MakerBot recently let go a large number of staff. Does this mean the 3D printing industry is in trouble? We think not.
Yes, MakerBot laid off around 100 staff a few weeks ago. This represented a good chunk of their company. At first glance this would signal big troubles – a company not able to meet its financial obligations may be forced into laying off a portion of its non-critical workforce to gain cash flow for ongoing operations. Some pundits in the mass media hint this event shows trouble in 3D printing land.
But that’s likely not the case at MakerBot.
MakerBot, you must remember, is not a company. It was – but then it was acquired by industry giant Stratasys. Today it’s more of a product line or brand of the much larger Stratasys, who are eminently profitable.
So what’s going on then?
We think it’s mostly corporate clean up. MakerBot began as a standalone company and thus had to fill all required staff roles. With the merger, it is clear there would be duplication of roles between the two companies, particularly on the administrative side.
It’s also possible MakerBot’s recent sales have been lower than their plans, perhaps due to increased competition or overly ambitious plans. The latter is quite possible as it would have been to MakerBot’s advantage to have bigger goals at the time of acquisition, because Stratasys would have paid more to acquire the company.
If there were truly an issue in the 3D printing world, we would see similar effects at other organizations. And aside from the occasional Kickstarter “crash” by small startups, most 3D printing companies continue to boom. Almost without exception, every 3D printing company we’ve spoken with recently indicates they’re exploding at ridiculous growth rates. “Doubling” is a word commonly used.
So the state of 3D printing is strong, even with the MakerBot layoffs.