1. Kickstarter campaign for a new high-tech smart-watch launches. The creator, "Vak", responds to a few questions on the watch about specs and hardware in a noncommital, generic way that doesn't reveal a lot of details.
2. Skepticism increases when one customer claims that the watch is apparently identical to a Z3, a watch with similar specs, which they already own. They provide pictures and proof that indicate that the Vak may literally be using the Z3 itself in all the photos and just switching out the wristbands. 
3. A minor firestorm erupts in the comments; people accuse Vak of scamming them. 
4. Vak asks for time to construct a Kickstarter update, saying that the deluge of comments makes it impossible to respond individually.
5. A few days later, Vak responds to the points raised in the original accusation. 
6. ... and keeps responding with the same message, dozens of times. He (or someone using his account) repeatedly posts the same message, over and over and over, to the Kickstarter thread, in response to any skeptical questions.
7. Vak says "it wasn't me!"  Pretty much no one believes him.
8. Article gets posted to HN.
… has the model number (S2122B) of the SmartQ Z3 watch, too.
Also it is very interesting how the story keeps changing. First version was that they developed the watch from scratch and a Chinese company stole their IP. Now the story is that they never developed any hardware, but only worked on the software. However they cannot even show any software properly working on a prototype.
I fail to understand how kickstarter has still left it open. Now the guy is saying that since kickstarter is allowing him to go on, his is a valid project.
You know someone is full of shit when their linkedin profile looks like this...
So he jumped from R&D Engineer | Marketing Dept
SMC Networks TO:
Campusbug.com (lol at this site)
Pageable.com ( lol co-founded a site that isn't even up)
Chief Product Zen Officer
Pivot HQ ( look he is the CPO of this lovely company http://pivothq.webs.com/)
Bullear Partners (googled this and there isn't even a firm by this name)
Cofounder/Principal Managing Director
Techzulu.com (legit news site for socal but don't see his name anywhere on the website as founder?)
Principal Managing Director
Crushspot.com (is this his attempt to find a girlfriend)
Mentor and Advisor
FastStart.studio(I don't see him on this site anywhere as mentor?)
Rockfield Labs (who the fuck lists themselves as a founder of a meetup group? you organized a meetup group that has had 4 meetups in the last 2 years and you are some sort of founder?)
Duocampus (This looks like a damn furniture store... co-work space? really? only thing correct in this whole resume is "startup fanboy" looks like he tries to make fake companies or ride the coat tails of real entrepreneurs)
Head of Technology
Concert BC (sorry but who ever is getting consultating from this company is getting ripped off if this guy can't even answer simple questions about specs on a product he supposedly made. http://www.concertbc.com/portfolio/vak-sambath-head-technolo...)
Deka (lol this guy is a joke look for him at 1:15 in the video... so he was the CTO/CPO of a failed indiegogo campaign)
Rock™ Smartwatch (let's see how this train wreck ends)
What an impressive resume huh? more like what a load of shit.
Googled him further:
Supposedly he has a 500,000 fund? "- Money. That’s right—I have partnered with a $500K fund, through Anonymous Angels, that is focused on mobile apps & games. The sole requirement is that you have been a current member of BLANKSPACES for a month. Thanks Vak Sambath!"
LMAO at this joke http://www.vaksambath.com/ ... save yourself time and scroll to the bottom and read that load of shit... with someone with many failed companies he tries to "crush others dreams" can we ban this guy from anything Tech or just in life general
This guy is pathetic "When asked what’s next for the app, Vak mentioned that they are developing RodeDog to work with various mobile providers. “We are building out the app for Google’s Android and Windows mobile and we hope to get the app in iTunes in spite of Apple’s restrictions.”" LOOK AT 0:31 on this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5Lt5U_pVCA He is the spokes person for ClipRoadie and then all of the sudden he is on the other team that conveniently won? Wait so did he win or did the 12 year old girl win... or are they the same person... maybe he is the 12 year old girl?
