At only 34, Everette Taylor is CEO of Kickstarter, the world’s leading crowdfunding platform for creatives

BY Preta Peace Namasaba February 16, 2024 11:36 AM EDT
Everette Taylor. Photo credit: Kickstarter

Becoming CEO has been a lifelong goal that Everette Taylor had been working toward. Along the way, he had to turn down multiple offers from prominent brands offering, among other tings, the position of chief marketing officer. Taylor made his dream career transition in 2022 when he was appointed CEO of Kickstarter, the world’s leading crowdfunding platform for creatives. Two years on, the 34-year-old is changing the fortunes of the crowdfunding platform.

Like some of the fundraisers whose lives are turned around by the funds raised on the platform he oversees, Taylor had a rough childhood. As a teenager, he battled homelessness and at times found himself hustling to make ends meet. He sold drugs and would have ended up in prison if it wasn’t for his mother’s intervention. She forced him to get a job and he landed a position as a junior marketing assistant for bookstores and museums across Virginia. This was the start of a long love affair with marketing, and the making of a promising career that would eventually lead Taylor to a CEO position.

“Marketing kind of saved my life, in a lot of ways. It taught me a new skill set. It got me off the streets. It opened my world up to places I could never have imagined when I was living in Southside, Richmond,” Taylor said about how he turned around his life.

He attended Virginia Polytechnic University but dropped out to pursue entrepreneurship. Taylor founded EZ Events, an event marketing software company, which he sold two years later. He then secured the head of marketing position at Qualaroo, a behavioral insight survey software startup that was acquired by Xenon Ventures in 2014. While at Qualaroo, Taylor started GrowthHackers, an online growth hacking community and software as a service (SaaS). He founded ET Enterprises to oversee a diverse portfolio of companies that includes PopSocial, MilliSense, ArtX, Southside Fund, Hayver, GrowthHackers, and Savant.

His first foray into the C suite was as chief marketing office (CMO) for the e-commerce company StickerMule. For a year, Taylor led substantial growth for the company as its youngest-ever executive. He moved on to Skurt, where he served as CMO until its acquisition in 2018.  An established creative marketing entrepreneur at the time, he partnered with actress Zoe Saldana to launch the media platform BESE and the drug and alcohol addiction prevention app Hayver.

Before joining Kickstarter, Taylor served as CMO for the online art marketplace Artsy, the world’s biggest virtual marketplace for buying and selling art by leading artists. It was his first time working with a large corporation and that groomed him for the career transition to CEO.

“Artsy really prepared me for this role in a lot of ways. I remember going into Artsy, because I hadn’t been a CEO before, I had been CMO before, at different companies, but never a company at the scale of Artsy, right. And the amount of business lines we had, the amount of people using our platform, etc., etc. and I learned a lot, it was really important,” Taylor said.

In 2022, Taylor took over as CEO of Kickstarter. He became the first Black person in the company’s C-suite and one of the few Black CEOs in big tech. But he was also in a prime position to fulfil the company’s mission to “help bring creative projects to life”. As of 2023, Kickstarter had received $7 billion in pledges from 21.7 million backers to fund 233,626 projects across films, music, stage shows, comics, journalism, video games, board games, technology, and publishing, among others. But when Taylor took over, the crowdfunding platform had been through a few turbulent years.

Kickstarter had experienced challenges with its newly formed union and faced backlash following news that it planned to move its offerings to the blockchain. It had also faced a tough time during the pandemic prompting a layoff of around 40 percent of the staff. Taylor immediately refocused the platform’s identity by highlighting creator success stories such as Issa Rae’s web series “Awkward Black Girl” where it was an early funder. He introduced two new business lines, the first ever in the company’s history, to strengthen revenue and the core crowdfunding industry and business. The company has since bounced back, experiencing unprecedented crowdfunding and revenue growth.

Taylor is also focused on innovation and making crowdfunding equitable and accessible. He is the driving force behind Forward Funds, a program that brings money onto the platform and supports individual projects, especially those from creators of color and underrepresented backgrounds. The 34-year-old CEO is currently scaling the program to bring millions of dollars on a platform each year to support creators of color. With a more diverse creator base, backer base and executive team, he is keeping the brand culturally relevant.

For the first time in his career, Taylor isn’t working in marketing but he maintains a similar mindset in leading Kickstarter forward. He is optimistic about what the future holds.

“Every failure is part of the puzzle that leads you to the overall picture that is supposed to be your life. [I don’t] focus on what could go wrong. I think more optimistically. There’s always going to be another job, there’s always going to be another opportunity out there. Why not go for it when you can?,” he quipped.