Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Independent ISP Tries to Raise $325M on Indiegogo to Launch a Satellite (Kinda)

Heard all the feel-good stories about crowdfunded hardware at CES this year? Well, how’s this for a really ambitious crowdfunded hardware project: MonkeyBrains, the San Francisco-based indie ISP, is trying to raise $325,000,000 on Indiegogo in order to put a satellite in space. It’s certainly the largest online crowdfunding campaign I’ve ever seen.

MonkeyBrainsIndiegogoMonkeyBrains has so far raised a little more than $10,000 from 17 backers, and it’s committed to give all that funding back if it doesn’t reach its goal by Feb. 19.

But the thing is, MonkeyBrains doesn’t actually want a satellite — as the campaign pitch puts it, “Our initial research seems to indicate having a satellite in orbit may not speed up your internet at all.” The company’s pitch video talks up the potential of UFOs.

Instead, MonkeyBrains founder Rudy Rucker said that the crowdfunding campaign is a roundabout stunt attempting to call attention to “the failure of the City of San Francisco’s Department of Technology to lease us city fiber.”

Rucker wrote in an email, “Right now, there is a need for faster Internet in San Francisco. We are filling that gap with wireless, but a fiber to the home network would set the bar 100 times higher. Our current plan (without funding) is to get our CLEC status, stay self-funded, and slowly roll it out, but if we get the funding, we’ll dive in faster.”

As for the Indiegogo campaign? “The goal is high, but the satellite campaign is set to ‘fixed funding’ as I don’t want anyone to be shy about donating $1,000 or $10,000,” Rucker said. “Wouldn’t it feel great to risk $1,000 for something awesome with little risk of losing that money? It would feel 100 times better to put $100,000 on the line — and maybe you can use it as a tax shelter — so go for it!”

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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle