Executive Interview Series

INTERVIEW: New UltiMaker CEO Michiel Alting von Geusau

UltiMaker has announced a new CEO. Michiel Alting von Geusau has replaced Nadav Goshen as leader of the company created by the merger of Ultimaker and Makerbot in 2022. 

3D Printing Industry spoke to the incoming CEO to learn more about his vision for UltiMaker, plans for new products, and what’s next for Thingiverse.

When asked about his transition to UltiMaker, Alting von Geusau responded candidly, “It’s a completely new market. I never wanted to enter the same market that I was in before because I don’t want to be a competitor [of previous employers].” He emphasized the allure of diving into a fresh market, understanding its intricacies, and bringing in a fresh perspective. “What I will bring in is some really crazy creative ideas, and then just see if they work or not.”

However, regarding the future vision for UltiMaker, Alting von Geusau, having been with the company for just a week, asked for a hundred days to craft it. His approach is collaborative, seeking insights from both internal teams and external stakeholders. In a twist, he played the reverse Uno card, asking me questions such as, “Where do you think we should be in three to five years?”

The legacy companies that form UltiMaker were early movers and leaders in the industry but have seen market dynamics shifted by Chinese entrants. Now, those same companies face challenges from new players like Bambu Labs. The market’s demand for speed, ease of use, and competitive pricing are evident. Yet, as UltiMaker’s established credibility and prestige might steer it in a different direction.

Alting von Geusau’s response highlighted a potential strategic direction for UltiMaker, “What I’m really looking at, are there markets where you can offer more than just the desktop printer. [Where] you can offer a complete solution around the printer.” He acknowledged the strengths of Chinese production companies in creating standalone systems but pointed out his view on limitations in offering holistic solutions, especially in maintaining close client relationships.

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Michiel Alting von Geusau, CEO UltiMaker. Photo via UltiMaker.
Michiel Alting von Geusau, CEO UltiMaker. Photo via UltiMaker.

UltiMaker’s Future, Open Source, and Company Culture

Given the history of MakerBot and Ultimaker, I asked Michiel Alting von Geusau, CEO of UltiMaker, about the company’s stance on open source and the future direction of the 3D printing industry.

Alting von Geusau, while still familiarizing himself with the nuances, emphasized the importance of Cura, UltiMaker’s slicing software. “Cura, of course, is a fantastic slicing software, which is open source, and we should make sure that that remains a key element of the company and remain open source. But not everything around it needs to be open source,” he remarked.

Regarding management philosophy, Alting von Geusau’s approach is people-centric. He believes that with the right team, any goal is achievable. “I strongly believe in people; with good people, you can go anywhere.” He further stressed the importance of fostering close relationships with clients and evolving with them, especially in a market that’s still maturing. He emphasized collaborative growth, stating, “If your client is successful, then you can be successful yourself as well.”

When probed about UltiMaker’s legacy of innovation, Michiel candidly admitted that he’s still evaluating the best path forward. Whether it’s pursuing groundbreaking innovations or opting for incremental developments in collaboration with clients remains to be seen. He noted, “What I do know is that if you want to develop the breakthrough, that’s quite an expensive route.”

Thingiverse, a digital design repository, was another topic of interest. Recognizing it as a significant asset, Alting von Geusau said, “I think it’s a huge asset… It’s certainly one of the pearls the company has.” 

Discussing company culture, Michiel described UltiMaker as having a positive, R&D-driven environment. However, he hinted at a potential shift, “I see it as a very positive R&D driven culture, which we might have to turn a little bit more to client-facing. But keep the innovative spirit there in the company.”

UltiMaker’s next chapter is likely to see a focus on collaboration, innovation, and client-centricity. 

UltiMaker’s New Phase

The final segment of our interview with Michiel Alting von Geusau, CEO of UltiMaker, shifted towards fostering innovation, market expansion, and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

When asked about fostering a culture of innovation, Alting von Geusau emphasized the importance of recognizing and valuing innovators within the company. He stated the importance of “making sure that you value the people that innovate and make the rest of the company aware of the great work they’ve been doing.” He believes that communication and appreciation are critical.

Regarding market expansion, Alting von Geusau hinted at strong ideas within the company, particularly in the education sector, where UltiMaker has a robust presence in the US. He sees the company’s growth strategy as threefold: moving up the supply chain, adding more than just the 3D printer, and geographic expansion.

Discussing the integration of the two legacy brands, MakerBot and UltiMaker, the new CEO admitted that while UltiMaker is the primary brand today, the synergy between the two brands is still a topic of ongoing consideration.

Sustainability, a pressing concern, was also touched upon. The new CEO sees 3D printing as inherently sustainable, especially when it comes to producing only what is needed. He remarked, “I think we should market the 3D printer as a sustainable good for sustainability as you don’t have to produce to inventory, but you can only produce what you really need.”

On the role of partnerships in driving growth, Alting von Geusau was clear: “Nowadays, any market is about partnership. You cannot do anything alone.” He emphasized the importance of ensuring that all partners in the chain benefit fairly.

Commenting on the departure of Goshen, Bart Markus, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, said, “Nadav was integral in building the foundation of UltiMaker post-merger, and we are excited to now have Michiel as our leader in this next phase of the company. Michiel is a seasoned and results-oriented leader with extensive experience driving growth within technology companies.”

Read more in our executive interview series with 3D printing leaders here.

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