The Rise and Fall of the Everyman Tycoon

Article about the rise and fall of MakerBot by Andrew Zaleski at Backchannel:

Itwas October 2009 when Bre Pettis — his unmistakable sideburns and dark-rimmed rectangular glasses framing his face — took the stage at Ignite NYC, threw his hand in the air, and shouted “Hooray!” two times. A PowerPoint slide lit up behind him, revealing a photo of a hollow wood box crisscrossed with wiring. Bouncing up and down, his profuse mop of graying hair flopping about, Pettis began: “I’m going to talk about MakerBot and the future and an industrial revolution that we’re beginning — that’s begun.”

A former art teacher, Pettis had emerged as a key character in the growing maker movement of the late 2000s, a worldwide community of tinkerers who holed away in makeshift workshops and hackerspaces, equally at home with tools like old-school lathes and contemporary laser cutters. Pettis had begun his ascent in 2006, producing weekly videos for MAKE magazine—the maker movement’s Bible—that featured him navigating goofy tasks such as powering a light bulb with a modified hamster wheel. In 2008, he cofoundedthe NYC Resistor hackerspace in Brooklyn. By then, Pettis was a star. A year later, he launched a Brooklyn-based startup with friends Adam Mayer and Zach Smith (also a NYC Resistor cofounder) called MakerBot... (full article)

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