Kickstarter CEO quits but claims it has nothing to do with blockchain backlash

Aziz Hasan, the CEO of Kickstarter, is stepping down from the role after three years. He announced his departure in a blog post on the site, reflecting on his time at the company and saying he was “so proud” of the “passionate, skilled and dedicated team.”

“To our team, the backers, the creators, this entire community—you are what makes Kickstarter the creative and amazing place it is,” he continued. “Often beautiful, sometimes unusual, and always inspiring. I close my tenure here with so much gratitude and a much deeper personal connection to how powerful and impactful creative projects are in the world.” He told Fast Company that “personal reflection” is the reason he’s saying goodbye to Kickstarter on April 4, wanting to spend more time with his wife and two young children.

Hasan leaves Kickstarter behind in a strange position. At the end of 2021, the company announced it intended to put itself on the blockchain. The accompanying blog post was a pitiful grasping at straws—like most things that attempt to explain bullshit concepts are—and was subsequently mocked across the internet. Backers hated it, creators hated it, pretty much nobody appeared to be a fan except Kickstarter itself. It half-heartedly paused plans shortly after but made it clear its overall stance wasn’t changing.

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Those plans are still very much in place, Hasan told Fast Company, though “Kickstarter, as it exists today, is not sitting on the blockchain.” But they’re happening at some point, eventually, whether people like it or not. “We’re going to work so that people can see it,” he continued.

The company was also heavily criticised under Hasan’s leadership for its anti-union practices, as Vice reported. It refused to voluntarily recognise its employee union and had to settle a lawsuit in 2020 related to the firing of a key player in union drive efforts. Kickstarter employees eventually voted to form a union in early 2020, becoming the first tech company to do so.

Chief operating officer Sean Leow will act as interim CEO while the search for a replacement is underway, with which Hasan is helping out as an advisor to the company.

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