The 3D Printing Revolution That Wasn’t
Andrew Zaleski
40523

I didn’t respond to this article request because it was pitched to me as being about the downfall of MakerBot and I just don’t see it that way. When I was CEO, MakerBot went through many transformations and each time, there were articles that said that MakerBot was doomed. MakerBot has had some hard knocks, but it’s a company that is resilient and stronger for overcoming it’s challenges. Is it a different company now than when I was CEO? Yes, and even though it was heartbreaking for me to see manufacturing move away from Brooklyn, I’m still a believer.

MakerBot’s latest transformation has been from a high growth startup to becoming a mature component of a public company. It is a transformation that many acquired companies don’t survive and the fact that MakerBot is alive and continuing to develop new printers is great. Knowing that MakerBot is still doing it’s part to push the envelope and empower creative people in the world makes me a proud former employee.

My decision to shift the business model of MakerBot still haunts me. It’s not a decision that I regret making, but wow, I wish I had navigated it better. If I had to choose again, I would still have made the same choice, but ugh. People still hate me for that decision. I’m someone who is flawed and one of my flaws is that I generally want to be liked and I care what people think of me. It’s been a not-so-pleasant process to own my unpopular decisions and live with them.

If you’re going to make an open hardware company, I wish you the best and hope you can succeed. I recommend this article by one of the github founders and wish I had read it before we began MakerBot:

http://tom.preston-werner.com/2011/11/22/open-source-everything.html

I’ve moved onto my next adventure, but I won’t count MakerBot out. There are still really smart people who work there and they are people who care. It’s clear from the recent hardware and software improvements that the engineering and software teams at MakerBot continue to rock. Again, I must mention that I have not been involved in MakerBot for a while and so this is pure speculation, but I wouldn’t count MakerBot out yet.