After an unclear acquisition, crowdfunding solutions platform BrightLocker has vanished into thin air and left “hundreds” of software developers unpaid, according to website MCV.
In a story that’s still developing, it appears that BrightLocker’s increasingly turbulent 2018 started with a total lack of communication with clients on BL’s part, eventually stopping backers’ scheduled payments on their way to the developers. In other words, individual backers sent their scheduled payments to BL to be processed and forwarded along to creators, but the payments never reached the creators.
According to the MCV article, an interview with Justin French of Dream Harvest revealed that an email was sent to select BrightLocker clients simply stating that BrightLocker is now owned by “BL HoldCo 1, LLC,” who in turn disavow any responsibility of payments promised to developers during the transition.
I personally have a Patreon page and I’d like to offer some clarity for those unfamiliar with crowdfunding. Patreon offers a service in which creators set up a page for their projects. Creators can charge by the project or monthly and at different tiers that provide different rewards. For example, I charge by the month to support my writing career – my supporters (Patrons) can send me $1 USD a month and become an official part of my sci-fi universe’s community, or $3 a month for me to email my writing projects to them in-progress, etc. At the end of the month, anyone who’s signed up receives notification of their monthly rewards and they’re automatically billed by Patreon for their set amount. This amount goes into a lump sum on Patreon and is then processed and sent to my personal checking account with a relatively small fee deducted by Patreon for its help. The reason for this is to avoid dozens or hundreds of small charges cluttering creators’ bank accounts every month, each subject to a processing fee. The halfway point – in which the website holds the incoming monthly pledges from my Patrons – is where BrightLocker’s troubles come in.
Now, I can say that Patreon is still recovering from its own (much smaller) problems with creator payments. I received an email at the end of January stating that they were having some trouble processing payments as quickly as usual for January, which resulted in a payment delay of a couple additional days. End-of-month payments for February face a similar, but more diminutive, delay.
However, the similarities to BrightLocker end there. Patreon has been relatively transparent and communicative regarding their issues; BL seems content to leave developers in the lurch and fail to provide payments as they transfer ownership. For more on this story as it breaks, keep it tuned to AIR Entertainment.