The dark side of crowdfunding is the uncomfortable reality the project may not be funded and, in some case, backers can lose their money. In recent weeks, two Kickstarter projects highlight the problem.
In the first example, PetaPixel recently confirmed what had been long rumored: Backers of a Meyer Optik Görlitz lens campaigns won’t see either their lens or their money back, as the German parent company, net SE, has filed bankruptcy and disappeared. According to the report, insolvency proceedings are underway, which mean no returns will be forthcoming. In addition to Meyer Optik Görlitz, net SE also attempted reboots of vintage brands that include Emil Busch A.-G. Rathenau, Oprema Jena, C.P. Goerz, Ihagee Elbaflex, and A. Schacht.
Another classic brand, Yashica, also attempted a rise from the grave, with a Kickstarter campaign for its Yashica Y35 digiFilm camera raising $1 million. In this case, the camera system – which involved “digital film cassettes” designed to emulate specific film emulsions – did make it to the market. Unfortunately, the delivered $150 product was met with hundreds of resounding bad reviews on its page. The campaign’s motto was “Expect the Unexpected.” For those who ordered the Yashica Y35, expecting a functioning device was not what you should look for.
Among the complaints:
- “Yashica” is spelled wrong on the camera lens
- Camera has not arrived.
- The camera turns off when the shutter is pressed
- The camera doesn’t turn on
- Users describe the Yashica Y35 as a “dashcam” with a cheap plastic housing
- The package does not come with all the digiFilm cassettes ordered.
- The black-and-white digiFilm cassette takes color photos
- Non-operating buttons molded into the body just for looks
- Incorrect labeling on the digiFilm rolls
- Removing the lens cover caused the lens to separate from the camera body
This is one reason why the Dead Pixels Society is selective about what crowdfunding campaigns we choose to cover. While there are many cool ideas and products emerging from them, it’s best to avoid smoke and mirrors.