Edited to add: I'd be really interested to see one of these sites implement the Rational Street Performer Protocol , which essentially means that each donor pledges matching funds ("I'll donate $X for every $Y that anyone else pledges, up to a maximum of $Z"). This gives individuals a stronger incentive to pledge more; the hard part is coming up with a simple explanation that first-time users will understand.
The boring truth is that we took Perry Chen's idea, and, like any software project, continued to refine and adjust our vision of what the site should be, and what the user experience should be, based on the imagined needs of some hypothetical users.
What we ended up building was only remotely similar to what our requirements started out with, and the project continued to morph after those initial stages, to what it is today.
I am sorry that this guy's startup did not take off as Kickstarter has. Making libelous claims about the work of others, though, is no way to be.
Blog posts and comments about my startup (http://FriendBinder.com) often think we copied FriendFeed, SocialThing or some other site though the reality is that those sites didn't exist when we started early in 2007 (or were in stealth at least).
That's life I'm afraid.
Or, if you don't want to spend money: Brighter, more friendly colours, replace Arial with Helvetica, drastically cut down on the italic, draw some subtle, but clear seperations of the containers. But keep the basic concept intact, I really like it.
yikes, sounds like entrepreneurship really doesn't suit John.
For those of you who insist on thinking that the truth always lies in between two accounts of a situation, I urge you to drop that misguided notion, especially for this situation.
Customers are encouraged to use Kickstarter as a replacement for Fundable.com and seek legal action against Louis Helm personally should he fail to resolve your payment issues promptly.
All it took was 5 super-connected people at Kickstarter (especially Andy Baio) to take a concept we worked hard to refine, tweak it with Amazon Payments, and then take credit. You could say that that's capitalism, but I still think you should acknowledge people that you take inspiration from.
The thing is being well connected does matter. And I wouldn't say that's just calling it capitalism. Further, getting an idea off the ground is hard regardless of how well you are connected and how good the idea is. The fact that Facebook is "the" social networking site shows that one idea can become successful while earlier attempts fall by the wayside. It happens everyday. Perhaps Kickstarter will be wildly successful, or perhaps not, but the connectedness of the founders is only one part of Kickstarter's rise.
To the issue of giving credit where credit is due. If Kickstarter did not use the author's code or his/her own works, then the author deserves no explicit named credit. Just as Google deserved no explicit named credit from Microsoft when it released Bing. Not to mention the other possible legal ramifications if Kickstarter came forward and publicly acknowledged their idea was based on Fundable's.
Can't imagine why this Pratt guy is having difficulties with that.
From the comments that pretty much sums up why he failed.
The quick synopsis: He gathered fundraiser money then just kept it and never returned it or dispersed it to the users. (Explains the police charges)
Connected people (usually) aren't born connected. It's simply a byproduct of past success. They work hard, network, execute, iterate, succeed and get people's attention.
If you can't figure that after 4 years, too bad for you.
Gosh I know how this guy feels -- I've had three other startup ideas that were "copied" by the market and took off in other formats. And he was so dead on and hilarious in his assessment of presenting to investors: * I tried for 4 years to get people to take Fundable seriously, traveling across the country, even giving a presentation to FBFund, Facebook's fund to stimulate development of
new apps. It was a series of rejections for 4 years. I really felt that I presented myself professionally in every business situation and I dressed appropriately and practiced my presentations. That was not enough. The idiots wanted us to show them charts with massive profits and widespread public acceptance so that they didn't have to take any risks.*
But guess what? None of that matters and it's all so much whining. Dude -- don't go 4 years with any one idea. Try maybe a year or two. This is a numbers game and you may have to get 10 or 15 of these ideas behind you. Forget about financing. It's a fools game played by people with more money than common sense and all about jumping on the bandwagon and who you know, not about real market-changing potential.
Damn I feel your pain. I really do. It sucks to have a paradigm-shifting idea and watch some other assholes who are simply better-connected run with it. The marketplace is NOT a meritocracy.
