Kickstarter, the online crowdfunding website, has hired Mark Harris, a well-respected journalist, to investigate a failed campaign, according to a Medium post by Harris.
Harris will be investigation Zano, a buzzy company that sought to build a drone. The campaign raised £2.3 million ($3.4 million) but the company was dead within a year. The 12,000 backers never received an end product or, more importantly, a reason why.
Kickstarter is not, as the company stressed, an online store. There is an element of risk with every pledge. The difference with Zano is, according to the company, the lack of communication.
“The company wants to help the backers of this failed project get the information they are entitled to under their agreement with the project creator,” said Harris. “They would like to uncover the story of Zano, from its inception to the present, and decided that the best way to do that was to hire a journalist.”
Zano lost its CEO and founder, Ivan Reedman, due to “personal health issues and irreconcilable differences” with the company in November, 2015.
Harris has previously worked for The Guardian, The Economist, Wired, and New Scientist. He said that Kickstarter was giving him money upfront to research and report the topic, an unusual arrangement in freelance writing.
“We went looking for a good freelance tech writer with some investigative experience, and we found Mark,” David Gallagher, a Kickstarter spokesman, told Ars Technica.
“Crucially, although Kickstarter is paying me (up front) to research and write this story and will be able to see it before it is sent to the backers or published,” Harris wrote. “The company has no right to make any suggestions or changes to my copy. I have no other connection to the company, nor to anyone on the Zano team, and have no particular axe to grind.”
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