We’re meeting with the new CEO of MakerBot Jonathan Jaglom – @makerbot @jjaglom @stratasys

The MakerBot team emailed us and their new CEO Jonathan Jaglom is hitting the road this summer to meet customers, partners and more (we no longer sell MakerBot but did awhile back) – and specially, he’s going to meet with Adafruit.

…Jonathan ought to meet you and/or and the team at Adafruit, so that he understands firsthand your experience with MakerBot and Thingiverse, what’s gone well and what could go better. This would also be an opportunity for you to learn more about our priorities, and about Jonathan’s view of our shared world.

No topics are off the table; your unvarnished account, along with what he hears from you and a handful of other customers, will inform decisions about the development of the MakerBot 3D Ecosystem and the Thingiverse community.

No topics are off the table; unvarnished account, OK! We requested a video interview like we usually do for ASK AN ENGINEER (last week we had the CEOs of OtherMachine and Particle) but MakerBot wanted to keep it a “introduction and listening meeting”. After corresponding with the Thingiverse Community and Audience Development Manager, MakerBot Executive Assistant, MakerBot Public Relations Manager at MakerBot and MakerBot’s Chief Marketing Officer we agreed to do a post here before the meeting and a follow up one after our meeting.

So! Here is your chance Adafruit community (and beyond!)! Post up in the comments of what is important to you, we’ll make sure they’re listening. We’ll even help get this started. We’re looking for constructive actionable requests and comments, be excellent.

MakerBot and Open-Source
There’s an opportunity to patch things up with the Open-source community, is MakerBot interested?

MakerBot and Material lock-in
Should people be able to use material in printers that they own? There is a concern that MakerBot is planning DRM and material lock-in. Does the new CEO think that people should be able to use material in printers that they own? We understand the benefits to users in knowing where their materials come from and that they are all going to perform as expected, however, what about the people out there like our customers who understand the tradeoffs using 3rd party filament? In a recent Copyright Office hearing MakerBot was mentioned, a lot. A majority of our customers and community believe they have the choice to use their printer as they see fit. Regardless, we’re concerned that using copyright as the legal mechanism to force material lock-in is a bad-scene for the 3D printing ecosystem. Stratasys owns MakerBot and currently chips materials.

MakerBot Replicator 5th gen
The MakerBot replicator 5th Gen units had some challenges and mixed reviews at launch, we know you’ve been working to fix the issues such as the Smart Extruders, we decided not to stock them at this time. What’s being worked on now to address the previous issues, what type of testing and assurances will the customers and community have that if they trust MakerBot again that they will not be let down? For resellers, would we be able to throughly test units before launch as part of a private beta program for example?

Analytics on Thingivese
We’d like granular analytics on our designs.

Spam becoming an issue on Thingivese
Thingiverse has some spam issues… maybe a report spam button is necessary.

Promotion and celebration of designs on Thingiverse
Specific ways to get featured placement.

Reselling MakerBot products
Generally speaking, dealing with the MakerBot & distributor(s) was not as easy or as profitable at times. For Adafruit we need better margins if we’re going to resell 3D printers. The return policies were not reseller friendly. Over the years the price of MakerBots seems to have gone up, while the price of other 3D printers of good quality went down, this made it a challenge to stock. For the Digitizer, MakerBot was selling them below the cost we purchased them, that was really rough on us.

General questions and comments
Are there areas you feel you can make the most improvements in user experience and printer output? Do you see any major technological changes in the near future or small incremental changes? What Stratasys technologies do you see making it into the MakerBot lineup of products? We’d like to see more MakerBot blog posts, people from the company making and sharing things, MakerBot has a long history of not only making 3D printers, but content themselves – we’d like to see that again.

Testing products
And lastly, we would like to test out a Z18 🙂

These are just some of what we will discuss, now it’s your turn – Post up in the comments, Tweet, Google+ and more…

Update: Hackaday has posted up and there are lots of comments, questions and more there too.

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  1. Why hasn’t Makerbot moved to improving dual extruders for using industrial grade dissolvable support materials like P400-SR used on Dimension printers? I see such mixed reviews on PVA and HIPS. I believe the first maker grade printer to offer a good dissolvable support material solution will rule the market.

