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Bankrupt Maker Faire revives, reduced to Make Community (techcrunch.com)
133 points by sohkamyung 6 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 96 comments





It seems kind of strange to me that he's running it as a for-profit private company but is asking for the support of the community to fund it. There's got to be a better structure for this kind of enterprise, right? And the explanation for why nonprofit doesn't work (“The one thing i don’t like about non-profit is that you end up working for the source you got the money from. You dance to their tune to get their funding”) doesn't really make sense. If he's taking someone else's money then yeah there's going to be some amount of dancing, but that applies to funding for-profits as well. Unless, I guess, you can convince a community to give your for-profit company funding in exchange for nothing with no strings attached, which seems - again - strange...

> dance to their tune to get their funding”) doesn't really make sense

It makes perfect sense to me, having worked for a couple of non-profits. A regular business gets money by selling products to people. A nonprofit gets money by selling good feelings to rich people.

Often, one of those good feelings a rich person buys is a sense of control. They don't just give you money and say go; they give you money for a very specific purpose. Often, to get that money you have to apply for grants, meaning that you must conform to their desires up front, write a big project plan, and the follow that plan closely to receive the money. It's very much a waterfall approach to things, which can cause a lot of waste, and can be very distracting for people who want to focus on the non-profit mission. You also of course need a whole apparatus to find and flatter those rich people, which isn't free.

Basically non-profits sound like a better vehicle in theory than they are in practice for many purposes. And they don't guarantee fiscal probity from the community's perspective. A non-profit exec can still pay themselves millions of dollars [1].

For what it's worth, I am happy to help out community-oriented for-profit businesses. E.g., San Francisco's Borderlands Books, which is community-sponsored [1]. I give them $100/year just because I want them to keep existing, and bookstores in SF aren't really viable businesses anymore.

[1] https://www.erieri.com/blog/post/top-10-highest-paid-ceos-at...

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/feb/25/borderlands-bo...


But couldn't they do the exact same things as they'll do now, only with the tax breaks of a non profit? If they're soliciting funding from the community in the same way, what difference does it make? A large contributor or customer could try to exert control either way, couldn't they?

I think there are two separate but tangled questions here: becoming a non-profit (as traditionally understood) and using a 501c3 as a legal entity (to keep doing exactly what they're doing). I was mainly talking about the former; it sounds like you're asking about the latter.

As far as I know, the only 501c3 tax break is to donors. So the question is whether that will get them sufficiently more money to make it worth the significant downsides, restrictions, and increases in administrative hassle. I expect for small donors, it doesn't make much difference. And regardless, I'd be willing to trust that they know what they're doing in this regard.


You seem to be describing a (for profit) relationship between a small to medium size IT vendor and a large blue chip, and the internal decision making process of a blue chip as well.

No, it's more like the relationship between a small store that adds value to a community in ways that don't appear in GAAP calculations, and a corporation that extracts value from communities in ways that ditto.

It's going to take a while for it to become clear if this new venture is the first or the second type.

Obviously everyone is hoping for the former.


You mean for how a 501c3 interacts with donors and foundations? Yeah, it seems to be very often like that. I've talked with people in the non-profit world who are trying to make 501c3s work more like startups, where what investors/donors are paying for is exploration and learning. But apparently that's vanishingly rare.

Yes, that is the case if you are funding your non-profit from large donations.

But there is nothing stopping a non-profit from selling products and services to individuals and or soliciting small donations from lots of people.

So I don't agree that this is a legitimate reason to go for profit.


If you would like to give it a try, I encourage it. But if you're not going to raise money except in small donations, then I don't see any advantage in doing a 501c3, and there are a lot of disadvantages. There's also nothing stopping an LLC or a C corp from "selling products and services to individuals and or soliciting small donations from lots of people", and that's a much more straightforward and flexible entity.

Sure there are advantages. If you have retained earnings at the end of the year with a c-corp, you have to pay corporate taxes.

With a 501c3, you don't. Although I think there are some limitations.


