MakerBot Lays Off 20% of Staff, Closes Retail Locations

As 3D Print Week was booming, it seems that other, less joyous events were taking place behind the scenes.  Motherboard reports that Stratasys subsidiary MakerBot has laid off 20% of its workforce, which they estimate to be about 100 employees.

An employee who asked not to be named told Motherboard that the layoff came at the orders of the company’s new CEO, Jonathan Jaglom, who replaced the previous CEO, Jenny Lawton, who, in turn, replaced the company’s founder, Bre Pettis. The employee says, “It’s about 20 percent of staff. Everyone suspected that something would be coming with the new CEO, and that there would be restructuring coming.” 

I was just told at Inside 3D Printing that, despite being a subsidiary, MakerBot operates almost as its own company.  That, however, seems to have chanced, as the unnamed employee went on to suggest to Motherboard that this was a part of a larger integration of the consumer 3D printer brand into its parent company, “It’s consolidating with Stratasys, so it’s economies of scale and looking at duplicate positions and consolidating. We have a new CEO, so he has a different plan in mind.” She added, apparently in tears, “I’m sorry, it’s a hard day.”

Following the Motherboard report, MakerBot issued an official statement, confirming that there were layoffs and, moreover, that all of the company’s retail locations had also been shutdown:

Today, we at MakerBot are re-organizing our business in order to focus on what matters most to our customers. As part of this, we have implemented expense reductions, downsized our staff and closed our three MakerBot retail locations.

With these changes, we will focus our efforts on improving and iterating our products, growing our 3D ecosystem, shifting our retail focus to our national partners and expanding our efforts in the professional and education markets.

Stratasys’ significant drop in Q4 earnings, from their high projections, was pinned by the company on the lackluster revenue of the MakerBot brand. Without the retail locations, however, the company will still have distribution through numerous partners, about which we’ve reported frequently in recent months, including retail channels Sam’s Club and Staples, as well as distributors WYNIT and D&H.

In the wake of the hype bubble associated with the technology, it seems that we are now experiencing a hype hangover.  Stock prices for 3D printing companies are no longer at the ridiculous levels they were last year and the industry is coming to face reality, which, in this case, is a grim one.  Fans of the Gartner Hype Cycle assure us that it is when the bubble has burst that true progress can be made, though this may not bring much comfort to the suddenly unemployed.