So I was going through my inbox and saw an update from one of the projects I backed the peachy printer a 100 dollar SLA (laser + resin) based 3d printer.
The title "Bad News" didn't bode well for the content of the update but it was far worse than I was expecting.
It seems that (at least according to the project head tech guy) sometime in 2014 the money man for the project used 350K of the kickstarter money to fund construction of his house rather than build 3d printers. Apparently the project team discovered this in 2015 sometime and at the time the guy was planning to pay this back as his house got mortgaged and he supposedly did pay 100k of the money and they kept quiet about this until now assuming they could work things out or secure alternate sources of income assuming if the embezzlement was know any chance of getting more money would go out the window.
They finally announced this as they've run completely out of money and have had to cease operations. The update was accompanied by a video of the money guy admitting he embezzled the money and a load of paperwork and recordings details of the police people who are looking into the case. An attempt to forestall people claiming the whole thing was a scam.
I've had projects fail due to unrealistic plans unforeseen complications or just good old fashioned incompetence but this is the first time criminal behavior was the downfall.
I did have one where the two people who started the campaign had some sort of falling out and then one initiated legal proceedings against the other and swallowed up all the kickstarter money for legal fees and settlement, so I guess that comes close.
It seems an unfortunate end to a promising idea and as far as I can tell from the many technical updates and reported beta printer examples then thing works and supposedly meets it's 100 dollar price tag. It had some interesting and innovative solutions to the printing that reduced the cost and kept the machine simple. Now they have made all their design files and software open source (most of it had been anyway even before this) so maybe it will live on that way the current stumbling block when making the thing is the laser certification which they don't have and without that you can't sell a laser based machine.
There doesn't seem to be much hope of the project succeeding I suspect the legal issues will strangle it.
This morning the BBC had the story and already it seemed the money guy was trying to weasel out of it claiming the video he confessed in was made under "extreme duress" so I guess he's hoping the cops won't know what to do with this sort of new legal situation and that he can just wander off with a fancy new house which a load of internet nerd paid for.
From what I've seen I don't think this was some sort of scam on the project peoples part it was perhaps poor planning and some naivete that led them to allow the kickstarter money to go into someones personal account where it couldn't be monitored and maybe the guy was genuine in his thought that he could "borrow" the money and have it back before it was missed.
Maybe someone will pick up the files and produce the thing but otherwise I think this is just the sort of loss you have to assume might happen with kickstarter projects.
Mainly I want to know which part of that house I own.