MakerBot CEO Awarded For Being Disruptive

Sometimes I shy away from writing about instances of MakerBot being honored for this or that. There are a lot of those things, and I figure readers of this blog probably understand that our products are cool. On Friday we participated in something that I do want you to know about, though, since you are, by virtue of the act of just reading this blog, part of it.

MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis accepted a Disruptive Innovation Award from the Tribeca Film Festival, specifically for “creating an entire ecosystem for desktop 3D printing.” What is an ecosystem without all the flora and fauna? The people who own our 3D printers, or interact with the world of personal fabrication in other ways – by spending weekends in hackerspaces or uploading design ideas to Thingiverse or commenting on others’ ideas and creations – are the people who breathe life into this ecosystem. So our hat’s off to you.

MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis accepting the Maslow Silver Hammer at the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards April 30, 2012

Now let me tell you about Justin Bieber.

There were 28 other honorees this year, and way too many incredible people and organizations to mention in a blog post. I’ll mention a few that really resonated with us as a company, and (attn: search engines) I’ll also mention Justin Bieber.

MIT’s OpenSourceWare and MITx initiatives received a Maslow Silver Hammer Award for offering up a “portfolio of MIT courses for free to a virtual community of learners around the world.” This was one of the coolest examples of the cycle of decentralizing the power to know and do, which Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen, father of the “Disruptive Innovation” concept, discussed in a concise talk Friday afternoon. Chancellor Eric Grimson said that 120,000 people worldwide have registered for the first course, Circuits and Electronics. Are you one of them?

Legendary jazz guitarist Pat Metheny and guitar designer Linda Manzer were recognized for their “Pikasso Guitar,” a 42-string work of amazing functional beauty that Matheny can actually play. Personalized versions of things? Yes, please.

Pikasso Guitar, by Pat Metheny and Linda Manzer


A team from DARPA and Boston Dynamics and a separate DARPA collaboration with AeroVironment presented their incredible robots: the Cheetah (above) and the Hummingbird, respectively. This was the first public appearance by the Cheetah, and everyone was stunned by the sight of it. The Hummingbird made a bit of a crash landing, but the spectacle of a functioning hummingbird robot was amazing1 . The cool part of their portion of the show was not seeing the robots, but rather that, when asked what the robots were for, they turned the question on the audience: “What would you do with it?” We say the same thing when asked what a MakerBot 3D printer is for. Quite literally, it is what you Make of it.


Lastly I just want to give another well-deserved shout out to our new friend, Thomas Suarez. Most kids, when asked open-endedly to explain what they’ve designed and brought as a gift for an awards show’s host, would hesitate and maybe stumble a little. Thomas took control: “Oh, let’s just demo it.”

Awardee Thomas Suarez presents Tribeca's Craig Hatkoff with a MakerBotted gift

He presented to Tribeca’s Craig Hatkoff this lighted sign, a MakerBotted box he designed in SketchUp that contains colored LEDs attached to the electronics he set up. “What does it say?” someone in the audience yelled.

“Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards.” But of course. Good on ya, Thomas.

Oh I almost forgot! The always charming Justin Bieber was there, as was Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who gave a great short talk about the future of human interactions. All together it was a nice afternoon where we got to introduce a bunch of people to concepts of 3D printing and hear about dozens of incredible innovators from other disciplines.


  1. MakerBot makes no official comment on any particular application of this technology. Except for when used in conjunction with robotic flowers. []