Posts Tagged Makerbot

So Long, and thanks for all the fish!

This week was my last week with MakerBot.

Two-ish year ago phooky asked me to interview as a lead desktop developer.  I wasn’t really looking for a job, but since I respected him and his incredible hacks, I agreed.  At the time it was a small pre-funding startup. To work with a hacker I respected so much, and on 100% Open Source technology was enough of a draw me from Philadelphia to work in Brooklyn.  Since then I’ve been shuttling back and forth from Philly to Brooklyn most of the week so I could herd the nerds for MakerBot.   It’s been an amazing opportunity, but a recent addition to my family means I need to be in Philly full time.

MakerBot gave me the challenge and honour of building a great department to create a stellar product. I also had the rare joy of a blank slate on which to redesign and implement our new desktop software stack, hand in hand with a group of  brilliant developers.   We created a new slicer, a new tool-chain system, a new device driver, and even a beautiful and simple UI on a tight schedule, with some great partners. Despite the controversy about closing some source access to MakerWare,  it’s a product I am very proud of.  It’s fast, robust.  It ran cleanly on 3 platforms from first day it shipped Without a doubt it is the most impactful product I’ve shipped. The most on-schedule product I’ve shipped too!

It’s quite bitter-sweet to be leaving MarkerBot, and a department I shaped, but c ‘est la vie.  Goodbye Brooklyn, and MakerBot!  It’s been an honour, a challenge, and a joy working with you.   I’ll miss the great humour, the inspired hacks, and the great brainstorming.   Even though you won’t really need it, I wish you all the best of luck.  With the pool of talent still there, I’m sure the company will grow and succeed regardless.  I’ll always look back fondly on the great time and great people I worked with at MakerBot,  and Ilook forward to seeing great products and projects you ship in the years to come.

… but at the same time, Hello Philadelpha!  It’s good to be back full time.  Lets get into some trouble.

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How is MoneyBall like MakerBot?

They both start with MB? Good start, but there’s more to it. Bear with me for a moment.

At 3PM today all-everyone at MakerBot’s BotCave and BotLair got together for some champagne, to toast to the release of The Replicator. Then I wrapped up the awesome day by going home and watching MoneyBall while exercising. I got thinking about it, and oddly enough, the movie is an apt metaphor for what is going around MakerBot.

MoneyBall, TL;DR version: Fictionalized story of how Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta created an awesome Oakland A’s season (2002) by buying undervalued talented players instead of buying star players they couldn’t afford.

So where is the Metaphor? A lot of people think the Yankeee’s just buy their way to wins (it’s true), and for a season or two the underdog A’s outsmarted the whole of the game, and could pick the best talent. Something not-totally dissimilar is going on in the 3D printing world. 3D-Systems just bought out Z-Corp and Vidar. They just announced the Cube which they are throw gobs of money into developing a Thingiverse replacement (tightly tied to their machine) and a desktop printer that just narrowly under-cuts the MakerBot series in price. They are trying to buy their way into the top position, with profits from years of milking over-broad patents.

MakerBot isn’t the most under-dog under-dog out there. $10M isn’t chump change, sure. But it’s a sliver of the loot 3D Systems has. they dropped $137M this fall for Z-Corp and Vidar. The 2002 A’s salaries ($40M) vs Yankees salaries ($120M) isn’t such a bad comparison. We really don’t have a ton for moeny for high-end salaries. Most of that investment is going to some amazing (and top secret) projects. As a Software Dept manager, I hate to admit I’m making 2/3 of what I did as Sr. Developer in past jobs. But then again, every single person at MakerBot is feeling that same financial squeeze. We’re all in the same boat on that one. Like the 2002 A’s we have to get creative and grab talent where we can, because we just don’t have thing kind of money to outright buy our competition.

And who knows. If we do it right, 3D printer cartridges won’t be the rip-offs printer cartridges are. 3D printers will be repairable in a way no scanner or paper printer is. And 3D printing innovation space will look more like Linux, and less like Oracle. If you want to be a part of that, “>you should drop us a CV.

My personal views only. Not the views of my employer. No warranty or insult implied. Do not pass Go. Do not collect 200 dollars. Do not taunt happy fun ball. Of course, I work there so my opinion is probably a wee bit biased.

