The Founder of Kickstarter on Why He’s “Not Some Rich Tech Dude With a Tesla”

By Mallory Greene Crowdfundbeat Guest Post

My parents split up when I was 10, and it felt like they were consumed with that drama for years. My sister and I ended up living with our dad, who’s an international marketing consultant. He’d always joke, “I don’t really know what that means, but that’s what I do.” Being the classic Midwestern midcentury stoic dude, he wanted to protect us from any financial stresses, but at times, we were close to tatters, times when my dad had lost his job and couldn’t make rent for his apartment. He could only hide it so much—some situation or another would make it very clear that we might be close to being totally screwed.






I always wanted to be an architect. In the library, I’d spend hours looking at Mies van der Rohe’s buildings but my dad would always tell me, there’s no money in architecture. So I went to Purdue for mechanical engineering, and in the midst of that I stumbled upon something that I really loved— doing design work for record labels, and designing their websites. It was just a creative outlet, tinkering. I realized that I could make a living doing the thing that felt like play to me. So I dropped out of Purdue to work as a Web designer and developer.

My connection to money is fairly weak, to be honest. I inherited my father’s work ethic—workaholism—but the drive behind my work has never been purely about money.

People think that if you’re going to start a tech company, you’re going to become exorbitantly wealthy. The truth is most entrepreneurs don’t succeed. We were certainly part of the lucky few who came out with a massive success on our hands, but the goal was never about getting rich. It was about empowering people. That’s what drove us. That’s what fueled my work ethic. I think this becomes clear with our transition to become a public-benefit corporation. And I’d say this shift in the company is a great reflection of how I think about money and work: You need to be balanced.

So no, I’m not some rich tech dude with a Tesla. In fact, I usually convince myself not to buy things, and I’ve always been very wary of credit cards. Building Kickstarter was probably one of the hardest feats I’ve been through in my life. To make that point: In 2007, I was in Salt Lake City visiting part of our team. At midnight, in my hotel room, my heart started pounding, and my mouth went cold and dry. I thought I was having a heart attack. Thankfully it was only a panic attack, but it felt so real to me. The pressure was real: balancing zero income with the drive to see this thing through along with my cofounders.

Adding to this pressure, my daughter, Phoebe, was born in February 2009, two months and two days before we launched Kickstarter in April.

Two years ago, I left Kickstarter after seven years. I could have stayed but felt I had to explore new ideas.

Leaving Kickstarter was certainly scary. I’d never founded a company that was as successful or visible as Kickstarter, so I didn’t know what the other side of that was going to look like. But we had some savings to fall back on, plus I planned to consult, and my wife would return to work. This has allowed us to support ourselves while still making time as a family—even for little things, like dropping my daughter off at school and going to the park, which were admittedly things I’d not been able to effectively prioritize. Again, workaholism.

Now my wife has more anxiety about money that I do. She came here from Korea when she was three, and her parents ran a little electronics store in Chicago. It was a very minimalist upbringing. We don’t fight about money, but we talk about it frequently, in terms of livelihood versus our life-lihood, how we can have the financial lifestyle we want but not work too much so that we can be more involved in our daughter’s life.

Would I want to leave Phoebe a lot of money? Actually I think the answer to that would be no; I want to leave her independence. Which is not the same thing. And I think we could do something with money that has a greater impact than just leaving a trust fund for our daughter—arts philanthropy for instance. Right now I’m fascinated with the idea of B Corps—for-profit companies applying themselves to social impact, the intersection of mission and profit. I love the idea of being able to create another company based on the ideals we wove into Kickstarter: that you can create a profitable business that’s also creating a positive social impact, and the success of the platform means the success of the community. This is what’s important to me.

Tags: ,


This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at [...]

Oregon BusinessFor-profit giving normalized as crowdfunding maturesOregon BusinessNot so long ago, people might have thought twice about donating money to a for-profit company. But In the few years since crowdfunding debuted, thousands of companies have used online fundraising platfor [...]

The Daily Dot'Looking for Leia' creator launches crowdfunding campaign to expand into docuseriesThe Daily DotLooking for Leia creator Annalise Ophelian has created a crowdfunding campaign on Seed & Spark to raise funds to cover the new format of her project, which she sa [...]

New York PostToy tycoon leads crowdfunding effort to save Toys R Us brandNew York PostA budding campaign to buy Toys 'R' Us has hit a few bumps in the road, but its billionaire backer said he's just getting started. More On: toys “r” us · The best way to shop Toys [...]

ARL nowCrowdfunding Campaign Launched for Ballston Homicide VictimARL nowGiandoni, who would have turned 41 on Wednesday, was found dead in his home in Ballston last weekend. Police later determined his death to have been a homicide, though few details have been revealed about the cir [...]

Bitcoinist4NEW To Implement Ocular KYC solution before completing ...BitcoinistLondon, England. 4NEW announced today that it will pause the current fundraising efforts on March 27, three days earlier than planned in order to allow the team to complete implementation of their KYC/Anti- [...]

Allentown Morning CallBillionaire toy executive hopes to raise $800 million via crowdfunding to save Toys R UsAllentown Morning CallIsaac Larian, the billionaire toy executive behind Bratz, Little Tikes and L.O.L. Surprise! dolls, wants to save Toys R Us. (Christopher Lee / Bloomberg) [...]

Which of these worthy crowdfunding causes wins your vote?Jacaranda FMWhich of these two worthy candidates do you think deserves a crowdfunding dream-come-true? crowdfunding Supplied. We all know the feeling. Your goal is in sight, but you just need one last push. If you could get that [...]

Honolulu Star-AdvertiserIndie film 'Waikiki' seeks crowdfunding boostHonolulu Star-AdvertiserDanielle Zalopany, right, stars as Kea in the independent feature “Waikiki,” set for release later this year. Zalopany is a Po'okela Award-winning actress and has appeared on CB [...]

KGO-TVGroup launches crowdfunding campaign for homeless on San ...KGO-TVTake it to the Streets has launched a $50000 crowdfunding campaign to provide housing and services for homeless young adults.and more » [...]

CFB Finance


  • Crowdfunding
  • Crowdfund
  • Peer to Peer Lending
  • FinTech
  • Reg A+
  • Reg CF
  • Crowdfunding USA

Press Release

Live Crowdfunding .tv

What's Next Step in Regulation A+ JOBS ACTS Title IIII :L Interview : Steve Cinelli with Brian Korn Securities and Crowdfunding/Peer-to-Peer Lending Lawyer, Watch more video library | Conference | Interview | Campaign Showcase | Research | Education |