After six years of working at the coolest company in 3D printing, I bid goodbye to Formlabs last week.
Formlabs was a group of just over 20 kids in a room when I joined. The Form 1 had become a legendary Kickstarter success story, but the company was wrangling with how to turn it into a workhorse product and build a business. There was a slick pitch: make stereolithography (SLA) printing as accessible, reliable, and easy as 2D printing; the future was a printer on the desktop of every designer.
The 3D-printing hype cycle had reached its apogee: a film crew was putting the finishing touches on a feature-length documentary pitching Formlabs as the upstart working to unseat rival MakerBot1; MakerBot meanwhile sold themselves for $604M. The 3D printing section at the annual CES tradeshow was crawling with press and celebrities (an inexplicable range of personalities from Martha Stewart to will.i.am) looking to align themselves with the next great trend.
And much happened after that. We hired a lot of people, becoming a global company of over 500. Brilliant people, too–some of the best I’ve worked with. We raised a bunch of money. We hit a billion-dollar valuation, at least by the funny math of the venture capital world, which is an impressive achievement for a hardware company. We shipped a Form 1, a Form 1+, a Form 2, and a Form 3 printer–putting more SLA printers into the world than any of our competitors–with more great things on the way. And I had the privilege to help build an amazing electrical engineering team along the way, stocked with deep competence and a healthy, vibrant culture–an accomplishment I’m incredibly proud of.
It’s hard to say goodbye, but the urge to build something new can be irresistible. I’ll always be a Formling at heart. Keep on printing!
- I’m in it, but you’ll have to watch closely or you’ll miss me. ↩