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Maker Media Ceases Operations

Terrible news for the maker movement — and for makers in the steampunk community

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Maker Media, the company behind Maker Faire and Make magazine, has ceased operations. The news was reported late Friday by TechCrunch, which confirmed it with founder/CEO Dale Dougherty. All 22 employees of the company were laid off.

Founded 15 years ago, the company became the driving force behind the maker movement, promoting do-it-yourself creativity in robotics, metalwork, 3D printing, and numerous other categories. That movement has played an important role in steampunk culture.

Billed as "The Greatest Show and Tell on Earth," Maker Faire was a showcase for eye-catching DIY projects and enabling technologies such as 3D printers and laser cutters.

The company produced two flagship Maker Faires, one in San Mateo, California, near San Francisco, and one in New York City. The San Francisco event drew more than 100,000 attendees each year. Smaller regional Maker Faires — about 200 — have been produced under license by local organizations in more than 40 countries.

For many years, the San Mateo event featured an area devoted to steampunk projects. I attended my first Maker Faire in 2011, and that’s where I had my first real-world exposure to steampunk. The genre had faded there in the past couple of years, but Maker Faire was still a place to see notable steampunk-related work.

The TechCrunch story attributed the company's troubles to high production costs, a drop-off in corporate sponsors, and the availability of free how-to content online.

Dougherty told TechCrunch that he’d like to revive Maker Media in some form. “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,” he said. That will depend on negotiations with creditors and investors.

Regional Maker Faires

It appears that at least in the short term, Maker Media's closure will not have an impact on the regional Maker Faires, which are produced locally. The organizers of Maker Faire Kansas City (June 22-23) and Honolulu Mini Maker Faire (June 22) have already announced that those events are still on. Other regional events include Maker Faire Detroit (July 27-28), Maker Faire Milwaukee (Sept. 13-15), and Maker Faire Orlando (Nov. 9-10).

See the photo gallery below for highlights from past Bay Area Maker Faires.

This story has been updated with info about the regional Maker Faires.

Related coverage:

The Last Maker Faire? (May 21, 2019)

A Showcase for DIY Creativity (May 13, 2019)

Steampunk “Cools” at Maker Faire (May 28, 2018)

Burners at Maker Faire (May 23, 2018)

Steam-Powered Makers (Feb 27, 2018)

Steampunks Head for Maker Faire (Feb 23, 2018)

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