I'm right where they were 4 years ago -- new idea, developing a new site, lots of upside potential, and lots of odds stacked against me. I could move to SV and start becoming a professional fundraiser/hanger-on, or I could work my idea and most likely fail.
I choose to work my idea. I'm not going to create charts or blow smoke up investors butts. They get so much of that -- it's one of the reasons their discriminators are so broken. Jesus himself could appear and ask for funding to start a new world religion and they'd probably respond with something like "Wonderful idea, Jesus, but your team doesn't look so good -- lots of fishermen and nobody is even literate. Also the market you're chosen, Judea? Not so good in terms of disposable income. You should move to Rome. Get to know some of the Senators. But good luck with all of that. Don't call us, we'll call you." [damn. That's a good blog idea -- if Jesus was a startup]
Having laughed (and cried) at how real this article was, I wouldn't have written it. As grellas points out, sometimes venting helps and sometimes it doesn't. It's time to get moving, not complaining.
Right, and neither is one's own opinion of oneself.
I don't know if this John Pratt guy actually has any intelligence, perseverance or marketable skills, but one thing he certainly does have is personality disorder. If I were him I'd take some time to reflect on his public persona, figure out what's wrong with his attitude, and then go get his name legally changed before trying again.
"The image comparison below indicates that I have something to offer in this area." What???
I think this guy needs some serious therapy. It's not healthy to be that deluded and angry about things.
You can either spend all your time and energy moaning and whining like this about how you had some idea once and someone stole it and executed it, which is obviously trivial if you're well connected (BS). OR you can spend your energy executing, and making things work.
The funny thing about all that is that the guy put a lot of efforts into that and had the time to think, at least, twice.
I was happy when I heard of Fundable in 2005, not because it was a cool new idea but because it was an old idea overdue for someone to do it right. (In fact, in 2001 I owned the domains 'payzi.com' and 'tipzi.com' -- as possible homes for some sort of audience-sourced creative-project funding system to complement the Bitzi metadata service.)
Fundable didn't quite do it right, for whatever reasons. Now I'm happy the concept is getting another try from another team.
--if you do anything with shifting money on the internet, your first and largest group of customers will be fraudsters. Plans to deal with this need to be in place from day 1, if not before.
Fundable was beset by fraud, and for whatever reason, failed to deal with it in a successful fashion.
It's sort of like input/output sanitization. If you take input from one user, and show it to another user, you've got HTML security problems. If you take money from one user, and you give it another user, you've got massive fraud problems, unless you have a comprehensive "money sanitization" process operating behind the scenes.
The part where he calls the founder of the list a troll is also choice.
> By nature, most engineers try to tear projects down and explain why things won't work or are "too much work." It's often a consequence of how most of them can interpret minor hangups as major, nearly-insolvable problems. That's why you have to find those rare engineers, like Google engineers or Apple engineers, who have a respect for the arts and humanities. Those are the engineers who create breakthroughs and push the limits of existing technologies. NeXT, a computer company from the 1990's, was a very good example of this and its innovations are still being felt today. Its technologies underly the iPod, Mac OS X, and the iPhone. Its hardware manufacturing advances were far ahead of its time.
> If you are saying that this project is not feasible, you are simply incorrect. Non-specialist observers can see that the technology to accomplish this is available. We may not yet know how it's going to work specifically, but we'll find engineers and programmers who want to make it work.
I'm not particularly impressed by his antics but I don't think name-calling adds anything to this discussion.
I'm generally all in favor of calling people out when they act like internet tough guys, but I'm puzzled that one use of the word douchebag qualifies with you. To each his own.
Pledgebank has been doing this since 04 at least. I run petitionspot so I have been watching sites like this and they just didnt do a good job. Just look at thepoint.com ( now groupon ) - They tore it up because they did a good job. They were in chicago, not the valley.
In the end, "ideas" are worthless. It's implementation that leads to success; you actually have to build the better mousetrap.
