Pebble Time record Kickstarter ends; what else could that money buy?

Neil Godwin | T3 Magazine | Getty Images

Within minutes of launching its latest Kickstarter phenomenon, it was a foregone conclusion that smartwatch maker Pebble was going to set new records. The Pebble Time hit its fundraising goal in 17 minutes, raised nearly $6 million within five hours and became the most successful project in Kickstarter history within a week.

On Friday night, the juggernaut campaign finally came to an end - with 78,467 people pre-ordering the watch, raising a staggering $20.34 million for the company.

It's far and away the most any product has ever raised on the crowdfunding site, more than doubling the amount raised for the first generation Pebble - and topping the Coolest Cooler, which last August raised just under $13.3 million. There's a bit of an asterisk next to that record, though.

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Roughly a week after launching the campaign, Pebble unveiled a high-end steel variant of Pebble Time with a bigger battery – which carried a $70 premium over the $179 base price for the system. Backers flooded the Kickstarter servers with new orders and upgrading their previous orders. It, technically, was a second product offering - though it fell under the same Kickstarter.

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Quibbling aside, the Pebble Time campaign sets a new bar for Kickstarter projects which might seem hard to reach now, but all it takes is one viral campaign that captures peoples' attentions to top it. (Certainly, no one - not even the inventors of the Coolest - expected a cooler to raise as much as it did last August.)

$20.34 million is a lot of money, though, no matter how you slice it. And as we looked at it, we got to wondering... what else could Pebble do with that cash (if, you know, it didn't have all of those orders to fulfill)...

As it turns out, there were several options:

* Pay New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees' 2015 salary for a year. (And still have enough left over to buy 110 of the team's best-positioned season tickets.) Alternatively, they could pick up a four year deal with the Charlotte Panther's Cam Newton - and still have leftover cash.

* Make a bid on Radio Shack. As the bankrupt electronics retailer goes through the auction process, it has put its name and other intellectual property up for bids. Hedge fund Standard General, currently owns about 10 percent of RadioShack, and has made an opening bid of $20 million. (To be fair, it seems unlikely Pebble would win this bidding war, though.)

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* Match Britney Spears's Vegas earning power. The "Oops I Did It Again" singer's resident "Piece of Me" show in Las Vegas brought in $20 million for Planet Hollywood in its first year, helping to revitalize the property and make it a destination for tourists.

* Take nearly 2/3 of its employees to outer space. Pebble has about 130 people working at the company. A seat on Virgin Galactic's commercial space ship currently runs for $250,000. While the company didn't raise enough for everyone to go, it could send 81 folks into orbit.

* Buy the Magna Carta - almost. They'd probably have to pass the hat around the break room to make up the difference, but the amount Pebble has raised in just one month from supporters is just shy of the amount paid for a copy of the Magna Carta, one of the world's most important historical documents. In 2007, a collector shelled out $21.3 million for the then-710 year old copy.

The campaign won't just benefit Pebble, either. Kickstarter will collect over $1 million in fees from Pebble - and Stripe, which replaced Amazon as the site's payment processor earlier this year, will collect over $600,000.

Pebble has a storied history on Kickstarter. When the company first unveiled its smartwatch in 2012, it instantly resonated with the crowdfunding audience, going on to raise just under $10.3 million in a month, surpassing its funding goal by 10,266 percent.

The original Pebble watch was an overwhelming success. A year ago, the company said it had sold more than 400,000 of the devices (it has not updated the sales totals since then). In comparison, analyst group Canalys estimates just 720,000 Google-powered smartwatches shipped in 2014.

The fevered excitement over smartwatches could be good news for Apple, also, which will release its Apple Watch on April 24. (Pre-orders for the device start on April 10, which will be an even better early barometer of demand.)