CEO and co-founder of crowdfunding giant Kickstarter resigns amid staff unionization effort

Kickstarter’s co-founder Perry Chen. Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic
  • Kickstarter’s co-founder Perry Chen publicly announced he would step down as the company’s CEO hours after the company’s staff announced that it would unionize on Tuesday.
  • A Kickstarter representative says that the two events are not related, noting that he made his resignation announcement to the company Monday evening.
  • Perry will continue to be chairman of the board.
  • Chen had a controversial tenure as CEO, which began in July 2017.
  • Nearly half the company reportedly turned over under his watch, and employees told BuzzFeed News he had a jarring, heavy-handed approach to his leadership.

Kickstarter co-founder Perry Chen announced Monday that he is stepping down as CEO of the crowdfunding platform, but will stay on as chairman of the board. The public announcement came hours after staff at the company announced that they would form a union.

“I’ve decided to step away from the CEO position at Kickstarter to focus on high-level and long-term company needs in my role as chairman of the board,” he wrote in a blog post.

Read more:
Staff at crowdfunding giant Kickstarter are unionizing in a potential first for big tech in the US

A Kickstarter representative said that Chen’s resignation was not related to staff unionization efforts announced earlier on Tuesday. She noted that Chen announced his resignation to the company in an email Monday evening.

Chen re-joined Kickstarter in July 2017, but his tenure proved controversial.

In April 2018, BuzzFeed News reported that the company was in turmoil under Chen’s leadership. At the time of BuzzFeed’s reporting, nearly 50 of the company’s 120 staff had reportedly left, including seven out of eight members of the company’s executive team.

According to BuzzFeed, “employees said Chen strongly exerted his will on the company – making sudden changes to planned-out Kickstarter features, scrapping project timelines at the last minute, forcing out highly respected employees, and trying to shake up office culture in ways that struck the rank and file as simply bizarre.”

In his blog post, published shortly following an inquiry from Business Insider, Chen noted that he only intended to serve as interim CEO when he came back to the company:

“When I returned as CEO in 2017, I initially intended to spend about six months working to set up a long-term foundation to ensure Kickstarter remained aligned with its mission, and to set the next leader up for success. Those months quickly became two years dedicated to developing a better way to deliver on the core aspects of our service through a robust operating system, a strong product, and the team we have assembled at Kickstarter today.”

According to the blog, Kickstarter’s Design & Product team lead Aziz Hasan will replace Chen as interim CEO.