Earlier this month, I wrote about how Susan Wilson was raising funds on Kickstarter on behalf of her nine-year-old daughter Mackenzie Wilson and use the headline: “Nine-Year-Old Mackenzie Wilson Raises Over $11,000 From Kickstarter For Video Game Project.” The problem about the article I wrote was that I was notified by Penn State student Chris Seltzer that there could be a scam involved with her listing. Apparently Susan Wilson runs a company called The Judgment Group and was a founding member of a technology startup that raised $12 million in venture capital, which became kinkos.com and was sold in 2000 to Kinko’s for $100 million. In my opinion, Ms. Wilson has plenty of money to send her daughter to a computer camp, but has chosen to use Kickstarter to fund her life.
Kickstarter’s rules essentially say that it cannot be used for “fund my life” projects including projects to pay tuition.
If that weren’t enough, below is a screenshot of Kickstarter’s Community Guidelines where it explicity says that you cannot send unsolicited @-replies on Twitter:
Here is a list of unsolicited tweets that Wilson sent out:
Mackenzie Wilson ended up raising over $21,000 from the Kickstarter campaign because her mom was very active in promoting the cause. This is not the first time that Wilson used Kickstarter for a cause. She previously used Kickstarter to fund a campaign to sell capes… Yup, capes. She also tried to use Indiegogo to fund a campaign to build a smartphone case for storing keys, credit cards, etc.
Wilson has a sweet side though. She is the founder and CEO of FundHer, an organization that gives out scholarships that range between $500 and $5,000 directly to women to “start and grow businesses.” She is also an Entrepreneur in Residence at Georgetown University where she gives advice to budding entrepreneurs.
“This is quite clearly a scam and Kickstarter abuse,” said Kickstarter user Henrik on the Mackenzie Wilson post. “I’m all for women in game development and tech but supporting a (wealthy) mother begging for money for her NINE YEAR OLD CHILD is not the way to go about it. In fact, it is detrimental to the cause.”
Wilson argued that crowd-funding should not exclude wealthy people. She even pointed out the success of the Veronica Mars movie. “I want to make it clear, I’m not a millionaire,” stated Wilson in an interview with The Huffington Post. “I’m an entrepreneur and like most entrepreneurs, I put my own money into my ventures. I’m not rolling in dough … Can I afford to send my daughter to an $800 camp? Yes, but this was started because my daughter was fighting with her brothers.”
Below is a note that Wilson left on the Kickstarter page (source: DailyDot):
“They say I’m scamming and manipulating. This is a campaign for $800. The crowd spoke up and I got attacked because $20,000 got raised. That wasn?t me, I didn?t do that. The crowd did,” she added. Wilson received death threats for the campaign so she sent a message to Kickstarter and said that she received negative feedback. Kickstarter responded by saying that she has their full support.
So did Ms. Wilson do something wrong by using crowdfunding for her daughter’s computer science camp tuition? Perhaps. Does she deserve death threats. Definitely not. Wilson plans to take a vote on what should be done with the extra money that was raised. Stay tuned to see what happens next.