LOL maybe we should just give him a call... it only cost $1/min https://clarity.fm/vaksambath
or we could socialcam him https://socialcam.com/u/Fk6y66Ob
I wonder what 103 domain names he owes lmao http://reversewhois.domaintools.com/vak-sambath
I should be a private investigator but I couldn't help but find more about this guy after reading this post.
Can someone from Orange County please go pay him a visit at one of his many offices or his cowork space.
Go have a meal with him lmao... this is quoted from his website vaksambath.com
"Let Me Crush Your Dreams Or Not...over a meal. Please :)
If you're why is any one of these, then let's do lunch. I love free meals. Not sure what's better though: eating the actual meal or the idea? Hehe. Jk. I'll be gentle."
This isn't /b/.
I'm pretty sure that kind of suggestion is frowned on in these parts.
The funniest thing is the chart of comparisons... so many of the rows are just random things that give this watch extra checkmarks.
I also like how only this watch has the Qi battery (and separate associated checkboxes for all the charging accessories as if you'd get one without the other), but all the others seem to have a "Qi battery life"
1/ There are gullible (not necessarily dumb, by the way) people everywhere, why would Kickstarter's user base be exempt from that? Besides, Kickstarter is fairly mainstream now, so there's no reason to think it's only frequented by well-informed technology enthousiasts. The point is that they're trying to target the most gullible fraction of the website's user base, not that all of it consists of naive people.
2/ You claim it's not effective. However, it looks like they're close to reaching their goal with 300+ backers and almost 40k in pledges, so it seems to me like it works.
3/ "Either way the project gets caught at an early stage and cancelled."
This doesn't seem true. This project hasn't been taken down so far, and it looks like they were only discovered today after having run for long enough to collect 40k in pledges. Had these (alledged) scammers been more modest (40k goal, earlier deadline) they would have gotten away with it.
Besides, Kickstarter has had several cases of fraud and scam recently, so it looks like their Trust&Safety procedure has not fully matured yet (which is normal since they've recently grown big enough that this is enough of a concern to create a dedicated department). This is a concern big crowdsourcing platforms are starting to face, and for working in the fraud detection space and often discussing these matters with other tech companies I can say it's still something fairly new to them.
4/ All this discussion is completely besides the original point I was trying to make. Whether this particular instance is going to go through or not, my point was that there is something interesting about scammers in that they seem to (consciously or not) have their own culture and implicit codes, one of which being this very specific type of communication that seems egregious to most of us but could drive better conversion among their target population. I thought this was an interesting/amusing thought, but you're free to disagree.
I've also personally seen how "boring" and "ugly" web pages with lots of bold and italics and even underlines convert better than a trendier, "prettier" version. For non-spam, non-scam products.
I don't understand- converts to what? Another language?
a.) If the patent is easy to work around then it's not worth the paper it's written on
b.) You can't be saying you don't want anyone to know the details because you're not going to defend the patent by taking legal action against infringers, because you've already published how the idea works
c.) If you're patenting it in order to stop someone else claiming the IP, then why care if everyone knows what the idea is ? Why not publish the idea online as a freely downloadable paper ?
Patents are kept in force by paying the renewal fees.
Adding patent numbers could mean that extra punitive damages are able to be sought as if copying can be proven it can also be shown that the infringer knew of the patents. Jurisdiction dependent.
They are using a generic watch manufactured by some Chinese company, which means almost visually identical watches already exist on the market. They value they are adding are the custom operating system, apps and connectivity.
EDIT: I encourage anyone to comment.
That's not to mention the fact that the ONLY stretch goals are about making more apps for the watch. If you're serious about building a smartwatch you better offer people a damn good reason to buy it, not sit on your ass waiting for people to pay you to make the thing useful.
They make claims to be the hardware developer, with lots of pictures of circuitry and apparent prototyping.
It smells like a scam.
