The idea of making things and creating things, especially in the digital realm, has captured the imagination of many digital pioneers. Just head to the New York Maker Faire in New York City this fall and you’ll see miles of aisles of do-it-yourselfers and tinkerers who embody the spirit of creation.
Now, contrast the excitement of making things to who and what are actually making money in the tech world. The most successful companies in the tech sector over the last few years make absolutely nothing! As a matter of fact, they pride themselves in making nothing and owning nothing.
A few examples: AirBnB owns no hotels. Uber owns no taxi cabs. Amazon is a store that sells other peoples stuff. Facebook creates no content. What these guys do is organize. They create a frictionless environment to match people who need things with people who have things.
It’s the antithesis of the Maker Movement.
For the Maker Movement to grow up it’s going to need to incorporate some of this organizational common sense. I’d be thinking hard about how to connect makers and the things they make, with the people who need them. Or, connect skilled makers with the people who need those skills.
These are not considered “maker companies” (AirBnB, Uber, Amazon, Facebook). However, do look at companies like Nest that actually make hardware (later acquired by Google for $3.2b).
We do not think the author is correct about what Maker Faire should be (“some of this organizational common sense”? Hundreds of thousands of people attend and/or exhibit, form maker spaces, companies, KickStarters… that’s pretty good!). Maker Faire is where regular folks get to show and share their creations with a whole spectrum of makers from professionals to kids. It’s not CES, although if you look at MakerBot, it started in the Maker Faires and more, ended up at CES and was acquired for $604m+ by Stratasys. That said, what you see makers doing on weekends for fun is likely the next big markets later, at Maker Faire, companies like Disney, Google, Intel, Microsoft, NASA, Autodesk and more are all there.
In order for the Maker Movement to grow up, it needs to take a little lesson from those companies that make nothing but connections and start systematizing a way to maker profitability and employability.
Some of us are doing that, and both – it’s totally great to be a good cause (open-source hardware for example) and a great business. It’s interesting, because makers sometimes say it’s going “too corporate” and professional, hearing that Robin believes it needs more of that is alternative opinion we have not heard recently!
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