Looking for Daddy Techbucks: Parallella needs funding

Amanda ****** Palmer raised almost $1.2 million on Kickstarter for art but the Parallella project is struggling to reach its $750,000 goal ... where are all of the Silicon Valley high-rollers who could jumpstart this great idea?

Amanda Palmer, known to her fans by the soubriquet "Amanda ****** Palmer" and wife of noted author Neil Gaiman, raised almost $1.2 million on Kickstarter back in May.

Let me make that clear ... $1,200,000! Actually it was $1,192,793 ... that's 119,279,300 pennies! Stacked on top of each other that's a pile 114 miles tall weighing some 408 short tons (but only if they are all pre-1982 cents, otherwise they'd weigh only 328 short tons as the US Mint changed the metallic composition of the US cent from bronze to copper-plated zinc in, natch, 1982. Of course, if you had a mix of pre- and post-1982 pennies then you'd be somewhere in between those weights, but I digress).

So, is Ms. Palmer going to change the world? Well, I think not, at least, not in anything but a cultural way. With that mountainous pile of cash (less Kickstarter's 5% fee) she's going to make a new music album and an art book and do a world tour with The Grand Theft Orchestra (if only I'd been able to afford the $5,000 pledge and have ukulele-wielding Palmer turn up for a house party).

And good on her. I like Ms. Palmer, I like her music, and I like her style, but why, oh why, can she raise $1.2 million for a music project when Adapteva, the company I discussed last week here in Gearhead and which is trying to bring ultra-low cost Parallella supercomputers to market, is struggling to reach its goal of $750,000?

As of this writing the Parallella project is funded to the tune of just under $285,000 with 17 days to go. Assuming backers will keep on appearing and extrapolating the trend to the project's funding close date of Oct. 27, the final funding might be roughly $660,000 which will be something around 12% short of the target and that, my friends, will be a real shame.

In the last few days Adapteva has released its Architecture Reference Manual and Software Reference Manual in an effort to show potential backers what they've got to offer. This is pretty cool because originally the company was going to release these documents only if they reached funding of $500,000 by the middle of their campaign. Given that these are commercially valuable materials that give away commercially valuable product details it is, as Adapteva's Kickstarter Update #4 notes "The release of the docs is a big scary step for us (point of no return)."

Why is Adapteva struggling to get funding for such a compelling project? I think there are several issues involved: First, Adapteva is just four people and that limits how much effort they can put into any additional projects alongside running their existing business.

Second, Adapteva isn't using social media particularly well which is a big mistake. They have, for example, no Facebook presence and only Adapteva's CEO, Andreas Olofsson, has a Twitter account with just 538 followers.

Third and finally and to my surprise, no Silicon Valley "high-rollers" are stepping up to add to the funding.

Given how many technology-created gazillionaires are out there you'd think one or two would step up and get this project rolling! Forget the commercial opportunities that the Parallella project offers; the educational opportunities offered by low-cost parallel processing should alone encourage a Daddy Techbucks to pony up ... or am I missing something?

I believe in the crowdfunding concept. Kickstarter and Indiegogo have shown that there's a real marketplace for launching novel ideas and that people really do care about innovative projects, but sometimes the hoi poli's investment ability just isn't enough.

So, if you get how cool the Parallella project is and how great its potential is then tell your geek friends to become backers or, at the very least, to tell their other friends about it. Maybe some of their friends will have deep, money-lined pockets and then, maybe, we'll get cheap parallel computing. Until then, it looks like we'll be hearing a lot more from Amanda ****** Palmer.

Gibbs is excited and dismayed, in parallel, in Ventura, Calif. Throw a few cycles to backspin@gibbs.com and follow him on Twitter and App.net (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater).

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