a year back out, a year back in
A year ago, I stepped away from running Kickstarter to return to my own art & projects, after years of living, dreaming and breathing Kickstarter almost all the time. There were the years before we launched, fighting to make it real; and the years after, in the whirlwind of it all.
If you had told a younger me that I would have done anything for the better part of a decade, I would have laughed. Yet, for much of Kickstarter time I didn’t even think about “time”. I was steering a ship with half a map; consumed by the excitement and challenges, the moments where you’re floating, and the moments where the weight of it all mixes perfectly with your flaws.
It was, of course, worth it in every way.
A year ago, there was no boardroom drama. As uncommon as it is for a founder to choose to step back from running a young company progressing well, Sunny Bates, Fred Wilson and I have known each other for many years, and they understood. So did my partners: Charles, who was heading off to new things himself, and Yancey, who we asked to step up to the job of CEO.
We set Jan 1, 2014 for the change. I wrapped up the year and finished some big projects, including the move into our new HQ/home in Greenpoint. It was a good moment for a transition if there ever is one.
Things are always changing though. In Yancey’s first few months at the helm he pushed through challenges that I could have better prepared us for, and new things that came at him quickly as he settled in. It is as hard a job as they say it is. I can attest.
I dove back into my own art & projects. Returning, over time, to the cadence of life before I meshed almost completely with Kickstarter. It’s been both familiar and (familiarly) challenging. A return to the less structured, and often less social, world of creating new things.
I spent much of this past year on three projects: LUNAR, an installation in Mexico City in February; Dollar a Day, a nonprofit campaign launched in November; and Computers in Crisis, an investigation into Y2K presented in December.
It feels good to dive deep into new things.
I still spend time on Kickstarter as chairman, but it’s tremendously less time than the job of CEO. Yancey and I still discuss big challenges and ideas, but it’s different. We are the same people, but with a new dynamic to our roles and relationship. It’s something new for us to collaborate on and get better at. Another phase to our, now long, partnership.
We’re both growing, learning, stretching, as we complete a year out from the change. I am grateful for Yancey’s friendship and leadership over our long journey together, especially now — as he takes so much responsibility for Kickstarter on his shoulders. And I’m thankful to the team for supporting him, old friends from the early days, and new faces that I have yet to properly meet.