16 February 2014 | 16 Comments
Update: Here’s a follow-up podcast on this subject with Funding the Dream co-host Richard Bliss.
If you’ve ever backed or created a project on Kickstarter, you should have gotten an e-mail last night from CEO Yancey Strickler that informed you that hackers had gained unauthorized access to some customer data. You can read his message here, and I’d like to go over what it means for you. Here’s the key part of Strickler’s message:
While no credit card data was accessed, some information about our customers was. Accessed information included usernames, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and encrypted passwords. Actual passwords were not revealed, however it is possible for a malicious person with enough computing power to guess and crack an encrypted password, particularly a weak or obvious one.
If you’ve never backed a Kickstarter project, you’re probably not reading this blog. But attracting new backers to Kickstarter is important to creators–when you tell your family that you’re trying to raise $5,000 to make dog costumes for cats (cat costumes for dogs is the first stretch goal), you want their perception of Kickstarter to be a safe place to spend their money.
I don’t think you have to worry too much about that perception. At this point, I think there are two types of people in the world: Those who will never use their credit card online (and possibly not in person), and those who do. Even if Kickstarter wasn’t hacked, you weren’t going to get anyone from that first category to back your project anyway.
Plus, in terms of logistics, if you currently don’t have an account on Kickstarter, then you didn’t have an account to be hacked. So, no worries there.
Impact: Minimal to None
Strickler addresses this in his letter, and when you next log onto Kickstarter, it will prompt you to change your password. It sounds like the hackers might be able to connect your passwords to your name and e-mail, so if you use your Kickstarter password for anything else, now is the time to change it everywhere. Annoying, yes, but sometimes a little spring cleaning can help out in the long run.
My concern is that the hacking would shake the confidence of current backers in the Kickstarter platform as a whole. I’ve posted a poll to this effect at the end of the post.
I reached out to David Chott, creator of the beautifully run, 300% funded campaign for Lagoon (on Kickstarter for another 2 weeks) to see if he had noticed an uptick in cancellations since Kickstarter’s announcement. He said there was nothing out of the ordinary.
The one area where I see this having a very small impact is that creators might see a slight increase in people requesting to pay using alternative forms of payment like PayPal (or BitCoin? Will that be a thing soon?) To my knowledge, you are allowed to post a link to PayPal on your Kickstarter project page.
However, I wouldn’t recommend doing this. Closely linked to your project’s success is whether or not potential backers perceive it as successful. So every dollar that doesn’t show up on your pledge total at the top of your Kickstarter page is a dollar that doesn’t aid that perception. Plus, it’s a little harder to keep track of pledges that aren’t made through Kickstarter–make sure you don’t forget about them.
What do you think? Has the hacking changed your perception of Kickstarter?