💰 From Kickstarter To #1 On Amazon

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💰 From Kickstarter To #1 On Amazon

It’s New Year's Eve 2009 and 8 college kids sit on a basement floor with a card game they created for their huge group of awkward friends.

With nothing but a love for games and a strange sense of humor…

These 8 kids turned this card game into a $500M company within 15 years.

The game?

Card Against Humanity.

Since 2009, Cards Against Humanity has:

  • Raised over $15K on Kickstarter

  • Ranked #1 Best Selling Game on Amazon

  • Made over $500M in revenue

This is the story of Cards Against Humanity, and how a Kickstarter project turned into a $500M cult of ‘horrible people’ via insane publicity stunts.

Here’s what we’ve got for ya:

  • 🧠 8 Kids. 1 Crazy Idea.

  • 💩 “A Box Of Bullsh*t”

  • 🚫 The Anti-Business

Read Time: 5 min 11 sec

🧠 8 Kids. 1 Crazy Idea.

Cards Against Humanity began as a makeshift answer to a few bored college kids.

The 8 founders loved party games. However, they felt they missed two things:

  1. Jokes that were funny to a college student

  2. The ability to play with more than 4 people

Founders: Max Temkin, Josh Dillon, Ben Hantoot, David Munk, Daniel Dranove, Eli Halpern, Eliot Weinstein, and David Pinsof

The game is simple - Every round, one player asks a question from a black card. Then everyone answers the question with a white card from their hand.

The one with the funniest answer wins the round.

In its early days, Cards Against Humanity was a 15-page PDF of questions and answers.

As it became popular on their campus, the 8 founders posted their PDF on Kickstarter (a crowdfunding site).

The Kickstarter listing

The game was 100% free on Kickstarter. All they asked for was an email and a pledge.

“Nobody had ever heard of us, so making the entire game available for free was a great marketing tool. Even if someone downloaded the game instead of pledging to our project, they would play with some friends who might.” - Max Tempkin

In their first 18 months, the game had over 1,600 downloads.

(PS - You can still download the entire game for free from their site. Here’s a link)

With about 16,000 emails collected, they sent a mass email offering their official Cards Against Humanity deck for $15.

This one email made them $15,570.

A few months later, they listed their game on Amazon. In 6 days they were the #1 selling card game on Amazon.

In their first year, they made over $12M in rev.

But they didn’t stop there…

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💩 “A Box Of Bullsh*t”

After their first successful year, Cards Humanity grew from $12M in revenue to $500M via a few insane marketing stunts.

By year three, everyone was asking the same question…

Is this business just 8 kids spending money on stupid things, or are they marketing masterminds?

My opinion?

A little bit of both.

Here are three dangerously stupid marketing strategies that made them thousands:

#1 - The Box Of Bullsh*t

In 2014, Cards Against Humanity sold people a box of cow manure for Black Friday.

Each box costs $6.

They sold out in less than 2 hours, making $180K in rev.

“We’ve removed the game from our store… Instead, we’re offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy some new bullsh*t.”

No. I’m not kidding.

#2 - RIP Picasso

In 2016, Cards Against Humanity bought an original 1962 Picasso painting

for $2.25 million.

They then asked their fans to vote on what to do with the painting…

Option A) Donate it to a museum

Option B) “Laser-cut it into 150,000 tiny squares and send everyone their scrap of a real Picasso.”

A photo of the card they sent to voters

72% said donate. 28% said laser it.

Was this worth over $2M?

Maybe. Maybe not.

But they sure received a lot of attention.

#3 - The Holiday Hole

Now don’t overthink this one. It’s as stupid as it sounds…

Cards Against Humanity asked people to donate money to dig a big hole…

Then fill it back up.

“As long as you keep spending, we'll keep digging.”

The Holiday Hole (hour 49)

The dig lasted 3 days nonstop and raised over $100K.

More on this:

🚫 The Anti-Business

You have to remember…

These founders were college students with no experience.

They didn’t want a multi-million dollar business. They wanted a fun card game.

So as their business grew, they repeatedly made ‘anti-corporate’ decisions that most would consider fatal to a business.

For instance…

  • The business operated as a side hobby with the 8 founders splitting up tasks. No one worked full-time in the business and all worked 9-5s.

  • For its first 5 years, most of the profit went to game consoles, alcohol, and sunglasses.

  • They wouldn’t let major retailers like Walmart or Target sell their game for the first few years. They said it would ‘cheaper their brand.’

Every decision they made seemed to be in the interest of not making money.

But as with their marketing, their anti-corporate style is what makes them so popular.


Because even if they didn’t do it intentionally…

Cards Against Humanity has built a rebellious reputation that its target audience (college students) identifies with.

And as we’ve seen with Liquid Death, Rolex, and luxury items…

A winning brand does not rely on a product. They rely on status.

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