Brian Krausz

I build internet things

Diaspora’s Upfront Costs

May 27, 2010

This post on Hacker News got me thinking about the costs Dispora’s going to have receiving all of their money and fulfilling their promises, so I did a little digging. The numbers below are estimates, but they should be fairly close to actual costs for these services (assuming no huge burst in donations over the next 6 days):

$ 5510 = $190k * 2.9% Amazon fees[1]
  1800 = 6k donations * $0.30 Amazon fees
  9500 = $190k * 5% for Kickstarter
  4150 = 5000 cds with jewel cases * $0.83 (random googling, I assume the "note from our team" will be on the jewel case insert)
  1380 = 400 sheets of stickers * $3.45 (zazzle, 20 sheet of stickers, 2 stickers per person)
 10200 = 3000 shirts * $3.40 (customink, Gildan 50/50 1 color on white front only)
  9000 = 3000 postage & packaging for shirts + stickers * $3
  2000 = 2000 postage & packaging for just stickers * $1
  1200 = "Turnkey hosting" for 600 people[2]
  2800 = 4 new computers\*$700

[1] I’m not sure if Kickstarter gets a bulk discount here, or if it’s Dispora’s account history, so a volume discount may apply. I also assume all transactions are billed at the $10+ rate (2.9%) rather than the [2] Turnkey hosting and phone support are hard to estimate…it may be more if they need to pay for phone support, but I think this is a reasonable number. I’m also including project hosting costs. I know they say plenty of hosting companies have offered their services, but you can’t guarantee that will be there.

Keep in mind that this misses three big points:

  1. Declined credit cards & canceled/fraudulent donations — I have no clue what the expected amount of these is
  2. People who requested a gift for donating who never give their contact info
  3. The huge overhead for packing/sending all of these items, though I imagine a day of pizza and soda for volunteers can get all of them packed (the con I used to help run had similar “mailing parties” that were fairly effective)

With that in mind you’re looking at about 25% of the funding going toward transaction fees and fulfilling the rewards. This leaves around $142,000 left for them, which is still plenty of money. Though I don’t want to think about what an accountant would say about this money and how much he would charge to make it legitimate.

Don’t get me wrong: I think Diaspora is a great idea and I’d love to see it succeed, but I wonder if the founders considered the logistical overhead to this whole thing. Granted, this would have been smaller had they only raised $10k, but it’s still a big task to undertake. I hope they’re ready for it and they don’t let us down.

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