Central Standard Timing first showed off its "world's thinnest" E-ink watch back in 2013, raising more than $1 million on Kickstarter to mass-produce the device. The company ran into manufacturing problems in 2015, though, and last June told backers they could no longer see a way to ship the watch. Now, the product's Kickstarter blog has been updated for what might be the final time, with legal documents officially declaring the company's bankruptcy and telling backers they're unlikely to get their money back.
When it comes to paying debts, backers are back of the queue
The post is backers only, but according to Slash Gear it contains no statements from CST at all. There's only a declaration of the company's assets (just $30,000), and its liabilities (totaling $891,563). Slash Gear says there's no explanation of where the money went and that the letter makes it clear that when it comes to paying CST's creditors, Kickstarter backers are at the back of the queue.
The full quote is: "The Trustee/Assignee has not determined whether a Kickstarter or other crowd-funding contributor is entitled to participate in a distribution, if any."
As disappointing as this news is for people who put money into the watch, it's not entirely surprising. Crowdfunding projects are unavoidably built around unfair terms for backers, and while many project creators can make brilliant prototypes and drum up funds, scaling up to full manufacturing is often too much of a challenge. Europe's biggest Kickstarter failed ignominiously and there are still ongoing disasters like the Coolest Cooler. It's a dangerous world out there, crowdfunders — watch where you put your money.