Perry Chen provided the original idea for the crowd-funding Web site Kickstarter. He then founded the company with Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler. Yancey Strickler is currently CEO. Yancey served as Kickstarter’s Head of Community and Head of Communications before becoming CEO. Prior to Kickstarter, he was a music journalist whose writing appeared in The Village Voice, New York magazine, Pitchfork, and other publications.
Chen worked a series of low-paying jobs before having the idea that changed his life. At the time of his personal revelation, Chen had been trying to raise money to throw a concert in New Orleans. Though he was unable to realize his goal at the time, Chen wondered what would have happened if he had been able to raise the money online instead of locally. This developed into an idea for a Web site on which consumers could collectively fund projects or products through donations. It would be capitalism in its purist form: consumers speaking with their wallets. Chen spoke with his associates Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler, and they decided to launch the site. They named their crowd-funding project Kickstarter. The specific plan for Kickstarter was to provide a platform for projects and products to be funded without the involvement of large corporations. An approved project would ask for a specified amount of donations, which would be pledged by individual donors. The funds would only be collected if the project reached its fund-raising goal. To support itself, Kickstarter would take 5 percent of the money raised for all successful projects. Originally, Chen and his associates turned to family and friends to finance their Internet start-up. However, they quickly garnered the attention of venture capitalist firms and several wealthy executives, earning themselves $10 million in investments. Success followed in much the same way. The first approved Kickstarter project was small–a simple commissioned drawing that raised $35 dollars. Larger projects quickly followed. The most notable of these early projects was the Pebble watch, a small digital watch with an E-ink screen that is capable of being loaded with third-party applications. Chen was named one of Time‘s 100 most influential people in the world in 2013 and one of the 12 most disruptive names in business by Forbes Magazine that same year.
Since its launch in April 2009, more than 5.8 million people have pledged over $1 billion to projects on Kickstarter. The projects funded come from across the creative spectrum — everything from films, video games, and food trucks, to albums, product design, and comics.