Selling products and services would make them a hybrid (for-profit/non-profit) organization. The sales would be subject to sales tax. Without a 501(c)(3) status, they also wouldn't be eligible for many grants to secure larger fundings.

That's incorrect. You can sell products and charge sales tax as a non-profit.

Just look at the American Red Cross, they sell the blood that is donated to them.

You of course can't have a profit that is distributed at the end of the year. But you can keep "profits" in the organization for furthering the goals of the 501c3.


Yeah. I don’t understand why they can’t just run as a conference company. That seems like the obvious business model. Send the magazine for free to last years attendees, which gives you free advertising for next years conference.

If you have to “dance to the beat of someone’s drum” why not make it the people who are huge fans of the experience you produce?


Because, if you read the article posted here a month ago, they were losing their arse doing exactly that.

The impression I took away from that article was they had 22 full-time employees all year round, to produce one weekend in New York; one weekend in San Mateo; a print magazine; and licensing the brand to affiliated events.

The two weekend events presumably only occupied a small fraction of them, except in the immediate ramp-up to the events.


This sort of dismissiveness is the same sort of cluelessness that leads most people to think software should only take a week to code.

Complex things take skill, time, and effort. If it's not your domain it's very likely you are severely underestimating the work involved.


I am the co-founder of an annual weekend even infinitesimally smaller than the NY Maker Faire. It takes our staff a huge amount of work just to pull it off every year. You can’t wing an event - all the parts need to come together like clockwork or you Fyre Festival. You are coordinating all of these vendors, third party participants, venues, etc... which is like herding cats.

22 sounds like a really lean staff to pull off such vast events.


>>The two weekend events presumably only occupied a small fraction of them,

Clearly you have never organized a large event before


I'm the founder and CEO of a national conference/events business, producing a dozen events a year and significant editorial content.

What's being described is way too many people, unless they're all heavily ROI-positive sales people, in which case this problem doesn't exist.


I'm part of a large scale events team (albeit as a programmer). 22 full time staff for two weekend events is pretty insane.

They also published a magazine 6 times a year, many tutorial books (I have acquired a few over the years) and publishing lots of DIY project guides online.

I worked briefly with a team that did 16 events a year nationwide + put out a (print edition) weekly periodical, the team was only about 14. Most of the staff worked on the periodical. 22 seems really high.

Their CEO was the same guy who felt it was appropriate to get his company involved with a community dispute over if Naomi Wu was a "real" maker or secretly propped up by her boyfriend.

I don't get the impression he is a very good steward of the brand.

It's too bad, too. Maker Fair is one of the most important events in the penninusla. It's hugely important to educational efforts and a major focus for local makers who otherwise won't turn a profit outside of efforts like Bizarre Bazaar, which are quite expensive to attend.


Except many of the big sponsors weren't convinced this year.

There is a middle ground between Non-Profit and Traditional For Profit...

Public Benefit Corporations

I do agree however is " You dance to their tune to get their funding" do not make alot of sense, you do that if you are non-profit or for-profit... You have to dance to the tune of customers if your for-profit, or donors if your non-profit... His lack of ability to under stand that is likely one reason the company when bankrupt.... If you do not deliver a product consumer what to buy you go out of business....


Carboot sales model would be the closest one that would work out well for all.

I'd be looking more at a Benefit Corp. It's a for-profit, with no monetary reasons for the corporate charter.

https://benefitcorp.net/


The maker movement appears to be dead. At least in the SF peninsula.

TechShop went bankrupt. Its successor, "TheShop.build", closed their SF location, and briefly, the San Jose location had an eviction notice on the door. The noprofit, Maker Nexus, has pivoted to being mostly an educational operation for middle and high schoolers. HumanMade opens in SF Saturday, but that's more of a job training center.

Nobody seems to be able to make the "gym model" maker space go here.

Demand is down, too. Steampunk is dead. Etsy now allows outsourcing production. There's too much Burning Man stuff already built. Google, Facebook, and Stanford all have in-house maker spaces now.


I think the issue is that the market just didn't materialize, not dead as you say, but not nearly as big as it needed to become.