This could be going on here with the Z3 watch. Instead, we have an out of control witchhunt. I think it makes a lot more financial sense to modify a proven design than to start from scratch. If you're on kick starter, you probably don't have deep pockets and an engineering department to begin with. Not to mention that hardware is kinda a commodity now. Good software is the hard nut to crack. Think CM vs Touchwiz on the same phone.
Right, except in this case the guy claims never to have heard of it and to be making stuff from scratch, has lots of pictures of prototyping and implies it was all developed in-house, spammed his own comments section repeatedly for hours and hours with a bunch of non-answers to questions people had raised then claimed he'd been hacked and that wasn't him (but still didn't answer any questions)...
Basically acting very shady. I sure as hell wouldn't be giving him any money.
It appears that the PCB is even the same one as in the other watch.
I'd have no issue whatsoever with a KS that said "we found a pretty cool watch and we want to make it more awesome with some hardware tweaks and our own ultra-cool software stack!"
But that doesn't seem to be what's happening here.
>> maybe he was hacked( internet can become very vengeful for almost no reason )and that person/competitor succeeded discrediting the project.
It's certainly possible, though it seems that the communication in the repeatedly spammed (and then denied) message was similar in style and content to the guy's previous comms and even if you ignore that he hasn't given any answers to his backers' questions.
That is pretty misleading. I will set this to remind me in march or so and we will see the resolution( in case it's backed
EDIT: Also, Android on a Cortex-M3 (according to their video). Yeah, sure, whatever you say.
I conjecture that 3. It will become overrun with flim-flam projects if it does not change to correct 1 and/or 2. The stories are few and far between today, but inexorably there will be more and more scams. Why not? It's relatively cheap to put a scam project together, and the upside is tremendous.
We can argue about whether Kickstarter is or isn't a store until we've consumed all the oxygen in the room, but the real question is this: Are things going to get better? Stay about the same? Or get worse?
I say thing will get much, much worse unless they make changes of some kind.
All in all, I don't think it's an inescapable problem. It is perfectly possible to build scam-detection systems (we do so at Eventbrite, to prevent people pretending to be selling tickets for an event they're not actually organizers of), and although it's not easy as these crowd-sourcing grow larger they'll hopefully have more resources to put behind it.
 Like this guy: http://www.onthemedia.org/story/new-kind-kickstarter-scam-ba...
I still don't get the "it's not a store" argument (well, I understand their positioning on it). I figured the SEC would step in by now.
You give some money, and you get some (generally speaking) 1-time tangible thing back. You don't get future profits, earnings, votes, etc. in the company that created the project. Sure, you can call the funds a "pledge", a "a donation", whatever. But you're not giving money to non-profit organizations, and you're generally giving the "pledge" expecting a specific thing in return for your pledge. This is very different than dropping $100 in a Salvation Army donation box (at least to me).
Kickstarter is not a store the way PayPal is not a bank, it's just that Kickstarter hasn't yet fully caught up to PayPal's level of anti-customer business.
It is a pledge. You are pledging to give money, but not actually giving it. If they are successfully pledged enough money at the end of the time, everyone is charged. However, that doesn't mean everyone is successfully charged. It's well established that there are people who pledge but don't pay. You could meet your pledge requirements, but still have less in funding that you needed (discounting the known cut KS and CC companies take).
Point is, it's a pledge.
> I still don't get the "it's not a store" argument.
What don't you get?
> You give some money, and you get some (generally speaking) 1-time tangible thing back.
Ahh. You are missing some parts. What you really mean to say is this:
"You pledge to give them some money in the hopes other people pledge as well so that they meat some minimum requirement. If enough is pledged, the company can then continue working on whatever project they were trying to fund. Things can and will change. You may eventually get something back. You may not. It make take years longer. It may be different from what you originally pledged for. It's not always a 1-time tangible thing back."
If that's your idea of a store...