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Next month, I’m moving to the 67th ward

TL;DR Version

I’m moving up to Brooklyn to work at Makerbot at the start of next month. I’m going to be working on C/C++ end of things, herding nerds, and generally working with amazing people making fantastic products and projects. For the next few years, now my craft and my fortunes lie up in the the 67th ward of Philadelphia.

Woah! Makerbot!?

Yeah! Hellz yeah! Makerbot is pushing hard to expand the capacity of everyday people to shape their world in a way that was extremely costly just a few years ago. I want to be a part of that! They are clearly a company by hackers/DIY for hackers/DIY, and that shows in their products and their company decisions. They needed some more software developers and nerd coordinators, so they are bringing me on to help the next generation of awesome they are inventing.

I’ve crossed paths with Makerbot folks over the last few years, both in the Hackerspace scene and in my personal life. Since it would involved leaving Philadelphia I never really considered working for them until this spring. At that point I realized that maybe, sadly, I’d have to leave Philly to master my craft, and I started watching for opportunities outside of the area.

WTF? I Thought you love Philly

Yeah, I love Philadelphia. When I moved here like 5 years ago, my first day in town I stopped by P’unk Ave and Geoff showed me around his neighborhood. I fell in love with the city almost immediately. From 52nd Street/Baltimore to the far reaches of Castor Ave, I’ve biked, walked, and hung out in all corners of the city. I love this place, I love the people here, and I’m going to miss it.

I expect that I’ll be back, like MacArthur but minus the US Military presence and minus the pipe. Until I do come back I’ll keep in contact with folks here, and will try to be a great envoy of the Philly tech scene.

What about $PROJECT_X

Hive76 is going it’s own direction (a direction I respect but don’t agree with) so I’ve not been involved there for a while. The Hacktory is rolling along well with Georgia Guthrie at the helm. I backed away from helping on Ignite Philly last fall, and the rest of project I was working with were one-time projects. That leaves only Ship It Society as the only ongoing project I’ll need to hand off.

Wow. I hadn’t thought about all of those until just now. I guess I’ve managed to do a few things since I got involved in Philly. I’m glad I’m leaving Philadelphia a bit culturally richer than when I got here.


Honestly, I don’t know what I’m doing. I theoretically gave up working on start-ups a couple of years ago. But when an amazing group of developers says ‘Hey, please apply, we think you’d be a great fit here’ what does one do? I think (after a long conversation with family) take that chance. Every sane instinct I have tells me not to do it, but they are building some amazing technology, and I’d like to be building amazing things, with great people. P.S. Thanks to merz for the idea for this blog-post format

I will be having a Far Will B.R.B. Party sometime this fall. For a few months I’ll still be living here weekends, and I’m saving the B.R.B. for sometime this fall. Maybe around I’ll do it around halloween-time with costumes? Look for an email.

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Goodbye Buglabs!

I rewrote this post several times trying to get the tone right, and trying to waste some time on my way to Chaos Communication Camp 2011. The long and short of it is that as of this Tuesday I’m no longer working at Bug Labs. I’m taking a few weeks off to do some house-work, to go to CCC and have a short vacation in Berlin. And in about 2 weeks I’ll be starting at Makerbot as a C/C++ Engineer and Nerd Herder.

I’ll get to Makerbot in a week or so when I start. For now, I’d like to write a good send-off for Bug Labs. Bug Labs is an awesome place to work, and I would recommend to anyone that working there is a great experience, and an amazing opportunity. Overall I really satisfied with working for them, and day to day work-life was great. They did a great job of doing a 2/3 day workweek, with me in NYC for Monday/Tuesday, and working from Philly the rest of the week. For those reasons I’m sad to end my tenure there.

For the big picture, well that was not working out as well as I hoped. Bug Labs has some great challenges ahead of them. But these are Challenges I don’t have much skill for or interest in. I know it sounds kind of cheesy but I think going in a new direction is the best decision for me, and frees up Bug to throw some resources in a new direction.

So, Thank you Bug Labs for the opportunity and I’ll be watching the news with interested to see where things go from here.

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