I think of Make as part of the O'Reilly Media story. The MO there for the last 35 years is to jump on emerging trends. When that trend blows up, the business does really well. It's probably easiest to see by looking at O'Reilly's conference history. OSCON, Strata, Web 2.0 where all hits with long shelf lives. Where 2.0, ETel, etc were interesting trends that didn't get big enough.

I was just leaving O'Reilly when Make was starting and the idea was that it might become the next Popular Mechanics. Make got traction, but not quite at the level where Maker projects were a normalized part of life. For all the comments saying 22 people was a lot of people, that's really not a very big company.

However, I think it's still such a great community and I love that Dale is finding a way to make it work. The phrase "rightsizing" has such bad connotations, but it shouldn't. There's a size business that fits the actual size if the Maker community. If they get that "right" then everyone can be happy.


>Nobody seems to be able to make the "gym model" maker space go here.

The problem as I see it is that a gym has specific outputs that you want from your time (ie: be stronger, lower heart rate, etc.). Given Bay Area salaries, it's probably always cheaper to just pay someone in the mid west to build something than to do it yourself. So there's no positive monetary output.

So a maker space's output is pure enjoyment and that doesn't scale as much with better equipment. You can do woodworking without a CNC machine and lasers and a metal lathe. You can 3d print for your projects at home instead of trying to use vacuum formers and sheet metal. Without having to deal with people and scheduling and driving.

The only advantage I see of a maker space is the community but that's more of a non-profit model rather than a for-profit gym model. Community is much easier to achieve with shared ownership versus renting from someone else. It also doesn't need fancy equipment but just enough for people to come together.

edit: Community is also harder when you have fifty different machines that cater to fifty different niches.


> The problem as I see it is that a gym has specific outputs that you want from your time (ie: be stronger, lower heart rate, etc.). Given Bay Area salaries, it's probably always cheaper to just pay someone in the mid west to build something than to do it yourself. So there's no positive monetary output.

Not only is this not true, but it's also not the point. The point is to do it yourself, and the Maker movement has always catered to that. Self-makers have always had to charge more for their crafts than mass produced models, citing scarcity and often component quality (especially true for digital electronics).

> The only advantage I see of a maker space is the community but that's more of a non-profit model rather than a for-profit gym model. Community is much easier to achieve with shared ownership versus renting from someone else. It also doesn't need fancy equipment but just enough for people to come together.

Which maker space was using a non-profit model?


>Not only is this not true, but it's also not the point. The point is to do it yourself, and the Maker movement has always catered to that. Self-makers have always had to charge more for their crafts than mass produced models, citing scarcity and often component quality (especially true for digital electronics).

So, like I said, it's about enjoyment and not monetary output.

>Which maker space was using a non-profit model?

Probably 90% of them in any area are non-profits, they're just small and don't have fancy machinery.


I was a Techshop member. There were, in fact, a number of folks who made made money. I wasn't privy to their finances so I don't know that TS-enabled projects were there primary income, but it was most certainly used by people doing contract work.

So was I (San Jose location.) One of their mistakes was requiring "classes" before using any equipment - then restricting the hours to 9 - 5. I phoned in a complaint but nothing was done.

Tip: the members who can afford it are working so they have disposable cash.

Also - the location was prime downtown. Better to find an industrial park.

It was weird seeing the active members making Stormtrooper costumes mainly.


The gym model doesn't work in the bay area because real estate is so expensive. No one wants to pay $300/m to be a member of a makerspace.

And if real estate is cheap then you have a giant garage filled with equipment that can fill almost all your needs.

Have you been to a makerspace? Most have, at a minimum, woodworking tools, metalworking tools, a laser cutter, and a CNC router. Very few people can justify buying all of those things for themselves. A high powered laser cutter alone is $10k+ for a decent Chinese model. A good professional model can run $30k+.

Your numbers are off by a lot. I bought a surprisingly capable 80W laser cutter for $3k on eBay and a lightly used X-carve for $2k. Many people spend more than that on upgrades for their car. Additionally, if you need less capabilities, you can get a 3D printer + laser cutter + cnc mill combo for not too much.

