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Subject: Previous Kickstarter undelivered, and possible obligations unmet rss

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Starla Lester
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Let me state up front that I sincerely hope The Agents becomes a reality, because I really want to play it, too.

So I am NOT trying to sabotage the project, or Saar, its creator. Given that the funding is nearly two-thousand times the amount needed to succeed, I think it's safe to say that The Agents is going to stay fully backed.

And, most of all, I know that gamers are a wonderful group of people, and many are willing not only to take a risk, but to give a person a second chance which is a beautiful thing!.

If you fall in that category, that's great, and I fully support your choice, but others deserve to make the choice knowingly. Which is to say, please don't kill the messenger.

After the debacle of The Doom That Came To Atlantic City and the lesser Katalyka, my loyalties definitely belong to BoardGameGeek rather than to individual Kickstarters. After all, money is tight and I would want someone to tell me these things. We are taking a risk, but we should have the facts in order to make an informed decision.

Saar was one of two creators involved in the undelivered Ringbow Kickstarter project. ringbow.com is where you can find more information on his involvement with this.

On The Agents page he has The Agents as his "first created" Kickstarter. I understand that it was attached to his partner's Facebook, but it could have been included, or noted. That's the kind of transparency I feel backers should get.

The following is part of a post on the Ringbow site from his partner in that project. You can read the whole post there.

Quote:
2. Q: Why does Saar, someone who you claim has 70% of the company, not have access to the KS campaign?
A: Saar Shai holding 70% of the company is not a claim; it’s a fact, and the information is also in the public domain for any registered company by Israeli law. Saar and I co-wrote any and all KS updates that were published until now.
3. Q: In the update before last, you said you would get back to us with shipping dates. Were you just stringing us along? If not, how did you not know you ran out of money?
A: As described in the last update, we have established a business partnership with a manufacturing firm with the promise that if we'll hit the $100k mark, they will manufacture the rings for us. Ringbow is not out of money yet. The option of taking plastic moldings to our hands requires additional funds.
Thanks to that business partnership we are able to provide the rings with the funds we currently hold. However, I'm afraid that the posts issued in the past few days jeopardized our standing with this partner. I dedicate my days now to repair our relationship.
4. Q: Why would a KS creator sign an NDA knowing they are supposed to keep their backers informed on progress? That is what KS is about!!!
A: The delay in the Ringbow production is out of a dispute between two other corporations. We are suffering from the collateral damage. We respect our business partners and would not discuss their issues publicly.
5. Q: With all this ‘waiting’ why is there no SDK?
A: I'm afraid that the SDK was under Saar's responsibility. It's now clear to us that he's not going to fulfill this duty too, and I'm working on a solution.


The company is continuing to take preorders for the ringbow, and has listed an approximation of a three month delivery date on the preorder page.

I wrote Saar and told him I wish him luck and want to back the game, but feel I can't do so unless he partners with Kickin' it Games or another reputable company and gives them control of the Kickstarter funds to guarantee that all but his profit will go where it is intended to go. (Upon a Fable did this when past allegations came out against its creator, and it seemed to have saved the project). Saar replied that he is keeping control of the funds and looking to partner with Game Salute for publisher support only, and gave cheaper shipping from Israel where he lives as a reason for doing so.

Now, to be fair, this IS just a card game and should be VERY easy to fulfill, compared to games with boards and minis, anyway. (And also much easier compared to electronics like the ringbow.)

And, Saar seems very dedicated to making this happen in his posts, and is taking full responsibility for the game.

So, each person can make their own decision as to whether to back the game or not, but if the money should run away like The Doom That Came To Atlantic City, I won't feel awful for not letting people know.

I wish all of you, and Saar the best.

I wonder if there is any interest in a geeklist to research indie game developers who are asking for crowd funding? If we don't watch out for each other, who will? Does anyone have any thoughts?
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Richard Ham
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There's already a thread on this topic here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1006102/pledge-pulled

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Starla Lester
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rahdo wrote:
There's already a thread on this topic here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1006102/pledge-pulled



Thank you for letting me know. I didn't realize this as there was nothing attached to the game's page itself when I looked.

