Founder and CEO of Maker Media Dale Dougherty didn't single-handedly kickstart the maker space. However, the innovative and entrepreneurial Dougherty truly perpetuated the maker movement through Maker Faire events such as Maker Faire Bay Area and Make Magazine. Before Maker Faire Bay Area 2019, rumors swirled that it could be the final San Francisco Maker Faire. Reportedly, Maker Media was plagued by financial issues. Now, TechCrunch reveals that Maker Media has laid off its 22 member staff and has ceased operations effective immediately.
Maker Media Ceases Operations, Lays Off Entire StaffMake: magazine debuted in 2005, with the first Maker Faire following in 2006. While hundreds of Maker Faire events are held worldwide, Maker Media only sponsored two: NYC Maker Faire and Maker Faire Bay Area. The rest of the over 200 Maker Faires in more than 40 countries were licensed and hosted by local staff.
“Maker Media ceased operations this week and let go of all of its employees — about 22 employees,” Dougherty told TechCrunch. “I started this 15 years ago and it’s always been a struggle as a business to make this work. Print publishing is not a great business for anybody, but it works…barely. Events are hard...there was a drop off in corporate sponsorship.” Whereas sponsors for its San Francisco Maker Faire included the likes of Autodesk and Microsoft, both major tech companies were not among this year's sponsors. Moreover, attendance at Maker Faire Bay Area was down, another contributing factor in Maker Media's struggles.
Still, Dougherty hopes this is a pause, not permadeath for Maker Media. “We’re trying to keep the servers running,” Dougherty explained adding that “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.”
While Maker Faire NYC looks like it won't be happening, licensed Maker Faires around the world should continue as planned. Unsurprisingly considering the maker community and its dedication to supporting members, there's already a GoFundMe "Save maker Faire."
Industry experts such as Oculus VR and ModRetro founder Palmer Luckey expressed their sadness over Maker Media shuttering its doors, as well as support for reviving the beloved company. Hopefully, Maker Media will be back in some form, whether it's in print, online, supporting flagship Maker Faire events, or something completely different. If you love the maker space, and we assume you do if you're reading this article, support your favorite maker websites and publications. Whether that's whitelisting them in your adblocker, paying for a subscription, making a donation, contributing content, or another means of backing, let's help the maker space flourish like it should.