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Patreon to World: 'We Messed Up'

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Last week recurring donation platform Patreon announced a change to its payments structure from an intuitive, once-a-month setup to a convoluted one that may as well have relied on used car salesman math. Creators and patrons alike made their displeasure known, loudly. Today the company’s CEO Jack Conte announced unequivocally that the changes won’t take place.

[Wild cheering erupts on Twitter.]

Under the maligned proposal, payment processor fees would have fallen on the shoulders of patrons, not creators. This was sold as a boon for creators, who, before they had time to celebrate, noticed donors were abandoning the platform in droves. Lo and behold, the plan of charging everyone more, more frequently did not sit well with anyone in particular, leading to claims Patreon was engaged in increased rent-seeking at the behest of its venture capital backers.


The plan’s retraction—and Conte’s subsequent apology—are reproduced below in full. Other tech CEOs would do well to learn the value of owning up to their mistakes. When was the last time you heard Mark Zuckerberg use the words “I’m sorry”?

Creators and Patrons,

We’ve heard you loud and clear. We’re not going to rollout the changes to our payments system that we announced last week. We still have to fix the problems that those changes addressed, but we’re going to fix them in a different way, and we’re going to work with you to come up with the specifics, as we should have done the first time around. Many of you lost patrons, and you lost income. No apology will make up for that, but nevertheless, I’m sorry. It is our core belief that you should own the relationships with your fans. These are your businesses, and they are your fans.

I’ve spent hours and hours on the phone with creators, and so has the Patreon team. Your feedback has been crystal clear:

The new payments system disproportionately impacted $1 – $2 patrons. We have to build a better system for them.Aggregation is highly-valued, and we underestimated that.Fundamentally, creators should own the business decisions with their fans, not Patreon. We overstepped our bounds and injected ourselves into that relationship, against our core belief as a business.

We recognize that we need to be better at involving you more deeply and earlier in these kinds of decisions and product changes. Additionally, we need to give you a more flexible product and platform to allow you to own the way you run your memberships.

I know it will take a long time for us to earn back your trust. But we are utterly devoted to your success and to getting you sustainable, reliable income for being a creator. We will work harder than ever to build you tools, functionality, and income, and our team won’t rest until Patreon is making that happen.

If you haven’t sent us a note yet, or if you don’t see your concerns listed above, please leave us your feedback here.

Thanks for continuing to create. We are nothing without you, and we know that.