Among the various fallout of Facebook’s odd consumption of Oculus is the growing notion that the various individuals who provided Oculus with ~$2.4mm in funding via Kickstarter in exchange for, well, stuff, but importantly, not equity, equity that presumably would have returned perhaps an order of magnitude more than its cost following Facebook’s purchase. The Times has the summary; Gamespot has the longer and more thoughtful musing; and Barry Ritholtz has the primal scream.

I’m going to go ahead and acknowledge #slatepitch here, but everyone complaining about this is, for the most part, wrong. Nobody was lied to or deceived. Everybody who pledged to the Kickstarter campaign signed a perfectly transparent contract exchanging their money for a concrete, well-defined deliverable, knowing full-well that “hey, maybe somebody who succeeds in designing a revolutionary improvement over existing VR helmets maybe has a big-dollar idea on their hands.” If the Ouya wasn’t a stupid idea and instead had been purchased by Apple or Roku or Amazon for billions (or even hundreds of millions) I’m sure we’d be hearing the same complaints, and they’d still be wrong. Even in the realm of “nominally transparent but fishy exchanges,” this falls well short of “old people paying subscription fees to AOL” or “Herbalife.”

Part of what is incensing people about this, crucially is the scale – crucially because it shows where the real injustice lies. There are, on Kickstarter, many projects to help “kickstart” people’s board game designs, music albums, and short films – should that board game then get picked up by Rio Grande, or that album picked up by XL, or that short film get a contract for expansion into a feature by The Weinsteins, well, isn’t that the point of Kickstarter? You help someone “kickstart” their project, and their dreams, to help them succeed at bringing some cool new creation into the world and hopefully leverage that success into a more-fulfilling career. And maybe that project, and their subsequent career, will be a more lucrative one then the more mundane pursuit they were engaged in before Kickstarter helped them find their break. And that’s OK! You didn’t ask for equity, you didn’t get it, you dig the board game or the T-shirt and life goes on.

But the investors in Oculus, collectively, just made two billion dollars.

And therein lies the real injustice. Kickstarter funders of Oculus may be thinking “hey, I pitched in to help you make a great idea happen, maybe even to make you personally financially successful, but I did not sign up to make you a billionaire.” But that gets us back to the real injustice – there shouldn’t be  billionaires! The fact that a twenty-something dude who figured out how to strap your parent’s basement to your face is now going to live a life of immense luxury, free of all wants and able to pursue any material dream, largely because another billionaire twenty-something thought “hey, I really want to wear my parent’s basement on my face,” is totally outrageous. But it only highlights the vastly deeper flaws in our current socioeconomic system, which allows and indeed catalyzes the accumulation of vast wealth by a tiny minority on relatively arbitrary bases. Nobody who gave to Oculus on Kickstarter is, or almost certainly will ever be, a billionaire. And many of them may and likely will in their lives face substantial economic hardship, hardship that would have been largely avoidable if we had a society committed to supporting the broad majority of people at the expense of the 0.1%. But right now we don’t have that society, and that’s the real injustice.

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