Since I'm hoping to present the information to people who might come directly here, and since no one else seems to have posted his former/current Kickstarter partner's view, I think I'll leave it (unless a moderator feels it's redundant).

Do you have any thoughts on a geeklist for researching indie developers? Is it too negative or pointless?

Edit to add: But then, I looked Saturday and was trying to research it for myself, write the creator, and marshal my thoughts as to whether to post. There was nothing on the front page at the time I posted, so I missed it. My bad. Otherwise I'd have posted there.
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Richard Ham
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Ryuu wrote:
Do you have any thoughts on a geeklist for researching indie developers? Is it too negative or pointless?

Myself, I don't really see that it would be a very fruitful endeavour.

1) the vast majority of projects that reach their funding deliver. So in the overwhelming majority of cases, the investigative journalism approach would be a waste of time and effort.

2) there's no way one would be able to accurately predict success or failure anyway. Due diligence might reveal questionable past issues that would lead to the project failing to reach it's goals by scaring away backers, even though there were extenuating circumstances that the research didn't reveal. Nevermind the fact that many people tend to learn from their mistakes, and there's often every reason to believe someone who crashed and burned is less likely to in the future. And by the same token, an experienced project manager with a series of successes could still fail to deliver and the project could fail because of unforseen circumstances, regardless of past performance. So it's not like the geeklist background research approach is going to really provide any strong indicators of success anyway.

To me, anyone who kickstarts just need to determine whether they're comfortable with the ol' caveat emptor. I myself lost over $100 on the Massilia/Vanuatu project when the creator's wife was stuck with a very serious illness and he lost all interest (it seems) in continuing with the project (bear in mind, that's total hearsay... I haven't looked into it too carefully).

Did I join a crusade to track him down to the far corners of the earth and get my money back, or at least "bring him to justice" by reporting to to the authorities? No, I just marked it in the loss column and moved on. If I wasn't prepared to do that, I never should have backed in the first place. But since, again, the vast majority of funded projects do come through (it must be close to 100% success rate), I'm willing to take the risk for the occasional project that really catches my fancy.

That's just me though.
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Starla Lester
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Rahdo, those are good points. Thanks! I have no doubt you are probably right on all counts.

(And by the way SUPER KUDOS and thumbs up on the Legends of Andor video. Just excellent work! You explained how to play the game very well, and I especially love that you didn't edit out what you stated were flaws in your gameplay and showing how changing this decision or that one would have changed the outcome of the game. You made it much more accessible with your humble portrayal, and I think all more more highly of you for that!
BIG thumbsup

But, I digress with my gushing...)

The subject of researching at least indie crowdfunding creators has been on my mind, because recently I read some of the truly bizarre things that the creator of Katalyka has posted on her deviantart blog. I honestly believe very few people would have backed her game if they had read her blog.

(I'd paste the ones that disturbed me here, but I'm pretty sure the moderators and other geeks would object due to content including pedophilia, racism, prejudice against a crippled consignment customer, and so on. And then there are the voices.) She may yet prove me wrong and produce the game, but she also admitted that the funds are gone, so it seems unlikely.

I was shocked, because I remember looking at the BGG page just after the Kickstarter finished and wishing I had seen the project before it ended. The prototype is pretty, and the theme unusual. I could easily have been one of those backers.

Anyway, it seemed to me that we, the backers, should be capable of at least vetting creators and insisting that risky creators use an established intermediary to ensure the funds will go where the creator claims they will. That would protect backers from at least gross malfeasance, and leave only the production risks inherent in any enterprise.

It's looking like that won't happen until enough backers insist upon it, though.