Sure, I go to one myself. Thing is that people rarely need all those things. The gym model works on 90% of members not actually using the space much. But in those cases they can just buy equipment themselves if they have space. Not equivalent and not all of it but good enough for their limited needs.

Also, you can get a usable laser cutter for $500 if you are willing to put in the hours to update the shitty Chinese components. $3-6k gives you a decent 40-45w one (Glowforge, etc.). Won't cut beyond 1/4" but that covers a lot of projects.


I don't think so. Certainly even if I had a big garage I'd balk at buying a woodshop.

Chinese made machinery (or used machinery from craigslist) is rather inexpensive (and good enough for non professional use) and $100+/month membership fees will add up over time. You can get some nice equipment for $5k which would be less than your dues for 5 years.

I've actually helped run a woodshop for a school as part of volunteer work back before I had a kid. It's a huge amount of work. Even if we pretend the machines are cheap (they aren't), then we're still talking about setting up a space that's safe to work in, cleaning it, maintaining the machines, properly powering them (if you get more than a few industrial machines your power provider will want to charge you differently because they consume power differently).

Even just a few desktop fabrication things are a lot of work to own and maintain. It's really, really nice to have a space you can go, do work, and then enjoy that without the cleanup and maintenance.


A basic table saw is $200 on Amazon, a miter saw is $200, drill press is $200, a planer is $500 but there's hand tools for that, etc. Low end but they'll work. Biggest expense would be dust filtration system if you don't want to vacuum constantly. There's probably more people with garage wood shops in the US than makers.

You keep assuming that you need industrial machines that can be used 24/7 to do these things when in reality you don't. You can use hand tools even but those take more time.

>I've actually helped run a woodshop for a school as part of volunteer work back before I had a kid.

I'd call that a professional space since it's used most of the time rather than occasionally.


> A basic table saw is $200 on Amazon, a miter saw is $200, drill press is $200, a planer is $500 but there's hand tools for that, etc. Low end but they'll work. Biggest expense would be dust filtration system if you don't want to vacuum constantly. There's probably more people with garage wood shops in the US than makers.

There's people with little baby jigsaws and a circular saw. Folks with actual lathes, CNC routers that could handle hardwood, actual band saws or full sized table saws? Not so much.

> You keep assuming that you need industrial machines that can be used 24/7 to do these things when in reality you don't. You can use hand tools even but those take more time.

No, I don't. A school shop maybe runs the machines for a few hours every other day. It's still expensive.

> I'd call that a professional space since it's used most of the time rather than occasionally.

Okay, well I'd call "$200 on Amazon, a miter saw is $200, drill press is $200, a planer is $500" a professional budget to most people in America, so let's call it even?


"Table saws in use in the United States: Estimates range between 6 million and 10 million... in any particular year, about one table saw in 229 will be in an accident that sends someone to the emergency room." https://www.popularwoodworking.com/article/table-saw-injury-...

TechShop had the sense to use only SawStop saws.

What is this comment meant to imply?

The failure of IoT and consumer 3D printers also helped kill the Maker movement. Along with Pebble and countless other failed Kickstarter projects.

Hardware is hard. Best to stick with software based businesses.


Y'know, it was the arrival of IoT and consumer 3D printers (and drones, etc.) that really killed the maker movement for me. After Make Magazine started devoting every other issue to consumer products that cost $500 and up, I finally conceded that the Maker movement had become a firmly upper middle class pastime, and canceled my subscription.

I disagree with the "upper middle class” gripe.

Instructables is still resourceful if you don't like consumer product reviews. There are also tons of hacks on YouTube and build logs on forums.

I think a the maker inertia is killed by dwindling creativity, access to equipment and fear of losing out to Chinese competition if you intend on bringing your product to market.

*I could be wrong


TBH, of the 3 alternative reasons you present, I kind of view all of them as being somehow related to my gripe.

