"It's not just 'Portlandia,'" Strickler says proudly. "We were also in The New Yorker, McSweeney's, The Onion, 'The Daily Show.' Everyone had a Kickstarter joke this year. We're very mockable."
That level of pop-culture saturation inevitably sparks a backlash. Kickstarter's began with the delay of several high-profile projects like the Pebble E-Watch and a handful of outright scams like Mythic, a purported video game whose campaign page included plagiarized photos and text.
In June, gaming blog Polygon posted a long article about Kickstarter delays and vaporware, and Kickstarter's hands-off approach to dealing with them. Polygon's conclusion: "With Kickstarter it's always buyer beware."
NPR followed up in September with its own questions about missed shipment deadlines and Kickstarter's refund policy. The company clarified the issue in a response post on its blog: "Kickstarter doesn't issue refunds."
It hammered the point home soon after with a blunt post titled: "Kickstarter Is Not a Store."
The widely discussed declaration was a watershed moment, underlining the site's ethos -- that pledges are essentially donations, not e-commerce transactions -- and tightening the rules on project creators.
"This [post] had been in the air for a while," Strickler says. "We knew the site was going crazy, and when you see things changing, you have to take a step back."
Haughey, the angel investor, says the post was part of Kickstarter "going through a correction this year. After a few large-scale tech projects run into some problems, they do muddy the waters. It did make it seem like a store. It was complicated."
He thinks Kickstarter is "in a weird recalibration point right now." The hype is fading, and he sees that as a good thing: "I've seen my friends not so wildly backing things, and everything getting a little more realistic."
Chris Sacca, another early Kickstarter investor, disagrees.
"Recalibration period? No," Sacca says. "I think they are experiencing the same cliché press cycle that all successful companies experience."
Speaking for Kickstarter, Strickler stakes out a middle ground. He knows that his creation has wandered into new territory. Expectations are higher, and accountability is a growing concern.
Kickstarter has quietly clamped down on intake process, turning down a much larger share of the hardware projects that come its way. "Kickstarter rejects" are becoming their own subgenre of the do-it-yourself field.
Still, Strickler is confident that his company can navigate its way through the shifting terrain.
"There's two sides to it," he says. "There's the backers and the creators, and you're trying to calibrate expectations for each. It's a dance, and it takes time. When you're creating new mechanisms for something as fundamental as innovation, it can take a while to get there."