End of the Maker Faire??
A toast to 'Makey Bot'
Word came down last weekend, that Maker Media, Inc. founder and CEO Dale Dougherty had laid off all of his employees and is in the process of closing out the company. Created about 15 years ago, the company had the rather successful Make: Magazine (about 125k subscribers) and the Maker Faires around the world.
If it isn't evident from previous postings on here, I have officially drunk the Maker Kool-aid. I am glad and excited to call myself part of that community. As did many others. We heard whispers of something to this effect at the last Maker Faire, but no one wanted to believe it. How could this be the 'last one' if we were seeing such a huge turn our and engagement from the public. If the demand was there, and the supply was there, how could it be that the venue, the catalyst, the provider might have to step away?!??!
Well, it turns out, that it comes down to money and profit.
"But corporate sponsorship of the magazine and the flagship events has lagged over the last several years ... While some of the maker events receive government or foundation funding, the Maker Media fairs have never received that type of support, he said. And private investors, accustomed to huge payouts, have steadily lost interest in a business that breaks even, but only barely. " ( https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/06/08/san-mateos-maker-faire-make-magazine-calls-it-quits/ )
I have been mulling over my personal thoughts about all of this over the week. Watching as the Maker community in general reacts to the news. When I first read it, admittedly I was heartbroken. The idea of 'losing' this community, losing the venue that we gather in, losing the thing that brings the thousands of creative people together, was like losing someone close. Then..... then I started thinking about all of the things that make the Maker community great. If anyone can 'make' something out of 'failure' it is the Maker Community. I don't see this whole incident as failure. But there is a motto some of us have of 'make, fail, make, fail, make'. Failure is a good thing, it leads to trying or building something different. :)
So yah, my hopes are high that we as a community are going to make something of this and find a new path. Perhaps it will be chasing the non-profit approach and the Make: Magazine and the Maker Faires will be reinvented. The heartbreak has now transformed into a hopeful excitement for how this will transform. Makers don't stand by and give up. They aren't passive in changing things for the better. ... They are Makers... they make the world around them better.