  2. I think Zach and Adam’s work on Thingiverse in its early days is one of the more significant contributions to the open source community recently, and it really was fantastic. As an open content author, I have a piece of the story that I’ve not heard anyone else bring up before, and there’s a figure from my Thingiverse analytics page that may help illustrate the story ( http://www.tricorderproject.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/thingiverseAnalytics.jpg ).

    One of the more challenging bits with building open projects is getting people excited enough to build a community of active users around those projects — otherwise even incredible projects can easily get buried. Thingiverse used to do a fantastic job of showcasing interesting projects for long periods on the front page — enough for this community engagement to start happening (you can see this pre-2013 on the figure that I’ve linked to). I still remember the original 3D printed extruder, posted by someone shortly after the first batch of cupcakes were shipped, and it was made (and iterated) by so many people for years until extremely capable 3D-printed extruders became common. Around late 2012 there was an ideological shift at Makerbot, Thingiverse was rebranded, and Thingiverse largely showcased Makerbot internal designs rather than projects from the community, unless those projects really showed off the latest printer. As beautiful and incredible as those Makerbot projects were, I felt like it was inappropriate to not continue to showcase and foster the open projects that were really the reason that everyone in the RepRap community pooled together to figure out how to get these inexpensive FDM printers to work in the first place. While the open projects on Thingiverse could have been on any topic, many feel as though some of those projects contributed foundational ideas or components of the later iterations of the printers. It was like a Github for things, and it really worked very well.

    I used to visit Thingiverse nearly every day to see the amazing things that folks had created, and see if people had built or iterated any of my projects — it’s one of the best feelings I’ve had, as a maker and content author, to know only 12 hours later that someone across the planet had put together most an open source CT scanner that you’ve only just uploaded. Now I may visit a few times a year, and almost never release new content to Thingiverse — it feels like it’s put together by marketing people to sell printers instead of develop really interesting projects, and while the front page shows some interesting ones by talented folks, I feel like finding the interesting and clever ones that don’t help sell printers are so challenging to find now. And many of the original community of very talented developers that used to frequently post projects to Thingiverse have moved on.

    I realize this isn’t a question, and somewhere between github and the old Thingiverse there was a really interesting tool for collaborative making that I think we still need. But I don’t know that there’s a revenue model in there, and incubating really interesting projects feels like it’s only a slogan now, rather than something that’s actively carried out in a really general way — the folks who helped build that system aren’t there anymore. But I miss it, and it made a lot of incredible things possible while it was active. My hats off to Zach and Adam, wherever they are.

    best wishes,

  3. Rewarding communities and interfacing with markets has always been a problem with open source hardware. Since 2011, SENSORICA, a physical and virtual community focused on open source hardware has changed the way people work together. Devoted to developing its Open Value Network, a system that captures the value of each individual’s contribution fairly while managing resources, SENSORICA has crafted the protocols and governance rules for co-creation in a peer to peer, commons based production environment while providing solution for interfacing with traditional, classical structures (markets).
    We have always used MakerBot as an example in our presentations, as seen in this video presented at OuiShare last year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9h7Z9LPQwmw

    We are now involved in a historic event, being the first community to receive a contract from a university to give life to and to socialize an Open Source Hardware project, and our invitation to the White House on June 11th 2015 assured us that we are pretty much alone in this space.

    If MakerBot wishes to repair and re-open a part of its R&D to online communities, SENSORICA can be a solution for this initiative.

  4. How do you plan to compete with the M3D Micro?

  5. Question for Makerbot:

    1) What are doing to justify the higher cost of a Makerbot versus other machines (such as the Taz 5) that are more reliable, open source which allows users to customize and enhance their own machines, and are committed to allowing third party filaments to help lower usability costs?

    2) Your parent company is keeping many great innovations from your target audience through patents (heated build chambers for example), how do you address the bad PR and perception that this lends to Makerbot?

  6. I would tell the CEO of Makerbot that there is nothing to fix. You don’t fix an organizational form who’s expiry date has come. You abandon the corporate model and adopt new models that are adapted to our current reality.

    As cryptocurrency is displacing fiat money commons-vased peer production, open value networks, are replacing corporations.