But calling it a pledge just because there are caveats attached still does not (IMO) change what people SEE Kickstarter as... I haven't heard from too many people that "pledged" money into a successfully funded project that never delivered walk away saying "Oh well, no big deal".
Kickstarter is basically leading people to believe they are going to get something very specific in return for their money. The projects even list higher-valued items for higher pledge amounts. This is much more "store"-like than it is not.
No, they don't. They've done nothing to suggest otherwise, and they continue to try and make it clear that it's not a story, you aren't buying something like in a store. They've been consistent in this manner, and have even taken steps to ensure this point is made, such as making it so you can't pledge for more than one of the items.
> But calling it a pledge just because there are caveats attached still does not (IMO) change what people SEE Kickstarter as...
If that was all they did, you might have a point. But that's so far from the truth, it's insulting.
> I haven't heard from too many people that "pledged" money into a successfully funded project that never delivered walk away saying "Oh well, no big deal".
I haven't heard from too many people that "invested" money into a successfully funded startup that never delivered walk away saying "Oh well, no big deal".
At the end of the day, the only people thinking they are "buying" something at KS are those people that don't actually read what they are "buying". At some point, you have to put the blame on the user.
So you think this page:https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/253126792/rocktm-first-...
which lists "pledge" amounts, and "rewards" does not lead people to think they are getting something in return for their money? It lists descriptions of the products, and also gives indications of limited quantities in some cases. Something that would likely not be a concern if a person had no reason to expect a physical object back from their pledge. If you have no right to expect something, why would available quantities be an issue?
"At the end of the day, the only people thinking they are "buying" something at KS are those people that don't actually read what they are "buying"."
On this we mostly agree. I just went through the pledge process on KS for this (up to the point of actually pledging). There is a whole lot more text describing the item you receive with a pledge amount than there is warning you about the caveats (one small text box that gives of an ebayish "we're just a middleman" warning), other caveats are behind links, which we all know are rarely clicked.
From the perspective of the average consumer, KS looks much more like a store/daily deal/discount style website than anything else.
Yeah, I do.
And yes, to answer your question, I think that page, which is not the first page one would visit for a project, is quite clear. I'm sorry, but KickStarter is clear as clear can be. I'm sorry, but anyone that expects something different is dumb, and I have no sympathy for them at this point.
> (one small text box that gives of an ebayish "we're just a middleman" warning)
There is a whole section called Risks and challenges on the project's main page.
There is a box clearly labeled on the pledge page that says:
"Kickstarter does not guarantee projects or investigate a creator's ability to complete their project."
Everything talks about "Estimated delivery" dates.
Not sure what KickStarter is?
At the top of the main page, right next to the name!
What is KickStarter? http://www.kickstarter.com/hello?ref=nav
> other caveats are behind links, which we all know are rarely clicked.
I'm sorry, but there is more than enough text explaining what's going on.
> From the perspective of the average consumer, KS looks much more like a store/daily deal/discount style website than anything else.
No. Only from the perspective of the below-average consumer. I'm normally tolerant of people not understanding things, but at this point, I couldn't care less. If someone is stupid enough to blindly ignore all the clear notices and wording saying exactly what they are doing and saying exactly what is really being promised, it's their own damn fault.
I've backed 20 projects and haven't had a bad experience. Things haven't always gone as planned, but I've never had an issue. I'm sorry, but if the someone can't use KickStarter like an adult, maybe it will prevent them from falling for a Nigerian scam they would have inevitably fell for.
It might be possible to set up something like a store using Kickstarter, and then to defraud people who participate. If I promise to try to build you a smartwatch and I was always planning to send you a brick wrapped in tinfoil, I've probably committed civil and criminal fraud. The court won't much care whether it's a "store," only whether I lied to get the money. But that's on me, not on Kickstarter -- federal law says that online marketplaces aren't (necessarily) liable for fraud. See the unsuccessful lawsuits against eBay, Google AdSense, and Orbitz: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_230_of_the_Communicati...
