“Crowdfunding is just capitalism by another name,” according to one of the attendees I spoke with at Activate Summit in July.
I get why he felt that way after such a long day of talks – a steady stream of crowdfunding experts with relentless enthusiasm talking about how it’s going to change everything. It did feel like going to crowdfunding church with all that hype. But he was complaining to the wrong person. I’m in the camp that believes the market-making fueled by crowdfunding is much more important than just another flavor of capitalism.
Crowdfunding is an enabler of the total overhaul of every aspect of production of everything.
Perhaps this is revisionist history before it’s time, but I’m hopeful we’ll look back at the many institutions created by and because of the industrial revolution designed intentionally to prefabricate the world for consumption purposes in the name of profit and see them eroding over time, replaced with people-powered processes and products that help us to create and grow things, to strengthen our relationships to each other, the institutions that support us and the environment.
At a basic level we’re seeing people take back control of production.
People are using these new crowdfunding markets to get backing for ideas before they are made, a step in the production process that bakes in the customer appetite when it gets released. The manufacturing process for just about everything increasingly relies on a distributed networked supply chain rather than a string of dependencies and expensive capital investments. And distribution increasingly happens through a lifecycle of development, evolution and re-distribution rather than a one-time manufacture-and-deliver model.
At a macro level we are witnesses to a deconstruction and redistribution of every aspect of making things – a revolution with deeper implications than we initially imagined when the Internet first became a thing. The American dream is being realized at super scale.
Academics will surely call this era “Preconstructionism” or some sort of similar term that symbolizes the change in emphasis from the output of things to the process of creation itself.
While many aspects of the manufacturing process have already opened up and become collaborative experiences, it wasn’t until crowdfunding came along that the new production model found a consistent supply of commercial fuel. And now that the marketplace has its method of payment established I think we’re about to see enormous growth in this space.
It’s quickly becoming a viable reality for all types of production from consumer electronics, to real estate projects to journalism as we’re doing with Contributoria.
Yes, crowdfunding can be considered capitalism by another name, but that’s like saying the Internet is just another media channel. Super investor John Doerr once famously said during the first dotcom boom that the Internet is underhyped. Similarly today I think we’re miles away from crowdfunding’s peak hype and even further from realizing it’s full potential.