For anyone who followed our reporting reporting on Indiegogo’s Healbe scampaign, you need to go to The Next Web right now and read Martin Bryant’s teardown of the Ritot projection watch project, also on Indiegogo.
To Bryan’s credit, he acknowledges that his publication had initially plugged the campaign, fooled by yet another attention grabbing idea that turned out to be dishonest bullshit on closer comparison.
Ritot’s quirk is that it is a smart watch that literally projects the time and certain notifications onto your hand. It’s a fun and visually striking idea. It set out to raise $ 50,000 and with three weeks left to go on a six week run, has banked $ 688,000. Ka-ching.
But in summation, the case against Ritot is as damning as it is bizarre. The components can’t be miniaturized, a projector of that size couldn’t cast strong enough light to be visible on your hand during the daytime, the angle of the projector and the contours of the hand would produce a warped image, there’s no working prototype and it uses stock footage to promote itself.
In quite strange fashion, there’s no trace of the founders online and in an earlier version of the campaign, Ritot’s frontmen go by different names, a confusion that in a now deleted paragraph they attribute to the political unrest in the Ukraine (despite claiming to be a San Francisco, USA based company).
It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. There’s so much in common here with a story like Healbe (a company lying about its location, vague about its backstory and boasting to very impressive, yet impossible technology) or TellSpec (throwing round images of prototypes that looked ready, but they really had no idea how to make).
Ritot’s comment page on Indiegogo is far more vitriolic than Healbe’s ever became. The company isn’t processing refunds directly like Healbe, asking contributors to cancel the payment with their bank.
And guess what? Indiegogo isn’t going to a damn thing about it. Either it doesn’t want to stop fraud like this, content to bank its fee, or it doesn’t understand quite how stomped on and worthless its corporate reputation has become.
Part one of Indiegogo’s security plan is supposedly listening to the wisdom of the crowd. Just like Healbe, again the crowd has turned and it is not listening. The second rung of protection, the fraud algorithm, is useless if a campaign is guided by an actual conman, rather than a spambot.
Indiegogo lists itself as the last line defense against the Ritot’s, Healbe’s and TellSpec’s of this world. But again it is content internally to just deflect attention away with robotic sound bites.
There’s a marked similarity in tone and vaguaries here with CEO Slava Rubin’s defense of Healbe in mid-April, following our reporting on that particular scampaign.
“To date, the Healbe team has been responsive and cooperative with our inquiries. Their campaign continues to follow our trust guidelines,” Rubin said then.
I’d say it was disappointing, but heading into the back half of a shameful year of business, I couldn’t say we could expect any more from Indiegogo.