It's certainly possible for an online marketplace to become party to fraud if it's sufficiently involved, and I have no idea where that line is drawn. I am not your lawyer and this is not legal advice. That citation above could be totally wrong and those cases were probably made up by rogue Wikipedia editors. Your intuitions will be closer, though, if you think of Kickstarter as the marketplace rather than the store.
(As a side note, let me repeat that the law doesn't care whether it's a "store"; the question is whether people are being misled about the relevant facts when they decide to put money down. When people say "Kickstarter is a store," the legal argument would probably be "projects hosted on Kickstarter tend to mislead people who contribute money about the nature of the transaction, and the website's design encourages that." I know legal definitions aren't everything, but good ones tend to be handy even in non-legal settings, because they strip away hard-to-define words like "store" and replace them with easy-to-define words like "transaction" and "website".)
I guess my point is that whether or not you expect a tangible reward, the outcome of a Kickstart is unchanged: your contribution is expected to create something new in the world. If Kickstarter systematically ignores fraudulent projects and "inventors" then the problem is deeper than simply not supporting what you don't like, inasmuch as saying "if a Ponzi scheme doesn't sound good, then don't invest in it" doesn't actually make Ponzi schemes legal.
1) A donation, however phrased. In this sense, you are effectively giving money away with no expectations of any future returns of any sort. It would be for the most part "anonymous", or at the very least trackable only for the purpose of eventually allowing the recipient to say "thanks".
2) A pre-paid product purchase. In this case you're effectively combining the elements of the "group buy" concept that at least at one time was semi-popular on Internet forums (8 years ago a group of F-150 enthusiasts all got together to purchase Gaylord brand fiberglass bed covers. Standard price was $1600, IIRC, but by committing to purchase 25 units all at once, we were able to purchase them for $1200 shipped). In this case you realize that the product delivery will occur at some future date, and that you get your money back/don't have to pay if the goal is not reached. If this goal IS reached, you fully expect to receive the advertised product within a reasonable timeframe.
3) An investment. In this case you are not looking for a product, per se, but you believe the corporation has the potential to make money. Your investment buys you a share of the company, and therefore a share of future value as well. Investments carry risk, and your investment could also become worthless, or worth less than the investment amount.
Kickstarter seems to mostly attract people looking for #2 above, and most projects have some very low tier to accommodate people who only want #1 above. I'm not saying the project owner can't or shouldn't turn a profit, I was just saying that the project backers don't ever receive any part of that profit, so they are not "investors" (a term which Kickstarter seems to purposefully avoid".
You give them money which has a potential return (the reward). They anticipate the return to be as described, frequently a slight discount to a good on a certain date. This return is very rarely estimated accurately as with most returns. Usually it is at least incorrect in the date estimate, sometimes the retail price price winds up being lower than the kickstarter price, and sometimes it exceeds the estimate and you get something like a free sticker too.
You are assuming risk with your money for that potential gain, that is the trade, like an investment just your money is a tiny amount, your risk somewhat mitigated, and your gain tiny.
Of course, I don't think anyone is mistaken to think backing a kickstarter project is an investment. What you are buying with a project backing isn't the product, but a good-faith effort to complete the project. One might think kickstarter is a store, but it isn't and doesn't claim to be. Backed projects come with rewards, but they also come with an implicit and obvious 'if successful' caveat with the clear implied risk of failure.
I think this is the part where it is not a store. A store brings you something for you money. Kickstarter can cover the non "generally speaking" part where you can pledge money for nothing (you just want to push the project. i.e. $1 pledges are usually without any tangible return). I remember the Penny Arcade kickstater, where a lot of people pledge below the first tangible return, just because they liked the idea.
That's also what happens if you back an open source project, the tangible return might be highly subjective.
See also http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/kickstarter-is-not-a-store
Why shouldn't Kickstarter be considered to be a store and be bound by store-like rules?
