Billed as the first $100 3D printer and scanner, it was almost too good to be true. Now, it’s a million dollar scandal that is rocking Kickstarter and Indiegogo. After two years of delays past promised shipping and nebulous updates of continuing development, Peachy Printer project head Rylan Grayston has come forward to present backers with a well crafted and graphically endowed sob story of his victimization at the hands of his business partner David Boe, whom he says built a house with over $350,000 in backer funds, leaving him broke.
Apparently, the embezzled funds can not even be fully recouped from the unfinished home.
This is a historic occasion for both the 3D printing community and for crowdfunding more generally, which has been reeling a bit from other high profile project failures (see Coolest). Mr Grayston presents himself as well intentioned. He also is a victim, he says. While that may be the case, his handling of the matter is a failure almost on a par with that of his evidently criminal business partner. Specifically, having had knowledge of this embezzlement for well over a year, as well as reason to believe the funds were in danger ever since the project was funding, Rylan Grayston did not go to the police until he had run out of money himself, nor did he report the truth to backers. Being unable to fully recoup on a supposed “repayment agreement” from his lowlife partner, Grayston has now gone public with his “plight”. I can’t bear to watch the video myself, complete as it is with fancy editing and a dubstep soundtrack. Did these jerks just spend money to tell us we got ripped off?
With today’s announcement, Peachy has revealed an elaborate website which purports to show that Peachy has been acting in good faith and place the blame entirely on the actions of David Boe. If comments on the Kickstarter and Indiegogo pages are any indication, backers feel the polished presentation only adds insult to injury.
The timeline on peachyprinter.com is meant to be exculpatory, shifting blame to Boe. What it tells me is that Grayston knew this was a problem for a long time. Instead of making the predicted delivery in October 2014, the company was broke, having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on salary. When exactly Grayston “knew” Boe had stolen the money will be a question for courts and journalists. What he did clearly know was that his company had no money and could not deliver on time.
While Grayston may have hoped that Boe would fully repay the company (he apparently did in part), the company also launched a pre-order campaign in October 2014, after it had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on salary and was nearly broke. On October 15, 2014, Peachy emailed sent the following email with the header: “The Peachy Printer Now Available!”
Two weeks later they bounced their $17,000 payroll. By mid December, 2014, this confession from Boe was apparently filmed:
Here is the period during which the theft was allegedly discovered. (via peachyprinter.com):
Unfortunately, rather than involve the police, Grayston apparently tried to eke out a product over the next year and a half. Eventually the shoestring broke, leading to today’s admission of insolvency. The internet will no doubt judge Peachy quite harshly, as they have been doing for some time already. For my part, I half believe Grayston. I backed Peachy via the Backerkit website at the $600 Beta Tester level. For my money, I was to receive two kits, one of the existing Beta product, the second of the final product launch. I did receive my kit back in May of 2014. My judgement at the time was that it was not worth my time to assemble–development was apparently somewhat rudimentary, and the promised community of Beta developers turned out to be a dud. I instead chose to wait until the final product launched, with the hope of making an easy upgrade to my part kits.
Being in possession of one of these rare Beta kits gives me somewhat more faith in the good intentions of Rylan Grayston. I have eagerly watched many updates over the last year purporting advances in development and offering revised ship dates. This small measure of faith is little consolation though and I really would like my money back. He could be accused of covering up this scandal while leaving backers in the dark. That seems incontrovertible. Perhaps the man still believed in his dream and simply saw it crumbling if he were not to save face. Maybe he thought he could really pull it off. Maybe he really believed David Boe when he agreed to pay all the money back.
Only time will tell when it comes to the true details of this scandal. Those details will no doubt come out. Grayston has even penned an open letter to authorities and requests that backers contact police as well. I’ll do that. But first I need to unload my beta kit.
How about this. I’m out $600 bucks but I’ve got a relic that is the only thing in the world separating Peachy Printer from vaporware. Now it’s on ebay. Want your own piece of history? The first $100 3D printer? No guarantee made as to function, but the parts all seem to match the packing list.
A lot of people stand to be disappointed by this state of affairs and no resolution is in sight. Perhaps the greatest loser is the idea of crowdfunding itself, which is going to need some serious revision to restore the trust of backers. Not only will Kickstarter and Indiegogo be spinning their wheels to sort this out, but little known Backerkit is going to have some explaining of its own to do. Let’s hope crowdfunding recovers.