Sorry,
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I may be sticking with the established board game companies if we can't find a way to vet indie developers and insist on better safeguards.
It was a beautiful dream, though.
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Lee Fisher
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Of course very few people did back Katalyka. And a lot of people read the blog(s).
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Starla Lester
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lfisher wrote:
Of course very few people did back Katalyka. And a lot of people read the blog(s).


You're right in that it could have been much worse, but it did succeed, and she did take in almost 7,840 of other people's money.

As to the blogs, I must not have gone back far enough. The mentions of the blogs I found came after the Kickstarter didn't deliver.

Edit to add: There was nothing in the Kickstarter comments, but when I went all the way back I found it in your thread where you asked for more information. It looks like they found the blog and it was "disjointed and troubling," but people backed it anyway. Wow. Just...wow.
 
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Geoff Knox
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The problem with this is that crowdsourced investigations, especially in a medium where users have full anonymity, often lead to poor results. You have a mob mentality that arises where a single "lead" from someone can be taken up and made to look credible simply because the mob deems it so. Creating a group that puts itself up as investigators will imply credibility, even if you try and say that is not your intent.

If you want a recent example of how things can go off the rails, just look to the reddit hunt for the Boston bomber.

Ryuu wrote:
So, each person can make their own decision as to whether to back the game or not but if the money should run away like The Doom That Came To Atlantic City, I won't feel awful for not letting people know.[/


The decision to back the game is always going to be made by the individual, so is the reason for wanting to start the kickstarter investigation group to give you the satisfaction of an "I told you so!" when it fails?

What happens if you trot out evidence that negatively impacts a project but later turns out to be false?

How do you determine "bad information" that should be reported? While the Katalyka designer obviously failed, some of the posts people pulled out as red flags had nothing to do with her game, production methods or capability but were simply "disturbing". If a project lead has a blog full of S&M fantasy, does that count as evidence that should be brought forward?

What happens if issues crop up with the reputable company you've pushed a project to?

These are just a few of the problems that may possibly arise. The point is that you can split hairs all day about a project or the person(s) behind it, but it still comes down to someone deciding if they feel it is worth the risk for the value they get from backing. Fraud is always a risk, but there is no way to completely mitigate that risk no matter how diligent you are in researching. Creating a kickstarter watchdog group is, in my opinion, likely to do more harm than good.
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Lee Fisher
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Btw one guy on BGG was trying to do this with http://vaporstarter.com/
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Starla Lester
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Geoff,
Thank you sincerely for taking the time to post, because I've been seriously considering your points.

I'm honestly not interested in ever being in an "I told you so" position, but you don't know me, so it's a sensible question.

The goal I was thinking of was for backers to be in a position to ask Kickstarter creators with a past history of not delivering or of walking away with people's money or other allegations, in a way that holds weight, to hire an established intermediary who will take control of the money and ensure that the money goes to the project.

That way, the Creator gets a second chance, and backers can be somewhat assured that the only risks are the normal production risks any game might face. That seems like a win-win to me. I thought it was only logical, especially as it's been done elsewhere. (e.g., Upon a Fable Kickstarter)

Your Boston example was from a horrible tragedy involving life and death, but I do take your point. I didn't think about that, since in the examples I've looked into, the backers were more likely to champion the underdog and give people a second chance, which is honestly kind of cool! I just wish they had the power to insist on some safeguards to protect themselves.

So, I didn't consider mobs with a tar and feather mentality, but that alone might be a reason not to pursue the geeklist on researching indie developers.

In The Agents case, after a discussion with a friend about Doom, I researched for myself, found the company website posts, contacted the creator, and then debated whether or not to post. I tried to be careful to present only an easily observable discrepancy, and direct quotes from his own company's website that were posted by his partner in the venture, that is, an involved party's firsthand account, not second or third hand rumors. I deliberately didn't post any assumptions or draw any conclusions. We don't know who is right and who was wronged at this point, but that is pretty much the issue. We have the right to at least consider the allegations before backing.

