Last week recurring donation platform Patreon announced a change to its payments structure from an intuitive, once-a-month setup to a convoluted one that may as well have relied on used car salesman maths. Creators and patrons alike made their displeasure known, loudly. Today the company's CEO Jack Conte announced unequivocally that the changes won't take place.
Image: Jack Conte
[Wild cheering erupts on Twitter.]
Over the past four years Patreon has grown to become the de facto funding model for independent creators online - a platform where supporters pledge small monthly recurring donations that better support an enduring career instead of the need Kickstarter or GoFundMe's per-project setup fills. But an overhaul of its fee structure announced yesterday has creators furious and patrons leaving in droves.
The plan's retraction - and Conte's subsequent apology - are reproduced below in full. Other tech CEOs would do well to learn the value of owning up to their mistakes. When was the last time you heard Mark Zuckerberg use the words "I'm sorry"?
Creators and Patrons,
We've heard you loud and clear. We're not going to rollout the changes to our payments system that we announced last week. We still have to fix the problems that those changes addressed, but we're going to fix them in a different way, and we're going to work with you to come up with the specifics, as we should have done the first time around. Many of you lost patrons, and you lost income. No apology will make up for that, but nevertheless, I'm sorry. It is our core belief that you should own the relationships with your fans. These are your businesses, and they are your fans.
I've spent hours and hours on the phone with creators, and so has the Patreon team. Your feedback has been crystal clear:
The new payments system disproportionately impacted $US1 ($1) — $US2 ($3) patrons. We have to build a better system for them.Aggregation is highly-valued, and we underestimated that.Fundamentally, creators should own the business decisions with their fans, not Patreon. We overstepped our bounds and injected ourselves into that relationship, against our core belief as a business.
We recognise that we need to be better at involving you more deeply and earlier in these kinds of decisions and product changes. Additionally, we need to give you a more flexible product and platform to allow you to own the way you run your memberships.
I know it will take a long time for us to earn back your trust. But we are utterly devoted to your success and to getting you sustainable, reliable income for being a creator. We will work harder than ever to build you tools, functionality, and income, and our team won't rest until Patreon is making that happen.
If you haven't sent us a note yet, or if you don't see your concerns listed above, please leave us your feedback here.
Thanks for continuing to create. We are nothing without you, and we know that.