An unusual commission
Mark Harris

“Jolla Tablet — The other $2.5 Million European Crowdfunding Campaign that went bust …”

(which makes $4+ million losses from just two European projects)

Dear Mark Harris,

Nice Commission* from Kickstarter on a rather pressing issue.

The Zano story is worrying but, at least, Zano made the headlines— what of the other crowdfunding campaigns that go bad and that do not get publicised?

I did not back Zano, but I am glad someone will look at the sad process that led to its demise (and if there was fraud/misrepresentation or illegality)

You may have already noted this by Alex Hern in the Guardian “Laser razor thrown off Kickstarter because it doesn’t work”

But there happen to be two other recent big cases on Kickstarter and Indiegogo:

a) Light Feq: Whom I backed and was not just fraud but outright theft

LightFreq was covered by Ben Woods at TheNextWeb “How ‘backing’ a Kickstarter led me to deceit, lies and the US justice system”

b) Jolla Tablet (Finnish) $2.5+ million raised on Indiegogo but Jolla are now in insolvency, again whom I backed

So let’s look at LightFreq. LightFeq was an utter con job, and plain fraud, especially as the owners jumped crowdfunding platforms (Kickstarter to Indiegogo) to raise even more funds.

Kickstarter and Indiegogo have not responded to it satisfactorily at all.

You may want to look at the Lightfreq similarities with Zano.

Again LightFreq was seen as a working product that had won awards and been shown at trade events. Only for nothing to have been built or if they had, they did not work.

The story of Jolla Tablet is incredibly similar to Zano BUT perhaps more shocking, because it looks like Jolla spent the raised funds on something that the backers had not backed at all — software development.

Furthermore, tablet cases and other accessories were sold as add-ons, made by different merchants, and somehow even they have gone quiet and no money has been returned

Again, with Jolla Tablet, you may want to look at the similarities with Zano — a working product that had won awards and been shown at trade events.

Here is Jolla’s open letter to the community … about what happened

BUT something does not make sense.

Here are some thoughts/comments from myself and other backers, and summarised by me, about the Jolla Tablet Project; which all have relevance to the Zano project in some way:

Why is Jolla Tablet fraud, or at the very least, misrepresentation on how the funds raised WERE TO BE USED?

1) People paid for a tablet with the SailFish OS BUT Jolla decided to blow the money on a NEW sailfish OS update and the whole thing fell apart

So the question is, in a world dominated by IOS and Android, did Jolla realise that their OS was aging (Jolla admit that on their blogs)?

If so, did Jolla then:

· realise they had to split their Hardware and Software sides of the business

· Spend the money on the Software and care less on the hardware

· and effectively dump their backers who paid for a tablet Jolla already had, ready to tweak, and deliver? (The Very Big Fraud Bit)

It certainly looks like Jolla did just that, as they needed to keep the Software side going to get further investment

But then in November, their $10m investor pulled out as, I guess, in a world of IOS and Android, who wants to back Sailfish?

Fraudulent, as their Indiegogo backers wanted the JollaTablet, which was already there, actually quite powerful, and that’s what customers backed — not further software development

2) So the outcome of having spent around 2/3rds of contributors’ money on “Software” is that:

· We don’t have any Tablets,

· Jolla is currently “broke”

· Jolla (or successor company) owns the IP of Sailfish which WE funded. We have zilch

· Even if Jolla Tablet is finally delivered the Intel hardware is already near to “legacy” status.

Surely a more honest process would have been:

· To produce the Tablets loaded with whatever buggy software was around AND THEN push the software with updates.

· OR to open source it

· OR If Sailfish simply wouldn’t run on INTEL, I think it was VERY dishonest to offer the hardware. (THE FRAUD BIT)

3) The Jolla Tablet campaign we contributed to was heavily advertised on Kickstarter as:

· “its second generation Sailfish OS is more intuitive and beautiful than ever”,

· “Sailfish OS 2.0 conveniently shows all your running apps in one single view”,

· “Sailfish OS 2.0 works with your natural hand movements”

All statements that report it as a working product. Not ‘it will be’ or ‘developing’.

The campaign people contributed to lead us to believe that Jolla had a working prototype that had received awards at various tech expositions and all they needed money for was manufacturing.

Very Much Fraud and misrepresentation — from any angle or point of view.

I think you can see what all of this really means. They got the money and decided to either wing it for a better future for Jolla, not thinking of the backers, and they blew the whole lot.

But importantly, Indiegogo and Kickstarter need to think clearly about the way forward

The total costs of the losses of Jolla and Zano are in excess of $4 Million.

Should Kickstarter and Indiegogo keep the % commission for severely failed/fraudulent campaigns?

Maybe Kickstarter and Indiegogo need to start thinking about insurance policies

If a campaign begins to go beyond xxxx times the amount asked for OR for campaigns receiving £250,000 or backing, an insurance policy automatically kicks in — and it could be taken out jointly between the crowdfunding platform and the Product makers.

If the product maker refuses, their fundraising campaign is immediately capped at the limit point.

Anyway, my point in writing to you is this; If Kickstarter want to understand what happened at ZANO, Kickstarter (And you) have similar reference points with other huge failures:

Pure theft — LightFreq

Where a product:

- is displayed at trade fairs

- wins awards

- nothing is built

- then owner jumps to Indiegogo, raises more cash, and

- then disappears

Possible Fraud and misuse of campaign funds — Jolla Tablet

- backers DID NOT fund a software update

- Backers paid for production/manufacturing of an award winning product shown at trade fairs and reviewed by tech magazines

- Importantly, Where are the backers monies paid for all the Tablet accessories, add-ons and extras ALL made by Third Party Vendors?

I do hope you get to the bottom of things Mark. I look forward to reading more about this from you.

*Mark Harris; An unusual Commission

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