Back in February, it was reported that the CEO of MakerBot at the time, Jenny Lawton, would be promoted to a new position within Stratasys, while Jonathan Jaglom would be taking over her duties as CEO of MakerBot. At the time, it came as quite the surprise to some, who had thought that Lawton was only just beginning to settle into the new position.
Jaglom, a name familiar to those who have been covering the 3D printing space, brings with him over a decade of experience within the 3D printing industry. Starting out with Objet Geometries in 2005, and then moving onto Stratasys officially in 2009, he has worked in many different departments within these companies, thus bringing with him an understanding for how a company runs from top to bottom — just the understanding you would want from the CEO of a company.
This week at 3D Print Week NY, Jaglom was on hand to give a keynote presentation for MecklerMedia’s Inside 3D Printing Conference. After his talk, I had the chance to meet with Jaglom and speak with him about his new role with MakerBot, where he sees the company going in the future, and what he think he can bring to the most popular desktop 3D printer manufacturer in the world.
Jaglom presented some very interesting details, showing how quickly both MakerBot and Thingiverse have been growing. He presented some impressive stats that really show just how large of a presence his company has. To date, there have been over 80,000 MakerBot 3D printers sold, representing 33% of all desktop 3D prints in the world (according to Wohler’s Report). The company has been growing at a substantial rate, and sales continue to increase.
Thingiverse, MakerBot’s repository of free downloadable 3D printable files, has been following in the same path, growing at perhaps an even more rapid rate. To date, there have been over 700,000 digital designs uploaded to the site, with these designs being downloaded an incredible 1 million times per week (as of Q4, 2014). This is almost three times the weekly download total that the company saw just one year ago.
Jaglom also touched on the MakerBot Digital Store, admitting that the company was a bit too optimistic when they launched this platform toward the end of 2013. However, he applauded the fact that MakerBot isn’t afraid to be innovators among the space, saying that they will continue to be active in their decision making, rather than reactive. It is this active approach which he feels is needed to maintain the company’s position, perched atop the desktop 3D printing space. Admitting that the company won’t always hit gold when coming up with new ideas, he promised that they will always be willing to try new things. At the same time though, he still believes strongly in the Digital Store, saying that the market will eventually be ready for such a platform. Perhaps it won’t be this year or next, but when consumers are ready to begin purchasing 3D designs to print at home, MakerBot will have been in well under the ground floor.
One question that I’m usually always keen on asking the CEO of MakerBot, as I have asked Jenny Lawton and Bre Pettis in the past, is if the company will ever venture outside the realm of FDM-based machines and onto other technologies such as SLA. As expected, Jaglom would not provide a direct answer, but I did walk away feeling as though the company may just have something up their sleeves. Jaglom reiterated MakerBot’s determination to be leaders within the space, and noted that they are constantly working on exploring new technologies and other means to remain the leaders that they are. As for the 6th Generation of MakerBot 3D printers, we didn’t see a new hardware model this year, but that has been mostly because the company has been focused on developing their entire ecosystem, which includes much more than just hardware. At the same time though, Jaglom emphasized again that his team is constantly working on the next big thing. I personally wouldn’t be surprised one bit if some sort of new hardware is revealed at CES next year, but then again that’s just my own personal inclination.
The MakerBot ecosystem is something that we saw former CEO Jenny Lawton really emphasize as well, and it’s something that, under Jaglom, will continue to help MakerBot stand out from their competition within the 3D printing space — a space that literally sees new manufacturers pop up on a weekly basis.
MakerBot’s ecosystem doesn’t just include websites like Thingiverse, but it also includes the various web and mobile apps that they have been gradually making available, as well as the idea that not all filament should be extruded from the same type of hotend. The innovative MakerBot Smart Extruder is a product that Jaglom stands behind. While many of the original customers who had purchased the 5th Generation Replicator 3D printers have had some issues with these extruders, Jaglom said that he feels very good about where the Smart Extruder stands today.
Makerbot is also pushing hard to get 3D printers into schools, with over 5,000 schools already having their hardware available. 3DPrint.com recently published an interesting story on the Chinese government putting 3D printers in all 400,000 elementary schools by next year. I asked Jaglom about his thoughts on this, and he seemed very enthusiastic about what he has begun to see with 3D printing in education. He reiterated the fact that MakerBot has been quite successful themselves in getting their machines into schools all around the US. I personally will be interested to see if the US government ever decides to initiate a similar plan for schools here on American soil. If they do, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they chose MakerBot as the distributors of such machines.
I must say that I walked away quite impressed by Jaglom, who had officially taken over the reigns as CEO just 8 day ago. The experience he brings to MakerBot will be invaluable, and I also see him bringing some of the technology used on various Stratasys 3D printers to the company over the long haul. He has worked in many departments including customer support and sales, bringing with him an all-encompassing knowledge that surely his employees will appreciate. Jaglom is fearless when it comes to competition, and actually encourages it. He believes that competition between companies is the best driver of innovation, and his experience overseas should help bring MakerBot to more countries around the world.
What do you think about Jonathan Jaglom. Are you happy to see him as the new leader of MakerBot? Discuss in the Jonathan Jaglom forum thread on 3DPB.com.