No Pebbles Under the Tree This Year, Canadian Entrepreneur Says

Pebble, based in Silicon Valley but born in Canada by local entrepreneur Eric Migicovsky, gained 69,000 customers through Kickstarter. Those people pledged a record-setting $10 million for the Pebble smartwatch, which uses bluetooth to connect to smartphones and display emails, texts, and more.

Those 69,000 people have been waiting. And are still waiting. And will now have to wait some more.

Crowdfunding projects have become notorious for late (and failed) deliveries. According to a new report from CNN Money, just eight out of the top 50 most-funded Kickstarter prokects shipped on time. That’s a 16% rate of campaign launchers meeting their own deadline.

Echoing this, a University of Pennsylvania study suggests 75% of successfully funded Kickstarter campaigns fail to ship on time. Research from a Wharton professor also produced similar numbers this year.

Yancey Strickler, cofounder of Kickstarter, penned a blog post yesterday titled “Is Lateness Failure?” In it, he admitted that “Kickstarter projects are great at a lot of things, but meeting deadlines isn’t one of them.” He goes on to argue that being late is no big deal. He says we should take our focus off lateness, emphasizing that Kickstarter “is not a store.”

Which brings us to Pebble, a product with roots in both Vancouver and Waterloo. After completing its crowdfunding campaign in May, the product was scheduled to be shipped in September. It’s now mid-December and Pebble has delayed shipping indefinitely.

The company’s last update on its Kickstarter campaign was December 7, when it said “unfortunately we will not be able to ship out Pebble in time for the holidays.” Now it’s simply abandoned deadlines. “We don’t want to say anything this time until we’re 100% sure,” CEO Eric Migicovsky later told CNN Money’s Julianne Pepitone.

It’s debatable whether, in the context of crowdfunding, lateness is failure. But we are certain that lateness is disappointing.