"Dwindling creativity" because all these expensive tools are creatively limiting. For example, 3D printing is cool, but, compared to lower-tech methods, it can also be a lot to wrangle. Once upon a time, if you needed to make a part, you'd hand-carve it, or cast a rough version and then finish it. There's very little between you and the act of creation. With 3D printing, you've got to worry about what kinds of shapes your printer can and cannot make, and have to spend a whole bunch of time on CAD, calibration, etc, etc. My own suspicion is that, oftentimes, the thing you're making is just a by-product, an excuse to play with the expensive toy.

"Access to equipment" -- yup. Once upon a time, DIY was about doing things on the cheap, and there was a lot more stuff being done with inexpensive hand tools, many of which could readily be acquired at estate sales and the like. Now you apparently need to blow a typical person's monthly entertainment budget on a makerspace membership in order to get access to laser cutters and CNC lathes.

"Bringing your product to market" just isn't a part of the DIY I originally loved. To me, DIY is a hobby you do for fun, and a creative outlet, not a yet another form of startup incubation.


What do you mean the failure of consumer 3D printers? 3D printers are now cheap, large, and reliable.

not sure what the other fellow meant, but when 3D printing first hit the scene, the hype was that we'd all be printing replacement parts for our broken appliances and what not. i'd bet my pants that there have been more Benchys printed than repair/replacement parts for consumer appliances.

It's hard to make parts for things that are designed to be unrepairable.

That said it's also hella not cost effective. I'm in $400 or more, and have only printed a few daily use items. My printed clothes dryer knob has been working great for a few years, and my printed curtain rod brackets are working fine so far this summer. The replacement button I made for my father's CNC lathe is working fine a few years in too. That said, being able to sketch something, bang it out in openscad, and have a part waiting for me on the bed the next morning is pretty magical.


Exactly. "consumer" is the important qualifier. Yes printers are relatively cheap and reliable, but even the most consumer-centric printers are far from "plug and play" last I checked.

When there is a printer that an "average" person can take from new-in-box to reliably printing Benchys in less than 24hours then consumer 3D printing will have arrived. We aren't there now, and I'm not sure when, if ever, we will be.


Pebble wasn't a failed Kickstarter project; it was a successful Kickstarter project that was then bought up and killed off by Fitbit.

"Pebble was losing money, with no profit in sight." - discussion at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13161832

Well, right before they were bought, they were in deep financial trouble. They didn't reach the volume they planned to have. I would not say Pebble is a failed Kickstarter project, but they were going bankrupt. Ie. failing as a company.

Wrong. Pebble croaked and Fitbit got them on the cheap when they basically liquidated.

It’s simply cheaper to buy equipment yourself.

A 40W laser cutter costs $300. AD 3D printer costs $300. An oscilloscope cost $500. A crappy CNC is not much more. Hot air rework station is $60. PCBs can be ordered in China for $10.

I buy these things as I need them.

The quality is way lower than what you can find at a maker space, but I don’t need the highest quality for a hobby experiment.


Which 40W lasercutter is 300 USD? The cheapest models I know (4040) are 800 USD + taxes.

It's dead everywhere, because it never really existed. At least from the examples in my area, the "maker spaces" were operated like badly run city departments crossed with failing small businesses.. every mistake you could make in management combined with a holier than thou attitude, cronyism and favoritism, all wrapped up in a dangerous workshop in the name of the "movement".

I think there's room in the market for shared workspace, but it has to be done with a for profit model and competent management, maybe renting space like mini storage units do, but with tool leasing and set up to encourage 24/7 access and work (IE, not in a residential neighborhood not zoned for light industry).


I've heard cool things about noisebridge. I also know lots of people in the bay area who do maker type stuff. It's just more distributed.

At least in Germany, the Maker Faires still seem to be doing fine. They are done by Maker Media GmbH, which is part of Heise Publishing Group (they do the c't and iX magazines). They don't publish numbers on how specifically Maker Media is doing, but at least the Maker Faires seem to be doing OK since they pretty much have record visitor numbers every year and are expanding (the one I go to in Hannover will expand from 2 to 3 halls this year).

