MakerBot Loses (Another) CEO
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on January 20, 2017 |

Desktop 3D printer manufacturer and Stratasys subsidiary MakerBot has announced the replacement of yet another CEO. Jonathan Jaglom has resigned and will be replaced by the company's president, Nadav Goshen.

MakerBot CEO Jonathan Jaglom (left) will be replaced by MakerBot President Nadav Goshen (right). (Image courtesy of MakerBot.)
MakerBot CEO Jonathan Jaglom (left) will be replaced by MakerBot President Nadav Goshen (right). (Image courtesy of MakerBot.)

The story of MakerBot is an interesting one. The firm was the first desktop 3D printer startup to catch the eye of the media and was a major part of the industry boom that led to public awareness of the technology. In many ways, if it weren't for MakerBot, I might not even be writing about the technology today.

The company began by releasing open-source desktop 3D printer kits but slowly began to abandon its roots in the RepRap 3D printer movement, which was responsible for the proliferation of so many open-source 3D printers. After implementing community designs in the Replicator 2 3D printer and changing the terms of service for its 3D model community to a seemingly less transparent model, MakerBot made its printers closed source.

Along the way in 2013, the world's leader in industrial thermoplastic extrusion 3D printing, Stratasys, purchased the desktop manufacturer for $604 million. Shortly thereafter, MakerBot's original founder and CEO, Bre Pettis, stepped down for a position at Stratasys until ultimately leaving Stratasys in 2015. Pettis was replaced by MakerBot President Jenny Lawton, who stepped down in 2014 to be replaced by Jonathan Jaglom, son of the chairman of the Stratasys board of directors.

It was under Jaglom that MakerBot experienced two massive layoffs, as the firm struggled to overcome a PR issue associated with its fifth-generation Replicator 3D printers, as well as the loss of its original community. The extruder on these machines was notoriously problematic, often resulting in multiple replacements, not all of which were covered under warranty. The extruder even became a part of a class action lawsuit against MakerBot on the behalf of investors who argued that the firm had knowingly rushed a flawed component and product to market.

Though the Smart Extruder was upgraded, the brand continued to suffer. After a second round of layoffs, Jaglom decided to begin outsourcing the production of MakerBot products to China through contract manufacturer Jabil.

Before Jaglom resigned, the company was able to launch a new and improved MakerBot Replicator 3D printer, but it’s difficult to say if the new model has made up for the extensive damage the brand had already done to its image. At the same time, since its initial hype bubble, the consumer 3D printing industry has become more stagnant than the industrial realm. Many desktop manufacturers have disappeared, while others have shifted to a more industrial focus, including MakerBot.

Now, Jaglom will be succeeded by MakerBot's former president, Nadav Goshen, who, according to a company press release, has over 15 years experience in leading turnarounds at tech companies and whose expertise lies in defining new products and business models, as well as growing digital ecosystems. Before MakerBot, Goshen led private equity investments related to mobile and other tech industries.

For someone who was brought into the 3D printing industry by brands like MakerBot, it would be exciting to see the company once again at the forefront of desktop 3D printing. It's possible that Goshen will be able to make that happen. In this author's opinion, the best way to do so would be to return to the company's roots and make its products open source and community oriented.

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