I found Saar to be warm and funny and open in correspondence, and I honestly do wish him success in life. Others are voting with their wallet, and that's fine! (I'd have backed in an instant if he hadn't responded that he is keeping control of the funds himself.)

In Katalyka's case, her response to a failed 250.00 consignment for a cane for a disabled customer alone raises questions as to whether she was capable of seeing a Kickstarter through.
Quote:
"When I have gotten orders from good people, life has helped me make things for them quicker than I even imagined it would.

You have a physical disability for a reason and I guess karma keeps me from doing anything for you because it wants to teach you something about trying to glorify your disability.

I'm told that's probably why you won't be mating and having children...as part of your punishment.

I would much prefer to do something else for you, but I'll probably just keep screwing you of money, because I'm not an artist anymore and it feels better to just piss you off for being stupid and selfish."


This is not someone I would trust with money. It was on her blog and is now on artists beware, a blog to warn others of art commissions gone awry.
http://artists-beware.livejournal.com/622758.html

So,yes, I think research can sometimes be key in determining the probability of delivering the product.

If we don't research together as a group, I hope people will do it on their own.
 
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Starla Lester
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lfisher wrote:
Btw one guy on BGG was trying to do this with http://vaporstarter.com/


Thanks! There isn't a lot there, but I'm going to keep an eye on it.
 
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While admirable in intent, I think it still comes down to a reliance on speculation from internet sleuthing and opinion, which doesn't always make for a good foundation to base your judgement on.

Prior to the failure of TDTCTAC, would anyone have known how poorly it would turn out? While that creator had a previous failure with Inari Inc., there was no real evidence of what happened. Even after TDTCTAC fell apart, the evidence of that failure is based off of a post from someone that claims to know first hand that money from that venture was spent on purchases from Amazon. Whether true or not it exists only as a post from someone on the internet that came long after the kickstarter finished.

For the second chance projects you mention, you seem to b looking to force their hand into working with a third party which will add additional costs. This also brings back my earlier question: what happens when that third party fails?

While I have no experience with Kickin' It games, I have friends that have a very poor opinion of Minion Games (James Mathe's other company) due to the way they handled misprints on cards for The Manhattan Project between editions. I believe there are a few threads about it here on BGG. Does that mean that KIG should have the same kind of scrutiny and investigation? If they were to have a major SNAFU for one of the projects that was coerced into using them, where would the blame ultimately lie?

I think creators that don't deliver or walk away from a project will get sniffed out ultimately- a con man isn't going to dip into that same well twice. The bigger concern is how something like what you describe would handle an unknown that has, or appears to have, something in their history that's deemed questionable. I can easily see a scenario where people find a person living in the same area with the same name that has a criminal charge on record being put up for public scrutiny. The problem, as I mentioned earlier, is that the research done is too often incomplete, or used as a springboard for speculation which then becomes morphed by groupthink into fact.

I understand the desire to prevent people from falling prey to bad agents on kickstarter, but unfortunately I don't think it's possible to do so.
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To the OP... thanks for the post.

Im one of the people who has backed this project (for $28).

Ive only backed 6 projects ever on Kickstarter and 5 of them have been PC games. So this was the first card/boardgame. Personally Ive avoided jumping in on a ton of them because I feel its hard to gauge the trust with these indy boardgame developers unfortunately.

There are a ton of great artists out there. They can make some awesome looking fake cards, boards and the like. In almost every failure case I have read about (including the ones you mentioned) it seems one of the main "Excuses" is they always under estimate the production costs.

With "The Agents" I decided to take a chance because he basically has the game finished (heck you can even PnP a B&W version). The game doesnt involve any components other then cards a rule book and a box. Worst scam I could see happening on this is he could go cheap on some of the printing and people feel slightly cheated....but I dont think this has a huge risk element to it...unlike the other examples you gave.

Anyway...just figured I would share my thoughts. Again thanks for the information and sharing it here.
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Starla Lester
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Geof,
I have to (reluctantly) agree with you.