I guess the trick is to find the sweet spot in the exhibitors. You need to have plenty of "real Makers", otherwise the Faire loses its spirit, but you also need commercial exhibitors from which you can get "real" money. I remember from last year in Hannover, the big commercial exhibitors were Nintendo (who showcased their Labo stuff), Volkswagen, and Conrad Electronics (big reseller here in Germany). Also, lots of food trucks outside. But all in all, it was still acceptable in my book, and my kid loved it. So I think this can well be done with profit, but I guess that being part of a big technical publishing group also creates lots of synergy which saves cost.


I think heise did publish a statement that Maker Media GmbH is doing fine and that the Maker Faires will continue in the forseeable future.

Atleast in my parts, Conrad is a big sponsor of Maker stuff (they profit of the parts, after all, especially makers that don't want to handle customs), so they're fine in my book. From what I know from german makers on youtube and IRL, the fair is pretty decent and well staffed with actual makers.


> From what I know from german makers on youtube and IRL, the fair is pretty decent and well staffed with actual makers.

I can confirm. It has definitely gotten more commercial over the years, and I also wish they would get rid of some stuff that plain weirds me out (don't get me started on the BattleBot arena... also, some of the cosplayers...), but as I said: all in all, it's still OK.


Maker Cosplay? Do they dress up as MOSFETs?

Some definitions of "maker" are pretty expansive, including things like sewing, knitting, brewing, woodworking, jewellery making, upcycling, sculpture, ham radio, bicycle repair, and suchlike.

If you use such a definition, a cosplayer who makes their own props and sews their own costumes qualifies for sure.


Well, then comes this: https://www.kotaku.com.au/2019/07/look-at-this-spider-man-co...

Some costumes require custom mechanical props. Spiderman's eyes in recent movies have the mechanical-quirk. So reproducing that mechanism in real-life is certainly a Cosplay + Maker thing.

There's a lot of Cosplayers using LED Lights for highly color-accurate "glowing" effects (common for high-end Overwatch Cosplayers). Some cosplayers are just sewing / stiching things (which is fine: that's still a skill), but there are other cosplayers who are putting serious effort into their electronic components of their costumes.


True yeah, though personally, I'm very deep in the 3DPrinter/Electronics part of the maker community, so I'm not that exposed to the other parts. I do however do some woodworking and such. I was just surprised that there were cosplayers, wouldn't have suspected it myself since I've never heard of it.

Take a look at Naomi Wu. I think he's referring to her archetype when he mentions cosplay at a maker faire.

No, this is not about people like Naomi Wu. She is a maker and she can dress as she likes. The German Maker Faire has actual cosplayers, and some of them have put an enormous amount of time into their costumes and so they fit well into something like Maker Faire. However, there are also these "romantic Middle Ages" people and yes, sometimes also scantily clad women. It's really no big deal, though.

Depending on what went into the costume, it may fit into a maker fare (ie, 3d printing parts of the costume, for example). I don't mind cosplayers all that much, they're generally fairly nice people.

If it's DIY, it's DIY, even if there's not a single bit of 3D printing, casting, forging, milling, or electronics involved.

One thing that has historically put me off about the maker community is these artificial distinctions where materials and ways of making things that have historically been considered "girl stuff" get less respect, or sometimes don't even get recognized as making at all.


True, if it's DIY it's Maker. I don't mind "girl stuff", nor do I like the separation. I don't see a reason why I should limit myself to socially preapproved maker topics.

I think you have to draw some boundaries on the topics you will celebrate in order to avoid being taken over by huge companies promoting their bland consumer products, but then a few people draw the boundaries in ways that exclude genuinely creative passion projects. In my opinion the goal should be to showcase the creative work of people who build things for the love of it, and avoid providing a platform for promotion of established products.

You got a good point there. I'm sorry I brought this up.

Why isn't Make attached to a store that actually sells DIY kits and parts? Seems like a clear business model to me. Or at the very least, better than print publishing.

