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More than 1,500 Kickstarter backers who paid a combined $209,688 for Meld’s innovative stovetop temperature control system back in May won’t be receiving their geeky cooking products after all.

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Meld co-founder Darren Vengroff accepts the award for “Hardware/Gadget of the Year” at the 2015 GeekWire Awards.

The young Seattle startup launched a Kickstarter campaign this past April for the high-tech oven knobs and an accompanying metal clip that help people control temperature throughout the cooking process. It blew past a funding goal of $50,000, ultimately raising nearly $210,000 during a campaign that ended May 8. Delivery to backers was expected next month.

However, on Friday Meld co-founder Jon Jenkins penned an update to the company’s Kickstarter page, noting that Meld was acquired last week by an unnamed large kitchenware maker. As a result, Meld decided to cancel its Kickstarter campaign and refund 1,550 backers, some of whom paid more than $429 for the cooking products.

From Jenkins’ post:

This week we reached an agreement for Meld to join forces with this company. Unfortunately, as part of this agreement we will be canceling our Kickstarter campaign to concentrate our efforts on a new product line. It was a very tough decision but we decided that it wasn’t right to ship the Meld Knob + Clip without dedicated long-term support including software and content updates.

The good news is that we will be working on a very similar product as part of the new company. If you liked Meld enough to back us on Kickstarter, I’m confident you will really love what we have coming.

Unsurprisingly, many of Meld’s original backers are not happy about this, despite the fact that they will be fully refunded.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t help but feel that you’ve used Kickstarter funding to develop a product to a point that the concept could be sold to a commercial enterprise,” wrote Tim Couchman. “I’m disappointed and would definitely hesitate to fund any future projects based on this result.”

meld543“Yeah, I feel a bit used,” wrote Jonathan Voyce. “Hope you enjoyed your free low/no interest loan to get acquired.”

“You sold your soul to the Devil,” noted Charles Alvis.

Steve Isaac, a Seattle-based entrepreneur and TouchFire co-founder who has run two successful Kickstarter campaigns, wrote that “in my darkest nightmares I couldn’t imagine pulling a move like this.”

“[What] I do know is that you’ve made it that much harder for every future Kickstarter project to have credibility,” he added. “You’re not only hurting your backers, you’re hurting the Kickstarter community as a whole. People are now going to wonder whether every successful Kickstarter project is going to ‘Pull a Meld.'”

A few people were more understanding.

“Congratulations! This makes me even more confident in the feasibility of this product line,” wrote Keith Eiler. “I’ll be looking forward to what shows up in the stores. I’m happy to have a refund rather than the product with an abandoned app.”

Some of the Meld team: Co-founder Jon Jenkins, engineer Owen Hay, engineer Mark Baumback, co-founder Darren Vengroff, and Matt Goyer, head of marketing.
Some of the Meld team: Co-founder Jon Jenkins, engineer Owen Hay, engineer Mark Baumback, co-founder Darren Vengroff, and Matt Goyer, head of marketing.

Jenkins, who headed up Pinterest’s engineering group after leaving Amazon.com in 2012, co-founded Meld with former Amazon colleague Darren Vengroff, who was previously the Chief Scientist at RichRelevance. The company won the “Hardware/Gadget of the Year” at the 2015 GeekWire Awards back in May.

Meld was also scheduled to appear at the GeekWire Summit next week during our “Inventions We Love” segment, but has since canceled due to the acquisition.

We’ve reached out to Meld for more comments on why it canceled the campaign and why it agreed to be acquired. We’ll update this story when we hear back.

Here’s the memo in full:

Dear Backers,

We’re writing with bittersweet news. Meld is joining forces with another company and we are canceling our Kickstarter campaign. We will refund 100% of all your contributions within the next month.

Whoa! What!?

Not long ago we were approached by a large kitchenware company about the possibility of working together on precision cooking products. As we got to know them it was clear this company shares our vision of helping home cooks create amazing meals by applying science to the art of cooking.

This week we reached an agreement for Meld to join forces with this company. Unfortunately, as part of this agreement we will be canceling our Kickstarter campaign to concentrate our efforts on a new product line. It was a very tough decision but we decided that it wasn’t right to ship the Meld Knob + Clip without dedicated long-term support including software and content updates.

The good news is that we will be working on a very similar product as part of the new company. If you liked Meld enough to back us on Kickstarter, I’m confident you will really love what we have coming.

Going forward we are committed to processing refunds starting immediately. The refund will appear on the credit card you used to back us. If your credit card has changed we will be in touch to sort that out. The refund process is, unfortunately, a manual one, but we expect to complete it within a month.

When we announce who acquired us and what our next product is you will be the first to know and will have first access, with preferential pricing.

The entire Meld team sincerely thanks you for your support over the last six months. We could not have gotten this far without you, and we promise you there are great things to come. If you have any questions you can reach us at kickstarter@meldhome.com.

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