Alternately, what if Walmart decided they weren't a store either?
All very different from your regular store where the basis of your contract is, usually via terms of service, "pay X to receive good Y within period Z".
I don't know anything about that particular case, but in general, what do you think Kickstarter can/should do about it?
The creator has been extremely silent the last few months except for claiming bankruptcy - yet that claim hasn't even been verified and the backers basically have no clue about what to do know. It would be nice if KS could jump in and help them investigating this or tell them how/where they should go to court?
Kickstarter doesn't need to act to protect backers, it needs to act to protect its own position. Hopefully, though, the same solutions will serve both ends.
On the other hand, you hear stories about projects who offer too much ("I'll paint a portrait of anyone who donates $7!"), and all their money goes to servicing those rewards.
I don't mean to excuse anyone. Obviously, not everyone is capable of running a business, and Kickstarter makes it really easy for those people to get themselves into hot water.
This morning I received a return phone call from the Indiana Southern Bankruptcy Court regarding my inquiry about Mr. Steele's bankruptcy claim. They have searched all the courts in the US and could not find any bankruptcy filings
Thanks for clarifying!
Too bad the Kickstarter guy wasn't just a little more upfront about what clearly seems to be a rebranded watch...
At least he's removed some of his claims (it is waterproof, oops now it's not; the screen is 1080p - with a 250 x 250 screen? WTF?). His last update focuses on the money going to software development (basically, the watch is the cheap Chinese Z3 watch that we bought in bulk from alibaba.com, but the apps are different).
He is just full of shit and avoids all the questions that he knows the answers to (the ones that he doesn't want to reveal publicly).
From the 'my account was hacked' spamming to the bullshit on his own website (want to make a quick buck? I'll show you how) his is a scam, 100%.
I'm sure they're motivated as hell to bring great products and on kickstarters site, they're motivated too to support those projects. But more often than not, there are people, without any knowledge on how to develop products, that i'm way to scared to give them any money.
Oh, and since a few big projects, it's only one piece of the marketing bullshit-bubble. Everyone tries to use Kickstarter as a marketing channel and people that want to solve real problems aren't mentioned anywhere.
I mean, why the fuck to rich people need to use kickstarter? There are enough examples, where people with huge piles of money try to finance their projects on kickstarter. Use your own money, damn it.
It depends how you use it. If you use it as a store, yes (though the risk can be minimized by due diligence).
> and people that want to solve real problems aren't mentioned anywhere.
What are real problems? For me a real problem was (or rather will hopefully) be solved by the Hot Smartwatch.
> why the fuck to rich people need to use kickstarter?
It's a great tool to test the waters. If you don't get funded, you probably would have thrown your money down the drain. Also I don't see a problem with using KS as a marketing tool, though the extra attention KS gets in media will probably die down in another year or two (It's already not as effective as it was at the beginning).
I'd split the thing into Kickstarter for art, and Kickstarter for products for a start
Plus, you completely lose the gauge consumer interest part. Buying shares you have to think about if other people want it. Right now you only have to think about if YOU want it.
- He considers the 240x240 display an HD display
- He claims the watch has 4GB of RAM
His Kickstarter page is so full of BS materials that anyone with just a little bit of common sense and technical knowledge about smartphones should be able to tell this is not a legitimate project.
It is related to bribery, not to scams. If you are not Brazilian, it is a racist statement, if you are it is a shameful display of low self esteem.
Also, if you are not Brazilian, come visit Rio or Sao Paulo and ask for a taxi. The taxi driver will give you a "jeitinho" (a way) to steal your money putting you in a wrong route.
And take a look at the Fifa world cup stadiums built. Someone did a "jeitinho" (or a way) to elevate their final cost or in other words, stealing public resources (money came by taxes, paid by people).
I can give you a ton of examples, but nevermind, even with my low self esteem....
But if you are Brazilian, please open your eyes and get out of your bubble.