Now, they probably don't have the capital or wherewithal to start selling electronics now, but a company like Adafruit or Sparkfun should take over the Make mantle and just use it to put out good guides and drive kit sales.


They have had a very solid store business at one point selling electronic kits. (Pi's, Arduino, etc).

A few years ago the kits were even in every Barnes and Nobel ni the country at Christmas. (And sadly most of them were in the clearance bin in January...)


Yeah, the commitment to print publishing is the part I don't get. He's tying himself to the mast of a sinking ship.

There was https://www.makershed.com, which is currently out of business.

It mostly only sold kits, drones, 3D printers, stuff like that. Very little in the way of individual parts and tools. Which always struck me as a bit of a problem -- it more-or-less sold a strict subset of the actual DIY stuff that you could get at competing retailers. So maybe they'd sell someone their very first Arduino starter kit, but it must have been really hard to retain repeat customers. Having bought that Arudino kit and completed all the introductory projects, when the time comes to start getting more creative, you're going to have to go somewhere else to buy, say, an LCD display or a fistful of capacitors. And you'd presumably stay there, since there were so few things you could get at Makershed that you couldn't also get somewhere that sells the other stuff you need.

In short, it was kind of a lot like what Radio Shack had become in the end, only even more so.


Hackaday is doing this with Tindie, they seem to be doing pretty well.

Where did all the money go?

It's a niche market but 80,000 subscribers and 100,000 attendees in San Mateo alone should be able to keep the lights on.


If I remember correctly, they had a stupidly large permanent staff for what they do, taking California-level salaries.

I interviewed there. Very cool office near the SF waterfront. Lots of staff. Even 5 years ago, clearly unprofitable and relying on funding. I recall thinking at the time that their executives smelled the blood in the water. I sure did.

Pretty sure salaries for editors and writers are still pretty low, even in California.

22 employees cost a lot of money!

I think there is some definite educational and inspirational value to Maker Fair and magazine. I guess that's more domain of non profits, but maybe some philanthropic education funds could lend a hand for the more educational aspects.

Of interest an exceptional example of educational community around "maker stuff" funded by a great shop is https://www.adafruit.com/about , a lot of excellent work there!


Sadly it's not the 70/80s anymore, most people don't give a damn about building stuff when they wake up in the morning, you need special sfx or something really spectacular to attract people, especially kids, who will shot selfies and videos near the giant sized robot|working jet backpack|150Km/h electric skate| etc. to climb their online social ladder. If you're smart you can slip some cool device, development system, analog electronics kits etc. under the radar and get a few of them to learn something when they get back home, but you have to provide motivation; curiosity alone works only for a small subset among us. So, why not partnering with schools and institutes? Wouldn't be nice if they rent a lab to a school for technical lessons, then assign tasks to teams and have say every 3 months the winning project published on the magazine? That would create competition encouraging more users/schools to join while boosting sales.

The gist is: you don't sell many Van de Graaf Generators (the device, not the band:^) kits until you show what happens to the girl's hair when she touches the electrode.


I went to the maker faire in NYC a few years ago. There was lots of cool stuff, but unfortunately about 60% of it were various slight mods/etc of 3d printers. Lots weren't even special, just a brand promoting itself.

O god yes. I went to the same NYC maker faires. It was completely absurd how many were just 3d printers rehashed.

The magazine had gotten to be the same thing. 90%+ of it was reviews or little blurbs about 3d printers.

To some extent, I think this is good. While the Maker Faire is iconic and I'd like to preserve that at all cost, the actual org behind it is poorly managed and inexplicably for-profit.

It makes me think that there is room for new non-profits focusing on what people actually wanna do in the various venues as opposed to be a generalist system. I hope someone will compete in this fashion.


Make: magazine seems like it should be as viable as any magazine (which means: maybe or maybe not?)

Maker Faire will probably be better if it's primarily run by volunteers and has fewer corporate sponsors.


I was an early subscriber, but it seemed like the magic of the early issues really faded after the first two years or so. I hope they can recapture a bit of that.

The first time I saw the Tesla Model S was at Maker Faire in May 2009. It changed my life.



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