Crowd Con­trol

The de­vel­op­ers of these five prod­ucts be­gan with mod­est crowd­fund­ing goals and ended up rais­ing more cash than they ever imag­ined.

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1. Star Cit­i­zen

Ini­tial goal: US$500,000 ($695,000) To­tal raised: US$194 mil­lion ($270 mil­lion) — and ris­ing

Video-game de­signer Chris Roberts had a hunch his idea for an in­ter­stel­lar trad­ing and com­bat game would spark the imag­i­na­tion of gam­ing en­thu­si­asts — but vastly un­der­es­ti­mated what they would pay. A Kick­starter cam­paign in 2012 hit its ini­tial goal fast, even­tu­ally mak­ing about US$6 mil­lion ($8.34 mil­lion). Since then, it’s raised US$194 mil­lion — and the full game hasn’t even been re­leased yet. Roberts is us­ing the funds to ex­pand his vi­sion, in­clud­ing cre­ation of new lan­guages. www.robertss­pacein­dus­tries.com.

2. Ocu­lus Rift

Ini­tial goal: US$250,000 ($348,000)

Sold for: US$2 bil­lion ($2.78 bil­lion)

In true Sil­i­con Val­ley ‘rags-to-riches’ style, video game fan Palmer Luckey (his real name) be­gan tin­ker­ing with vir­tual-re­al­ity gear in his par­ents’ garage. De­cid­ing to build a vir­tual-re­al­ity head­set, he founded a com­pany called Ocu­lus in 2012 and then launched a Kick­starter cam­paign, which raised US$2.5 mil­lion ($3.48 mil­lion) — 10 times his goal. But the true value came from the cam­paign’s pub­lic­ity: cor­po­rate in­vestors came knock­ing, and Ocu­lus was sold to Face­book for US$2 bil­lion. The com­pany’s first head­set, the Ocu­lus Rift, was re­leased in 2016. www.ocu­lus.com.

3. Peb­ble

Ini­tial goal: US$100,000 ($139,000)

To­tal raised: US$10 mil­lion ($13.91 mil­lion) Dutch­man Erick Migi­cov­sky made waves when his 2012 Kick­starter cam­paign to fund a watch with cel­lu­lar con­nec­tiv­ity reached its $100,000 tar­get in 24 hours. Soon he had raised more than US$10 mil­lion, val­i­dat­ing his the­ory peo­ple wanted a gad­get to field emails and texts with­out fish­ing around in their pock­ets. (He him­self was a cy­clist who got sick of look­ing at his phone while rid­ing.) The first Peb­ble watch was re­leased in 2013 and is con­sid­ered the foun­da­tional prod­uct in the ‘smart­watch’ cat­e­gory.

4. EOS

To­tal raised: US$4 bil­lion ($5.56 bil­lion)

If you’re still grap­pling with the tech­ni­cal de­tails of blockchain tech­nol­ogy and cryp­tocur­ren­cies, it’s time to catch up, judg­ing by the stag­ger­ing funds raised by Block.one. In May, the Cay­man Is­lands­based com­pany an­nounced it had sold US$4 bil­lion worth of its pro­pri­etary cryp­tocur­rency, EOS coin, on a year-long crowd­fund­ing process — be­com­ing the largest crowd­fund­ing re­sult in his­tory. In­vestors can use EOS coin to buy space on its ‘blockchain op­er­at­ing sys­tem’, EOS, de­signed to sup­port com­mer­cial de­cen­tralised ap­pli­ca­tions. www.block.one.

5. Glow­forge

Ini­tial goal: US$100,000 ($139,000)

To­tal raised: US$27.9 mil­lion ($38.8 mil­lion)

By 2015, Glow­forge co-founders Tony Wright and Dan Shapiro had al­ready raised US$9 mil­lion ($12.52 mil­lion) in in­sti­tu­tional funds for de­vel­op­ment of their 3D laser cut­ter. But they thought crowd­fund­ing round one of pro­duc­tion would help mea­sure de­mand, and build con­sumer re­la­tion­ships. The re­sult — al­most US$28 mil­lion in or­ders — blew them away. “We needed to raise $100,000 to place our fac­tory or­der,” said Shapiro. “I was op­ti­mistic that this might even be a mil­lion-dol­lar cam­paign. We hit that in the first day.” www.glow­forge.com.

FROM FAR LEFT Ocu­lus Rift VR head­set; the Glow­forge Ba­sic 3D laser prin­ter.

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