The webcomics blog about webcomics

Looks Like I’m Headed To Bethesda

This was decided a few hours prior to the news breaking about Kickstarter firing three people in the space of eight days, who all were involved in the unionization effort there. But since that happened, my trip will now be a dual-purpose wallow in some comics and awesome people trip mixed with commit some godsdammned journalism overtones.

For those that haven’t seen all of the brewing shitstorm: Clarissa Redwine asserts that she exceeded all her employment performance metrics for Q2, but Kickstarter told her she was fired for performance deficiencies. Taylor Moore says he was offered no explanations as to his termination. I’ve not seen a public identification of the third employee yet. Both Redwine and Moore have said their severance was contingent on signing an NDA/non-disparagement agreement which is both common and totally weaksauce¹.

Kickstarter, for its part, put out a statement that no employee has or will be fired for union organizing. It’s … not being received well, possibly because it reads like it was crafted in a sterile legal environment to stay on the right side of perjury laws rather than the right side of the community they’ve built.

Some webcomics (and webcomics-adjacent) folk have chimed in already, the two most significant of which are probably Andy Baio (one half of The Andys behind XOXO and the attempt to re-engineer Drip, not to mention pre-launch board member and onetime CTO of Kickstarter; Andy McMillan is the other) and George (who is probably more closely associated with Kickstarts than anybody else in the web/indie comics world).

I have some emails out to people closely associated with Kickstarter asking if they are willing to go on the record with their thoughts; one response indicates they will specifically not say anything until certain direct discussions take place, which is entirely fair. A bunch of people that have tied their business models to Kickstarter will be at SPX this weekend (including some Thought Leaders), and I’m going to ask as many of them as I can what they think, then I’m going to tell you what they said.

In advance, please do not impute motives to anybody that isn’t named in the quotes, or that you are certain you have figured out from an off-the-record comment. Just don’t. You may be very pissed at Kickstarter right now² and ready to burn them to the ground, but there is a mountain of difference between choosing to not contribute to Kickstarter campaigns, and having to suddenly figure out how — or if it’s even possible — to no longer use them as a creator platform while meeting rent. It will be difficult for more than a few of them to navigate a course between what they want to do ethically and what they are required to do practically.

Spam of the day:

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Take your fucking pyramid scheme somewhere else, please.

¹ How fucking insecure do you have to be as a corporation that you can’t tolerate people you fired complaining about it? Bitching about current/past employers is an inalienable fucking right.

² I certainly am, and this is what I’ve decided: I am prepared to suspend my support of future campaigns if the Kickstarter Union calls for that, which they are not presently doing. If that changes, I’ll make my intentions public.

Regardless of the requests of Kickstarter United, I will not be canceling any present pledges, because taking back money that creators expect, money that I pledged prior to this douchebaggery, isn’t fair to those creators.

All of this is subject to revision pending what I learn this weekend, and from further verified information (including statements from Kickstarter or KRSU) in the future.

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