Maker Media CEO and founder Dale Dougherty confirmed to TechCrunch that the company was ceasing operations and that it had laid off 22 employees, citing financial difficulties with publishing a magazine and the lack of corporate sponsorship. “I started this 15 years ago and it’s always been a struggle as a business to make this work,” he told TechCrunch. “Print publishing is not a great business for anybody, but it works…barely. Events are hard . . . there was a drop off in corporate sponsorship.”
Launched in 2005, Maker became a major publication covering the “Maker Movement,” a culture that embraced do-it-yourself making and tinkering, involving everything from 3D printing, electronics, robotics, metal and woodworking, and other pursuits. The company launched its first Maker Faire a year later in San Mateo, California, and has since licensed the name to hundreds of exhibitions all over the world.
TechCrunch notes that Dougherty is working to try and keep the company from collapsing entirely, to keep the magazine’s archives online and to license the name to future events. “I hope to be able to get control of the assets of the company and restart it. We’re not necessarily going to do everything we did in the past but I’m committed to keeping the print magazine going and the Maker Faire licensing program.”
The collapse of the company is a huge blow to the larger making community, providing a central outlet to encourage people to learn how to build their own things, rather than just relying on companies to manufacture gadgets and products. Through its events and magazine, it provided directions, highlighted notable makers, and ideas for projects. Former Mythbusters co-host Adam Savage, who was a regular presence at the Maker Faire, said on Twitter that it was “a very sad day,” and told The Verge that “Make Media has created so many important new connections between people across the world. It showed the power from the act of creation. We are the better for its existence and I am sad. I also believe that something new will grow from what they built. The ground they laid is too fertile to lie fallow for long.”