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Most Creative People

Kickstarter's Yancey Strickler On The Technology He Hates And Why He Loves Kanye

The Kickstarter CEO also explains how he's making his company more socially conscious. "That’s the punk-rock way to go."

Kickstarter's Yancey Strickler On The Technology He Hates And Why He Loves Kanye

Yancey Strickler, Then: Head of community, Kickstarter; Now: CEO, Kickstarter

[Photos: Eric T. White]

Yancey Strickler has always want­­ed Kickstarter to make a positive difference. But last fall, he took the crowdsourcing company’s do-good values a step further, reincorporating the business as a public-benefit corporation—a legal designation that lets shareholders know the company has broader goals than just making money. "That’s the punk-rock way to go: Just go all the way," says Strickler, a former music journalist. With 32 states now offering PBC incorporation and companies such as Etsy and Warby Parker making the move, the CEO believes the startup world is beginning to embrace the public-benefit concept. "I’m an eternal optimist," he says. "I believe it can get there."

As part of the transition from "Inc." to "PBC," the seven-year-old company has established a new charter that outlines rigorous ethical standards. For example, Kickstarter will not take advantage of tax loopholes, and at the end of each fiscal year, it will donate 5% of posttax profit toward arts-education programs and organizations fighting inequality. The company will also report executive-to-employee pay ratios. "We know there’s a lot to be figured out, and there are things we will have gotten wrong," says Strickler, whose company has enabled creators to raise more than $2.2 billion for Kickstarter projects. "This means we’ll be held to a higher standard than other companies. That will create difficult days, but I have no doubt that ultimately it leads to a better organization."

Yancey Strickler

Something He’s Excited About

The video for Kendrick Lamar’s "Alright." "It’s so good. There are a lot of layers of emotions."

Something He Isn’t

Voice-recognition technology. "As someone who loves conversation and other human beings, I just hate it. It feels like another little death for humanity and another outsourcing of our brain."

Who Would Be On His List Of Most Creative People

Kanye West. "He’s always seeking new ways of expression. There’s a very sincere curiosity to him."

His Favorite Kickstarter Project At The Moment

Anomalisa. "It’s a stop-motion-animation film made by Charlie Kaufman. Fans stepped up to fund this crazy script he had that’s about existential dread, with puppets. He is a legitimate creative hero."

How He Stays Productive

"I don’t have social media on my phone. The more time you spend in the stream of other people’s thoughts, the more impossible it is for you to have your own. You need space for yourself."

A version of this article appeared in the April 2016 issue of Fast Company magazine.

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