Ghost Town by Eric Magnuson, cc-by-nc-sa

In researching crowd-funding sites for an upcoming campaign, I came across www.crowdfunding.com which purported to rate the top 10 crowd-funding sites on a daily basis.

Somewhat odd to see the first place site with a lower Alexa rank than #2, isn’t it?

However, I noticed the site was apparently sponsored or operated by gofundme, ranked at the top surprisingly, and some stats on the page had apparently not been updated in over a year.

So I decided to verify the traffic data myself. Starting with Indiegogo, a platform used by a campaign I had previously supported, this is what I saw.

An undeniable loss of traffic, particularly in the past two and a half months.

Well if Indiegogo’s traffic has cratered, its users must have gone to Kickstarter, right?

Nope. It too has suffered a hemorrhaging of traffic, and within the same time period. Something is seriously off.

How about gofundme, the platform that got me looking at these stats to begin with? How’s it holding up?

Hmm. While gofundme experienced an occasional uptick in traffic in the new year, it too is down from its peak last April; whence it experienced a steady decline in activity.

Here’s another crowd-funding platform I came across, BackerKit.

Well that’s refreshing! A site which actually grew in traffic over the past three months, but not by much. And the growth trajectory it had last year looks to have vanished.

“The world has gone mobile, fool!” you might say. Perhaps. But Kickstarter has had an iPhone app out for three years. Could it be that the release of a Kickstarter app for Android in January is the new locus of activity for crowd-funding circles? It could be. The other platforms already had iOS and Android apps before then, so there might be something to that.

Also, this is based on the sites’ Alexa rankings, which indexes the sites by traffic, and isn’t a direct quantification of the MAU. It just ranks the sites by performance relative to the other sites Alexa tracks; and in this case, for the whole world. So there might have been over 200 newly popular websites from overseas since CES; sites focused on VR, IoT or drones, let’s imagine. In that case, crowd-funding traffic might not have decreased but possibly increased, and the rankings would still fall because users flocked to the new shiny.

But without hard facts, I’m feeling a bit concerned that these crowd-funding sites, living in Internet time, might have already passed their heyday. Was it a fad? Was it fueled by the irrational exuberance for unicorns? Have crowd-funding tastes shifted towards equity over projects? If so, why has Quire, which had transitioned from Alphaworks since being featured on the Startup Podcast, apparently pivoted again into a foursquare/Yelp competitor?

“wait…. what happened to… your whole business? When did you exit crowdfunding?”

So now we’re going to reexamine our fundraising options. We were hoping we could use a crowd-funding platform to gauge market demand and develop a supportive and vocal community of users, more so than its capital-raising function itself as we won’t need nearly as much capital as computer hardware companies did in the 80's, but this drop in popularity practically across the board requires a rethink.

What are others seeing? And what will be the options for us, and user-centric teams like ours, going forward?

In the meantime, we would appreciate your $1 contribution to our ramen fund while we build up the assets to our fundraising campaign, in whatever form it ends up taking.