I guess a geeklist would be open to rumor rather than research, and panic rather than reason. There would be no way to eliminate slander or even just wild accusations. I can see how it could easily snowball out of control.

Darn. Done right, it might be a valuable tool for backers, but the downsides look far too big to ignore.

Thank you again for taking the time to post. It helped stop me from possibly making a HUGE mistake that I would later regret.
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This information was very helpful. I did not know much about the creator, but the Crits Happen preview (along with the glowing endorsements of all the other people who had reviewed the game) convinced me to purchase a 2 copies.

In addition, I was considering a t-shirt / art book add on.

Reviewing the information though has made me wary, and I dropped my pledge from 2 FULLER copies and artbook @ $80 to $33.

Not a complete out, but Risk mitigation is important. Even if he does not deliver, I am sure someone will post the print and play. and I will have that, if nothing else,
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croloris wrote:
Even if he does not deliver, I am sure someone will post the print and play. and I will have that, if nothing else,


The complete PnP is already available from the KS page.
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Shawn George
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Xavarir wrote:
croloris wrote:
Even if he does not deliver, I am sure someone will post the print and play. and I will have that, if nothing else,


The complete PnP is already available from the KS page.


The base game is available, however, it doesn't include any of the KS promos or the expansions that are promised to be in the final PnP (assuming all stretch goals are met). And it's in black and white, not color.
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Putts wrote:
Xavarir wrote:
croloris wrote:
Even if he does not deliver, I am sure someone will post the print and play. and I will have that, if nothing else,


The complete PnP is already available from the KS page.


The base game is available, however, it doesn't include any of the KS promos or the expansions that are promised to be in the final PnP (assuming all stretch goals are met). And it's in black and white, not color.


There are two PnP versions listed here, B&W and Color. I've downloaded both and printed the B&W. No it does not include the expansions or promo cards.

I backed this project because the price was right for me and the existence of a PnP version meant that, at worst, I'd have over-payed for a PnP game rather than received nothing.
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skoon wrote:

There are two PnP versions listed here, B&W and Color. I've downloaded both and printed the B&W. No it does not include the expansions or promo cards.


Just to clarify, at the beginning of the Kickstarter campaign, a color PnP was posted on the Agents' website. Within the first couple days, it was replaced with a B&W version. At the moment, I only see the English B&W version of the PnP on BGG.
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Saar has signed a contract with GameSalute:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/673576049/the-agents-a-d...
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ZdadrDeM wrote:
Saar has signed a contract with GameSalute:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/673576049/the-agents-a-d...


Thank you for posting! I agree that this IS indicative that he does expect to have items to ship! (Why contract with someone to store and mail, otherwise?)

And, when he's been pledged that much money it would be just silly for him NOT to print the game. I am honestly on the fence here and leaning towards taking the plunge, even though he wrote me that the contract with Game Salute is only to help distribute the game and take orders after the kickstarter, not to have anything to do with seeing that the kickstarter funds go to printing the game, etc.

 
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croloris wrote:
This information was very helpful. I did not know much about the creator, but the Crits Happen preview (along with the glowing endorsements of all the other people who had reviewed the game) convinced me to purchase a 2 copies.

In addition, I was considering a t-shirt / art book add on.

Reviewing the information though has made me wary, and I dropped my pledge from 2 FULLER copies and artbook @ $80 to $33.

Not a complete out, but Risk mitigation is important. Even if he does not deliver, I am sure someone will post the print and play. and I will have that, if nothing else,


TShirts, books, cards, and boxes are all relatively inexpensive to produce, and the contract with Game Salute does lend some legitimacy to the intent to produce a product.

I hope my unease was unfounded, and also hope you'll feel free to reconsider in light of new information.
 
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Maxime Yazz
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Whatever the reasons or responsability on previous projects if this one failed as well his kickstarter reputation will be shot down way down. If that is the case it should be the last of his activity I do not think you can get a third strike.
 
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