The sinking of pebble … and morality
It is no longer news that fitbit bought most of pebble’s business resulting to a stop of the manufacturing of the long-awaited pebble 2 and the core that promised to be a revolutionary wearable.
What is worth noting is that even after reaching 12 M usd and shipping the first units to backers all stopped and pebble started the excruciating procedure of refunding.
Despite the feeling of disappointment as a pebble user losing half of my smartwatch (its support), I started admiring this Y Combinator start up even more as the decision of refunding instead of handing half of a product is hard especially knowing that pebble was in huge debt and keeping the 12M would have probably led to selling less of pebble’s soul.
Such ethics are hard to find today and this can clearly be proven while remaining on kickstarter where multiple campaigns built around pebble products , mainly accessories took advantage of the acquisition where they all stopped they canceled the realization of their projects, but they will only refund pledgers that claim a refund in a very short deadline leaving thousands of disappointed supporters , supporters that beleived in startups more than they believed in themselves raising questions of ethics in today’s startups.
For instance Pagaré a kickstarter project that promised adding NFC Payment capabilities to Pebble Smartwatches by embedding a chip underneath the strap confirmed that they will not repay a single dime claiming that they spent more than what was actually received from the campaign, which could be true, yet irrelevant as backers are not your average investor where risk is part of the equation but buyers who believe in projects without asking for equity.
“… Many Backers have asked about refunds. We’ve consistently replied that, unfortunately, we are not able to provide refunds. The money raised by the Kickstarter campaign went entirely into the project and was far short of what the project cost.” Pagaré
Other campaigns such VU Pulse took a slightly different path towards deception -similarly to Pagaré- where they stopped their project yet the product they offered was meant to be used with an anterior version of pebble time which was already in the hands of hundreds of thousands of users claiming that pebble is gone and so goes our promise.
As an entrepreneur, I know how it feels to have a promise on the table but one has to know the limits not simply grab the money and go because overtime entrepreneurship will step hundreds of years back where a pyramid scheme or a placebo medicine were a common practice.
A message to all crowdfunding platforms : crowdfunding is here to stay and if you don’t know how to keep your platform clean another one will replace you.
Published on December 12, 2016 (www.linkedin.com/pulse/sinking-pebble-morality-anoir-ennouri)