Though it may only seem like yesterday, half-a-decade ago this machine appeared machine coming out of a hackerspace in New York appeared that shook up an entire industry. Today, the man mainly responsible for that shaking is to step down from the day-to-day running as CEO of MakerBot.
‘Stepping down’ may not be the correct term for Bre’s move away from the nitty-gritty of MakerBot, he is moving up to board level at MakerBot’s parent company Stratasys to head up a new venture, mysteriously called the “Innovation Lab”. Into Bre’s considerable shoes steps MakerBot President Jenny Lawton as new CEO.
Bre was the only surviving member of MakerBot trio that exploded out of NYC hackerspace Resistor with the MakerBot Cupcake, an FDM 3D printer for your desktop that worked. Sure it was a little rough around the edges; it had to be assembled and achieving the right results was more miss than hit but this was really the start of the first home 3D printing brand.
Fab@Home and RepRap were doing similar things but with a more research-based focus, Bre Pettis knew that this Cupcake - named so because it could only build things the size of cupcakes - was the start of a brand that could be sold on for a nine-figure sum and they set the corporate tone with the name MakerBot Industries.
Some months before MakerBot Industries started trading, Bre was part of the team that set-up Thingiverse, the repository that would go on to establish MakerBot as the most notable brand in consumer 3D printing. MakerBot were the first 3D printer at International CES appearing at the IT/Wireless/Imaging zone in 2010. MakerBot’s pioneering led to a whole TCT sponsored 3D Printing TechZone just four years later.
Bre’s time at MakerBot has not been without its controversies, a falling out with fellow co-founder Zac Smith led to the latter leaving the company in 2012, his and the board's decision to move the machine from open to closed-source for the Replicator 2 model saw an outcry in the very community the brand spawned to serve. The decision to sell to Stratasys last year was also criticised by some of that community but the cold-hard facts show that those difficult decisions, at least in the business sense, paid off.
In the space of a single presedential term MakerBot has grown from one model made in lockup in Brooklyn by three guys to five models and a scanner manufactured in a 55,000 square-foot facility, employing an excess of 400 people. One thing that can never be denied about Bre’s term as CEO of MakerBot is that it grew from nothing to, perhaps, the most recognisable brand in 3D printing today.
His current role will still allow for Bre to sign off on important MakerBot decisions and under the stewardship of Jenny Lawton we’re sure MakerBot will continue its meteoric rise.