MakerBot which was founded in 2009 by Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer, and Zach Smith quickly ballooned into a megacompany with a 50,000 square foot factory in Brooklyn, 150+ employees in 2013 and they grew to 580 employees by early 2015 just before the 2 rounds of layoffs began (100 for the 1st round and 80 for the 2nd).
The fact that they had over 500 employees at one point is shocking since they made and sold relatively expensive devices to a very small niche market.
While its nice to have something that is truly made in America with devices that were assembled in America, the reality is most people aren’t interested in putting together a model airplane let alone draw up a design in cad, spend over a thousand dollars ($1,375 for mini to $6,499 the larger version) to print one out in MakerBot section by section, paint it then assemble it, at least not enough people to justify the rate the company was expanding at in such a short amount of time.
I’ve dealt a lot with MakerBot’s and I would personally never buy one. There are many comparable alternatives for almost half the price and the newer 5th Gen models have AWFUL extruders… they clog like crazy and are not nearly as easy to disassemble and clean as other models. — greysplash (Reddit.com)
The company is also facing a class action lawsuit over faulty extruders that frequently clogged and allegedly led to shareholders losing millions of dollars once the issue came to light.
Like Krispy Kreme over a decade ago, it appears MakerBot also bought into its own hype and is now paying a huge price. Sadly for the 100 or so former employees who only wanted to make a living they were unceremoniously escorted out by security earlier this year and left to find work elsewhere.
“3D printing is one of the fastest growing technologies in the world today. To keep up with the growing demand in the 3D printing industry, MakerBot is hiring 50+ new employees in the coming months” — Makerbot Press Release 2013
It seems like their business strategy was banking on demand catching up with supply.