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Kickstarter co-founder talks up Veronica Mars and site's growth

The stampede to fund a Veronica Mars movie is "sort of like a perfect storm," according to Kickstarter co-founder and head of communications Yancey Strickler.

Kicking off the Engadget Expand event in San Francisco over the weekend, Strickler acknowledged that the Veronica Mars movie is the latest sensation to take Kickstarter by storm, following on the heels of crowd-funded projects like the Pebble smartwatch and the Ouya game console.

"We're excited that people responded to that project, and it'll be interesting to see how it works out," he said, brushing aside the notion that a mainstream property like Veronica Mars being funded on Kickstarter would diminish the "indie" cred of the site.

In less than a day, the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign topped $1 million, which a Kickstarter spokesman confirmed is the fastest a project has ever reached that number. The previous record was held by the Kickstarter for the new Ultima game, Torment: Tides of Numenera, which reached $1 million in about seven hours. The Veronica Mars project hit $1 million in 4 hours and 24 minutes, Kickstarter said.

A Veronica Mars film has been on fans' minds since the TV series was cancelled in 2007. There were a few false starts along the way, but funds and scheduling issues have delayed the effort. The project ended up hauling in more than $2 million in pledges over 24 hours, causing show creator Rob Thomas, who turned to Kickstarter on a hunch, to gush: "Holy cow, what a day."

Kickstarter, though known more for crowd-funded tech, has a pretty strong track record for getting movies off the ground.

"Ten per cent of the films at Sundance [this year] raised money on Kickstarter," Strickler noted, adding that 63 Kickstarter-funded films have made it into theaters, including Academy Award-winning documentary short Inocente.

The site's backers have also funded journalists and recording artists—and there's even been a Kickstarter-funded opera, Paola Prestini's Oceanic Verses, which premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC last year.

But tech remains the engine that's driven Kickstarter since its launch on 28 April, 2009. The top 10-funded projects on the site are a mix of hardware ventures like the Pebble and Ouya, and video games like Project Eternity and Double Fine Adventure.

What makes Kickstarter special, according to Strickler, is the collaboration between creators and backers, which he said offers unmatched transparency into the process of going from an idea for a product through to manufacturing and shipping it.

"Kickstarter is sort of like a store but it's way better than a store," he said. "It's a place where people are coming together to make things. ... There's a radical transparency to this, where everybody watches and discusses all of your moves as you go from funding to shipping a product.

"So by being a backer of the Pebble you know what it's like to make something in China … you know that Chinese New Year's is a really tough time to get something done," Strickler added, pointing to videos posted by Pebble during its manufacturing process as the startup raced to ship its smartwatches to Kickstarter backers.

With additional reporting by Stephanie Mlot.