    Essentially, what SENSORICA is doing, is making the corporate model obsolete. The best way to understand how this happens is to look in areas where the open source mode of innovation drives the market, and that is 3D printing and consumers drones. SENSORICA builds on the open source mode of innovation and adds the missing layers around it in order to allow production and distribution, while preserving the core values and principles. RepRap was not organized as an OVN, and this is why Makerbot came into existence.

    Arduino, Adafruit, and the rest, are hybrid models, and their success opens the space for OVNs.

  7. Hi Jonathan, I worked at MakerBot but never got to meet you in person before being handed my pink slip so I hope you hear me out. Bre Pettis used to joke about the low, low salaries he would pay employees, even after raising over $10m in capital and having printers on the market. It was literally a joke to him, and he was very amused by how desperate people were to join his crazy rocketship ride. He called it the "hometown advantage." Jenny would straight up tell you to your face that you’re lucky to even have a job, even if you were paid $28k a year. Everyone I know and knew worked really hard despite being looked down upon by management. Lots of folk were unsure about shipping printers the way they were but were assured that statistically it wouldn’t matter if they didn’t work like we told they would. So now you now have a workforce that is discouraged by the below market pay they receive, by how poorly the 5th generation printers were marketed, and that over the past year they’ve seen many of the top level executives responsible for that disaster flee the company with hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars in stock and golden handshake deals. So my question for you is when are you going to lay off the rest of the engineers and productors and move operations to China?

  8. I’m just gonna write this to Jonathan.

    I’m also a former MakerBot employee and I have to echo TBD’s sentiment. Employees poured their heart and soul into that company to make it great despite gigantic obstacles placed in their way by the company’s leadership. Please take a look at those who have been with the company for a few years (a lifetime in MB) and see if they are being paid anything near a fair market wage. Take a good look at the company’s glassdoor reviews (not the ones obviously written by HR).

    I’d also like to see MakerBot begin being honest about it’s internal manufacturing process. The 5th Gen extruder has been a complete disaster, going through several design changes without any acknowledgement from the company. I remember when the Rep 2 had problems with the delrin plunger and there was a huge blog post admitting their was an issue and offered a solution. Now a Rep 2 that’s been dialed in will run for thousands of hours reliably.

    Most of all, I’m worried that the actions of the former MakerBot leadership is going to kill the industry. How many people go to Home Depot, buy a brand new Mini, only to have problems with the extruder and be told that they have to send it back in.

    Jonathan, I commend you on reaching out to former business partners and I know they’ll guide you well. But please take a hard look at the impact that MakerBot is having on the 3D Printing community as a whole. At the moment, it’s destructive. That isn’t your fault, but you are the only person at that company who can stop it.

    I joined the company before “leading the next industrial revolution” was a phrase that made me sick. I joined because I believed in something I thought was going to help change the world. It didn’t matter who was doing it. When I joined, the operating phrase was, “a rising tide will lift all ships.” And I still believe it to this day.


    P.S. If there are any of those “The MakerBot Way” posters still hanging on the walls, take them down immediately! You’d become the most popular guy in the building overnight.

  9. Many companies like Tesla are opening up their patents for everyone to use. Makerbot and Stratasys have a lot of "generic" patents that basically block innovation in 3D printing. A lot of small startups are building machines that are basically better than Makerbot these days.

    By going from an open-sourced to a closed-sourced business, a lot of free innovation has been taken out of the loop and the "brand" makerbot has been tarnished by all the problems that users experienced. Quality control, human resources and I don’t know how many other organisations inside makerbot are basically working in their own little islands, not knowing what each other does.

    Many companies need to "slim off" and revise their strategy and produce competitive products. A good CEO knows his product and stands behind his product. Have you ever experienced firsthand as a "consumer" how the product works, and how customer service works? Do you think that "shaking up" the company’s structure can help the company get healthy again?

    My mayor question is though: Will the consumer see a mayor change in the way Makerbot does things? Will it become a “competitive” product like it used to be in the past, rather than being a company that sells overpriced machines that are DoA (Dead on Arrival).

  10. So, Jonathan Jaglom will answer to prewritten questions?

    This is not what i call interacting with the community. Doing it in a “Ask an engineer” style is an absolute must.

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