Samstag, 15. Juni 2013

Ethical Questions

Design to Matter (D2M) raised a staggering $621,000 for the Instacube in the fall of 2012. The cube-shaped digital picture display promised backers Facebook and Instagram integration. The device rotates through pictures from those social media accounts automatically. The campaign was widely covered, garnering press in Engadget, Mashable, CNET, CNNMoney, etc.

Units were listed with an expected delivery date of March of 2013. They have yet to ship, driving some backers to criticize the company and demand refunds in the comments section of the Instacube’s Kickstarter campaign page.

2 months seems like a long time, but in the world of crowdfunded hardware 2 months of lateness hardly raises a red flag. Kickstarter projects ship late all the time, but does that lateness constitute failure? Our own JD Alois proposes that it does not. I tend to agree with that assertion.

Things get a little more interesting when you examine the Indiegogo campaign for Stratus by Zuvo Water, which was just barely fully funded in March of this year. The product is also listed onD2M’s web site.

Zuvo is technically a separate entity from D2M, but the Stratus campaign page explains the partnership…

Zuvo has been working for the last year with one of the leading Silicon Valley design firms, D2M, who also created the crowdfunding sensation Instacube.D2M designed and tested STRATUS and created a full range of innovatively designed and styled, intelligent faucetsFaucets will be available in Bamboo and Acacia tri-flow and Hibiscus beverage faucet styles in chrome, brushed nickel and oil-rubbed-bronze finishes.

The questions that remain are ethical ones…

  • Did backers of the Stratus campaign deserve to know that another project involving D2M was behind schedule?
  • Is the explanation above misleading in not explaining that the Instacube hadn’t actually shipped yet?
  • Did D2M know in mid-March that the Instacube wouldn’t ship on time?

This also raises a larger question in the highly protective crowdfunding space regarding whether or not platforms should be sharing information to prevent companies from participating in ways that do not adhere to the ethos of the space.

In this case both campaigns are now late, and backers of the Stratus couldn’t have had any idea about timeline issues surrounding the Instacube because the Instacube was scheduled to ship just as the Stratus was set to finish funding.

I reached out to D2M this week but have received no response.

What do you think? Should companies be allowed to participate in two rewards-based offerings at once? Should platforms take more responsibility to make sure this doesn’t happen industry-wide? The Full Story

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