(image from: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=858033 )
You can also hire me to teach you how to build your self-confidence as a standup guy or give a talk to your organization on the subject. The image comparison below indicates that I have something to offer in this area
I didn't do this to kick the guy while he's down. It's that on Twitter I knew enough people working in various roles in startups and even just most companies that I thought this would be a good warning to all of them of what never to do. You don't ever publicly accuse your competitor of outright ripping off your idea (if that really was the case, take them to court, but it's clearly not appropriate here). You don't publicly attack your co-founder because it didn't work out for whatever reason. You especially don't do either one in an email to a group of pretty tech-savvy and possibly well-connected people and then go on to attack said group when they don't respond favorably because oh noes, they're being unfair to you. All because you wanted to tell them about your new startup.
Pratt seems to want to get more connections and more interested eyes looking at his new project for funding and development and more, and he's not helping his case by acting the way he does. All this bad press could have been prevented if he had edited out most of his original email. It should have been something like "Hey, remember me, we might have met before at a previous BarCampLA...I was one of the guys behind Fundable. I'm now working on a new startup called PDXCell, and I'd appreciate it if you'd check it out!". Not this burning-all-bridges tactic. I tend not to talk much at BarCampLA events, but I've still met people there looking to fund startups, talented developers/engineers/hackers, marketing types, and more. That's a lot of potentially useful connections that will now remember this guy as someone never to work with.
So while some of the comments here might really be kicking the guy while he is down, I saw this link as an educational moment, especially to HNers that might someday (if not already) find themselves tempted to do the same. I'd hope Pratt realizes what he's doing wrong eventually..
And frankly, Michael Pusateri's response at the end was pretty wonderful.
You can't complain about something being hard to execute on and then bitch because others executed the idea better than you could. That's just the nature of the game.
I got new Mac OS. Now what's next.
I read the Y Combinator news feed. Major drama from some nutjob who ruined his company
and was a douchebag. Ha ha.
Cool. Now what's next.
I read the TechCrunch page. Now what's next.
What's Apple working on next?
Ok. What's Google working on next?
Ok, I found out. Now, what's next?
What does Tim O'Reilly say is the next thing?
Ok. What does Cory Doctorow say is the next thing?
Ok. What does Andy Baio's link blog say is the next thing?
Ok. What does Mashable have to say is the next thing?
[continue as nested loop: your wasted life on the computer]
I had never heard of fundable.com or you prior to the exposure initiated by this thread. I started looking up the all the background information I could and I tried (hard) to not pass undue judgment. The problem is not so much what others wrote about you or your business, the problem is what you wrote. In your messages you start (somewhat) rational and reasonable, albeit frustrated (for reasons anyone can understand). Then as you are coming to wrap-up of what you write, you say something that really makes me cringe. I don't know how or why you do it, but seriously, before you post something I urge you to sit on the text for a couple of hours before pressing that submit button.
Your name is attached to that shit.
(yeah yeah, feeding the troll, bbye karma -- should I have any)
Ok. Defend yourself more online.
Ok. Wait, there are still some people who disagree?
Defend yourself online. Right!
Ah, not everyone yet agrees!
[continue as needed to staunch the hole in your ego]
Lot's of people fail at startups. That's actually the norm, despite the way that people perceive the market. Only the most asinine people would make fun of you for just not succeeding. But the difference between most people's attitude and your attitude: you seem to think that you did everything right, that everyone else conspired against you.
That kind of mindset is not the way to succeed in this business.
LOSERS WHO HAVE NEVER TAKEN RISKS IN THEIR LIVES OR OPENED THEMSELVES TO PUBLIC OR PERSONAL ATTACK.
- John Pratt (yes, it's me)
Seriously, you need to cut out the coffee, stat.
with some unpublished emails from the original Google group
That means if you are reading this, you are probably a loser.
-John Pratt (yes, it's me)
("Fags"? Really? This from a grown-up? Utterly bizarre. Is this a fake account or something? It's done well, if so.)