Crowdfunding Rewards are Derivatives (I think)

I’ve written previously about Ouya’s strong team and great updates but I haven’t yet said much about their rewards. (By the way, with 55 hours left in their campaign Ouya has raised $6.8m from almost 52,000 backers. Expect these totals to increase dramatically as the campaign sprints to the finish line. Kicktraq is predicting $7.5m.)

What is noteworthy about the rewards is that they are aimed at two sets of distinct but symbiotic groups — gamers and developers — and that the values of some of the rewards are correlated with the general value of Ouya.

  • $10 level: 1572 gamer backers —> $15,720
  • $25 level: 1614 gamer backers —> $40,350
  • $95 level: 1000 gamer backers —> $95,000
  • $99 level: 38,373 gamer backers —> $3,798,927
  • $140 level: 4,527 gamer backers —> $633,780
  • $225 level: 2,288 gamer backers —> $514,800
  • TOTAL: 49,374 gamer backers; $5,098,577; Average: $103.26/backer
  • $699 level: 506 developer backers —> $353,694
  • $1,337 level: 201 developer backers —> $268,737
  • $5,000 level: 4 developer backers —> $20,000
  • TOTAL: 711 gamer backers; $642,431; $903.56/backer

The first question that comes to my mind when I look at these numbers is the extent to which one group’s support spurred on the other group’s support. Did the developers start signing up once they saw that there was an enthusiastic audience for their games? Or, did the gamers start signing up once they saw that there was a committed community of developers? Did each group support the project without consideration of the other? I’d be very grateful to hear from people who have experience with feedback loops between content creators and content consumers who might be able to explain what likely happened.

The next thing that I notice is the relative size of the developer backers’ contributions. Even excluding the $5,000 level backers, the developers contributed an average of $880. These backers could afford to go big because their rewards are a sort of derivative: They don’t (indeed, can’t) get equity in the company but the value of their reward is derived from Ouya’s overall success. As such, they were willing to make a much larger investment in the project since the return on the reward is a function of Ouya’s success (something of a lock, it would seem) and their own talent (something that they have good information on).

Writing this post has me wondering other novel ways to create “derivative” rewards whose value are a function of a campaigner’s success. Ouya has shown the way for platform-type projects (I think you priced your developer rewards too low, Dalton!) but there might be ways to apply this to other types of campaigns:

  • consumer apps: ad space rewards —> allow the backers to re-sell;
  • theater projects: bulk tickets rewards —> allow backers to re-sell at market rates;
  • I’m sure there’s more. Anyone?