The History of Kickstarter

The History of Kickstarter

This article was written by Samuel Phineas Upham

Kickstarter began in rudimentary form, in New Orleans during the 2001 Jazz Festival. Perry Chen, who would become the founder of Kickstarter, wanted to hold a music show at the festival. He invited some DJs and set to work on booking the venue, but the owner of the venue wouldn’t host the show. The event would be too expensive, and Chen didn’t have the cash up front to cover it.

Chen’s first thought was, what if one could build up momentum before an event even occurred?

So he went back to New York to build the first steps of the process. He met with entrepreneurs, and asked a lot of questions like where to find talent and how to secure funding. Eventually, his search led him to Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler.

Both of them collaborated with Chen, sketching out wireframes and basic ideas on how the site would work. Unfortunately, none of them could code. Things were at a standstill for a few years, with the group of young men working day jobs and freelance just to keep their housing in the city of San Francisco.

The breakthrough came when Chen met Andy Baio, who eventually joined the team as an advisor. Andy helped the team find some developers, and they all coordinated through Skype and email to put together the website. It launched in 2009, where it has since received over $1 billion in pledges from fans wanting to support new products and concepts. Though it has not always been a safe ride through crowd sourcing, Kickstarter has set the standard for crowd funding.


About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Samuel Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Facebook page.