The Company Behind Maker Faire and Make: Magazine Has Shut Down

Illustration for article titled The Company Behind Maker Faire and Make: Magazine Has Shut Down

TechCrunch has learned that Maker Media, the company behind the DIY magazine and online publication Make:, as well as the Maker Faire science, art, and hacking festivals that happen all around the world each year, ceased operations last week and let go of the rest of its 22 employees.

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The company’s founder and CEO, Dale Dougherty, confirmed to TechCrunch that since its inception 15 years ago, the business has been a struggle, as it has been four countless print publications over the past few decades. Layoffs first hit the company back in 2016, followed by eight more staffers being laid off in March, which the SF Chronicle reported ahead of the 2019 Maker Faire; the company’s flagship event held in the Bay Area each year. Despite rain, the event met its ticket sales, but it’s doubtful it will return to the Bay Area or New York in 2020. Those are the two Maker Faires that Maker Media officially organizes, but according to Dougherty, other regional Maker Faires, which simply license the name and branding, will still proceed for 2019. According to TechCrunch, Maker Faire has “200 owned and licensed events per year in over 40 countries.”

Instead of officially declaring bankruptcy, Maker Media has opted for something known as an assignment for benefit of creditors which is a similar proceeding—assets are liquidated to pay creditors—but the courts aren’t involved so it usually happens much quicker. It’s not necessarily the end of Maker Media, however, as Dougherty told TechCrunch that he’s hoping that by scaling back the company, he can keep the Make: publication in print, and the Maker Faire licensing program running so those popular events will continue into 2020.

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Maker Media did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment. 

That will require the company to find new sources of funding, and while venture capital firms might no longer be interested, longtime fans of the magazine and festivals have already started GoFundMe campaigns, and even Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey has expressed interest in doing what he can to help save Maker Media. More details on the future of the company will be revealed in the coming weeks and months, but for the time being the website for Make: will remain online.

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DISCUSSION

knowonelse
knowonelse

As a founding member of a makerspace, The Curious Forge (https://thecuriousforge.org/) in Nevada City, CA (our 7th year now) I am more than a bit biased. I attended the San Mateo Maker Faire a couple of times and it was huge, really huge, too much unless you were there for multiple days. The mini-maker fair at Sierra College in Rocklin is much more user friendly and can be seen in total in one day. A great event even if I spent the entire 7 hours piloting the Shamancycle around the parking lot (https://www.shamancycle.com/) with loads of people each time.
Yesterday I was at the Truckee Roundhouse for their Maker Show (https://www.truckeeroundhouse.org/). Again, a great small show, showcasing what people can create with a little training and access to tools and expertise.

There are many more makerspaces in the world now than when Make: started, so perhaps they are the victim of the success of creating makerspaces. Putting on an event is time and resource consuming for both the host and the surrounding area.

At The Curious Forge we have a monthly Open House where we offer a couple of activities that guests can participate in. Last week (first Thursday) we had a dozen people in the ceramic studio and five doing copper fold forming with me. The three 10 year olds had a great time banging metal, heating, and quenching their creations. The next day I ran across them and parents at Bubbas Bagels and the parent revealed to me that the kids enjoyed it more than video games!

Still, losing Make: would be a loss and I hope that the local fairs continue to show the world what making can do for yourself, others, and potentially start a business.