Reddit's new crowdfunding platform actually gets a lot of things right
Reddit is finally putting its fanatical community to work. The company announced today that it has created a crowdfunding portal, Redditmade, to help users "collaborate and support each other" when it comes to various projects. Based on the projects currently available through Redditmade, however, it seems more like the platform will be used to help redditors design, support, and create Reddit-related swag.
So far, most of the items are related to specific subreddits. There's a bumper sticker for r/Camping, a shirt for r/Diablo, and a pack of stickers for the site's annual Secret Santa. There's also a "Vitruvian Snoo" shirt, a shirt that supports Doctors Without Borders, and... headphones made by a company that is mostly "famous for its audio innovations and work with Ferrari."
It's not clear how Redditmade benefits Reddit the company. Staffers are supposed to contribute to everything from the product's design to the sourcing of the materials to the final process between manufacturers to consumers. But it's not clear that any funds raised through the platform will go to Reddit itself -- the closest it gets to receiving a cut, or so it seems based on Redditmade's FAQs, is through optional donations to Reddit's annual charity fund.
Despite the question of how this benefits Reddit, however, Redditmade actually seems like an interesting crowdfunding platform. It's not afraid to celebrate its existence as a place where its users can pre-order goods; indeed, instead of seeking a minimum amount of funding, projects must reach a minimum threshold of "sales" to move from half-baked idea to finished product. Instead of fighting the perception that crowdfunding platforms are stores, Reddit embraces it.
The platform also allows project creators to sell an item at cost -- meaning it's a true "for the people" project off of which no one can get rich -- or for a profit that is then divvied up however the project creator likes. (That's where the option to donate a portion of the profits to Reddit's charity fund, mentioned above, comes in.) It's not just a get-rich-quick platform built on scams, as the input from Reddit employees and these options show. It's just a real crowdfunding tool.
I still have my misgivings about venture capitalists throwing money at Reddit, mostly because of the company's handling of the celebrity nude photo leak in September and its exposure of Silicon Valley's hypocritical privacy views. But Redditmade appears to be the first self-aware crowdfunding platform that isn't going to succeed by scamming consumers out of their hard-earned money, and that's admirable in and of itself.