For 15 years, MAKE: has been central to the maker movement, guiding adults and children alike through step-by-step do-it-yourself craft and science projects. The Maker Faires have been operating since 2006, with about 200 owned and licensed events a year in over 40 countries.
“Maker Media Inc ceased operations this week and let go of all of its employees — about 22 employees” CEO Dale 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.” Both Microsoft and Autodesk failed to sponsor this year’s flagship Bay Area Maker Faire, adding to the distressing situation.
Dougherty is still trying to figure out some way to keep things going in some capacity. Keeping MAKE:’s online archive running is a major goal, as well as sustaining the print magazine and continuing to allowing third-party organizers to license the Maker Faire name to throw affiliated events. Maker Media is working through an alternative Assignment for Benefit of Creditors process instead of moving toward bankruptcy, hoping to be able to salvage at least some of the company’s operations.
The plight of Maker Media has attracted the attention of Palmer Luckey, co-founder of Oculus,[Update 6/9/19: Dougherty tells me he’s been overwhelmed by the support shown by the Maker community. For now, licensed Maker Faire events around the world will proceed as planned. Dougherty also says he’s aware of Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey’s interest in funding the company, and AI developer MATRIX Labs, from Miami Beach, Florida, has also launched a GoFundMe campaign to “Save Maker Faire.” Of the $100,000 goal set by MATRIX, 18 contributors have so far raised a bit over $1,400 for the cause.
Despite the financial troubles, Maker Media’s products are still in enthusiastic demand. Despite rain, Maker Faire’s big Bay Area event last week met its ticket sales target. The decline of the company has been due in part to high production costs in expensive cities and a proliferation of free DIY project content online.
Maker Media has helped inspire a generation of makers, inventors and artists, and empowered a generation of budding engineers, and has had a profound impact on fan prop fabricators, costumers and other creators around the world. No matter what happens now, that legacy remains intact.