The Kobe Red Jerky Affair
Nine days ago, The Daily Meal reported that Kickstarter shut down Kobe Red minutes before 3,252 backers would have collectively lost over $120,000 to this fake startup. Desjon Allen, the man behind this fake crowd-sourced funding campaign, is claiming that this beef jerky project is an intentional hoax.
Allen, who goes by “Desjon Deluxe,” stated on his website that he planned to fool people to show how “crowd mentality” causes people to participate in crowdfunding. He wants to create a documentary about this incident, and is now asking for crowd-sourced funding for this upcoming film.
Under a fake company called “Magnus Fun Inc.,” Allen launched a Kickstarter project promising jerky made from beer-fed, massaged Kobe cattle. The producers of Kickstarted, a documentary project about the crowdfunding revolution, contacted Kobe Red for an interview and later realized that something was suspicious after backers expressed doubts about the jerky project’s legitimacy. The Kickstarted team dug deeper and found that Magnus Fun Inc. was an unregistered company and that the Kobe beef jerky taste tests were fake, technology publication Pando Daily reported.
Jason Cooper, the producer of Kickstarted, hopes that the Kobe Red episode won’t discourage people from participating in crowd-sourcing projects. The project shutdown is “an example of crowdfunding working the way it should,” he told The Daily Meal. “With Kobe Red, enough hands were raised to see if it was legit. This is the way crowdfunding works and we need to work together to prevent these very few bad apples from getting through.”
When told about Allen’s plans to launch a Kickstarter promoting a Kobe Red documentary, Cooper responded, “I would be surprised if Kickstarter let him [Allen] create another project there. They have a set of rules on what they’ll allow and they reserve the right to cancel anything for any reason and not say why.”
Kobe Red creator Desjon Allen, however, told us his side of the story. He claims that he sent anonymous complaints to Kickstarter for two weeks, in hopes that the site would suspend his project. Under the name “Kate,” he started a “comment war” to try to reveal the truth behind his project. “The plan was if I got any funding for the fake project that I would stop the project before the funding date. This project got so much attention that I thought it would play better on film if Kickstarter suspended it,” Allen added.
If Kickstarter does approve of the new film project, the campaign will go live on Wednesday, June 26th, Allen told us. His documentary “doesn't make fun of crowd funding sites, but does take a satirical look at the people who fund projects with little or no info about it or its creators.” Allen’s inspiration for the idea came from anger at “wealthy celebrities” such as Zach Braff, who’ve asked for crowd-sourced funding. After being shown Kickstarter’s video on why celebrities crowdfund, he responded, “My thoughts on rich celebrities asking for money to fund their vanity projects is that it's simply disgusting.”
Because of the backlash against his fake Kobe Red project, Allen doubts that many would pledge money for his film. “I think I will be extremely lucky if I raise the $6300 I need to edit my film. It's far easier for people to digest a beautiful lie than a simple truth. It's not delicious imaginary jerky after all,” he said. “Although all of the people that backed Kobe Red Jerky should be thanking me for showing them the error of their ways, few will want to admit that I shed light on their shortcomings, their ‘follow the crowd’ sheep mentality. The truth hurts and I expect that that truth will certainly hurt my funding,” he continued.
Kickstarter declined to comment on the Kobe Red incident. Allen probably won’t face legal ramifications for his Kobe Red hoax, but it seems unlikely that Kickstarter will approve of his new Kobe Red: The Movie crowd-funded project.