstarter’s CEO stepping down in April

In a blog post today titled “Moving Forward, With Gratitude,” Kickstarter CEO Aziz Hasan announced that he is stepping down from his leadership role at the crowdfunding platform. After three years, April 4 will be his final day as chief executive. In his stead, the company’s COO Sean Leow will fill the role as interim CEO as the company’s board of directors searches for a more permanent replacement.

“I am so proud of the work we’ve done together,” Hasan writes. “Leading such a passionate, skilled, and dedicated team through intense moments of change, milestone victories, and complex challenges has been a humbling and rewarding experience.”

The executive spoke with Fast Company about the decision, citing “personal reflection” as a motivator, as well as a desire to spend more time with his young family. As Hasan notes, his tenure has seen strong growth for the service, though the last several years have also had their share of controversy.

In 2020, Kickstarter staff voted to unionize, a move Hasan had referred to as “inherently adversarial” in a letter to staff, adding,

That dynamic doesn’t reflect who we are as a company, how we interact, how we make decisions, or where we need to go. We believe that in many ways it would set us back, and that the us vs. them binary already has.

More recently, it courted backlash among creators with plans to move its services to the blockchain. Amid fierce criticism, Kickstarter promised to listen to user feedback to “better address [ … ] concerns.”

Leow highlighted Hasan’s accomplishments in a statement,

Aziz poured so much of his creative spirit and expertise into Kickstarter over the past 3 years as CEO. We deeply appreciate his contributions and look forward to building on them as we aim to grow the number of creative projects that come to life. As a die-hard believer in the power of creative projects, I am committed to keep Kickstarter moving in the right direction as we search for our next leader.

Co-founder and former CEO Perry Chen echoed the sentiment, noting,

Aziz Hasan took over leadership of Kickstarter at a critical moment for the company, providing a thoughtful and steady hand throughout his tenure, including historic funding milestones for creative projects and navigating the many challenges of a global pandemic. While we search for the future CEO of Kickstarter, we are very fortunate to have Sean Leow leading the company. Sean has consistently led many of the company’s most important initiatives throughout his long tenure at Kickstarter and brings a deep expertise and passion for helping creative projects come to life.

Before joining Kickstarter, Leow was employed by Facebook and co-founded social media art site, Neocha.