Pebble Time’s $20M Kickstarter Campaign By The Numbers

29 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Pebble Time Shows Us Just How Much Crowdfunding Has Changed.

Pebble went back to crowdfunding site Kickstarter to help fund the Pebble Time, its second major hardware iteration. It’s no exploding kitten, nor is it a new space-based massively multiplayer online game, but Pebble’s new Time smartwatch—which the company launched on Kickstarter—has raised a record amount in its short month of fundraising. The company likely could’ve gone with a more traditional product launch, with a brief pre-order window or direct to market availability, but the campaign did break Kickstarter’s all-time records, netting over $20 million ($20,338,986 to be exact) from 78,741 backers, which is newsworthy over and above the actual product it’s selling. In the end, though Pebble Time will have to stand on its own two feet post-campaign as a product, and thanks to Pebble’s use of Kickstarter, we have a unique opportunity to pin down exactly how the launch campaign fared in terms of hard pre-order numbers. It managed to raise just around $20.3 million from 78,358 backers, beating the now-second-place Kickstarter project, the Coolest Cooler, which only managed to pull in (a mere) $13.2 million this past March.

As mentioned, 78,741 backers supported the project, but that doesn’t translate to pre-order totals directly, thanks to the variation in reward tiers. Pebble sold its first smartwatch on Kickstarter back in 2012 and, just a few weeks before the Apple Watch launch, has proved it can still drive considerable demand. Here’s exactly how many Pebble Time devices (including both Time and Time Steel) Pebble moved during the campaign, taking into account the different rewards: Pebble has to deliver 48,690 Pebble Time watches by May of this year to hit its estimated shipping goals for the inaugural batch based on stated backer rewards, and 29,997 Pebble Time Steel devices for the initial July shipment group of that more expensive hardware option. By comparison, the original Pebble campaign resulted in 85,419 pre-orders (not counting prototype hardware for a special developer tier, which adds 100 more to the total) across all reward tiers. Pebble Time’s jaw-dropping Kickstarter success is more than just a record: It’s symbolic of just how much the crowdfunding landscape has changed in recent years, from a grassroots space filled with small business owners, artists and designers, to a new avenue for popular tech companies or wealthy celebrities to advertise their latest project.

Indeed, the previous Kickstarter record holder, Coolest Cooler, is a posterchild for crowdfunding’s DIY roots, hailing from a Portland-based entrepreneur who failed many times to meet a modest goal before raising more than $13 million from over 62 thousand people. That honor goes to Chris Roberts’ upcoming Star Citizen MMO, which has raised $76 million (and counting) since the launch of its fundraising campaign in October of 2012. Still, the question of whether wealthy, investor-backed companies have a place on crowdfunding websites at all is an interesting one that hasn’t been deeply explored. Will the likes of Pebble Time and Spike Lee help smaller enterprises out by raising the visibility of crowdfunding platforms across the board, or will their successes end up sidelining the indie videogame designers by attracting more of our limited disposable income? It is apparent, however, that Apple’s device launch is still the one to watch for those looking for a clearer sign that consumer appetite for wearable tech has significantly increased over the past few years.

The new smartwatch is also 20 percent thinner than its predecessor, and it comes with a new microphone that allows for voice-based responses to smartwatch events (if you’re pairing your smartwatch to an Android phone, at least; iOS users are a bit more limited).

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