Here’s a look at new MakerBot CEO Jonathan Jaglom’s first 90 days

The former Israeli army lieutenant is working to regain the trust of the 3D-printing company's customers and his employees, who have seen no less than four leaders in just under two years.

Jonathan Jaglom, Makerbot CEO.

(Courtesy photo)

Jonathan Jaglom flew all the way from Hong Kong to New York City in the fall of 2013, his 10-person team in tow, with a proposition for then-MakerBot CEO Jenny Lawton: let’s get MakerBot’s 3D printers to Asia. Let’s build up an infrastructure to sell MakerBot’s products across the continent.
This was shortly after 3D-printing company Stratasys acquired MakerBot. Jaglom was the general manager for Stratasys’ Asia operations at the time.
Jaglom said he remembers begging Lawton to do so.

When asked what it was like to lead a team that’s seen so many leaders over the last 18 months, he said it was challenging.

In the moment, it didn’t work. (Jaglom chalks it up to MakerBot working to satisfy an earnout agreement, post-acquisition. “Earnouts have their pros and cons,” he said.) But less than a year later, MakerBot did enter the Chinese market.
Now that Jaglom, 39, is in the driver’s seat at MakerBot — he was appointed CEO in March and left Hong Kong for New York City in April, he’s staying true to his instincts about the importance of the Asian market. One of his first decisions in his new role was to place MakerBot’s Asia operations under Stratasys to capitalize on Stratasys’ established presence in Asia and to motivate Stratasys to sell MakerBot products by making those sales a performance metric.
Jaglom didn’t agree with Lawton’s strategy of running MakerBot’s China operations from its headquarters in Brooklyn.
“That’s not going to work,” he said in an interview with Technical.ly last week, later adding: “You have to have local teams.”
That’s just one of the changes Jaglom made when he was installed this spring.

  • He authorized a round of major layoffs, which he later called “painful but necessary.” MakerBot employs 450 in Brooklyn and about 15 in Europe and 15 in Asia, he said.
  • He’s in the midst of a six-week “listening tour,” visiting customers, partners and schools in 22 states. It’s an effort to re-establish MakerBot’s presence, Jaglom said, and “to make [MakerBot’s] voice be heard.”
  • He created a “creative council,” made up of roughly 50 staffers across the company, who will help define the company’s values. This, he said, is especially important given the leadership turbulence over the last 18 months, when MakerBot had three different CEOs before Jaglom was hired (founder Bre Pettis, Lawton and interim CEO Frank Alfano). “There’s been a lot of disarray with many leaders,” Jaglom said. One of the things he’s heard from the creative council is a desire for more transparency from company leadership.

For Jaglom’s part, it’s his first time living in the U.S., though he has family in New York. He’s living on the Upper West Side because that’s where his wife wants to live (“I’m trying to explain to her that the Upper West Side isn’t New York,” he said).
Jaglom, whose parents are Israeli, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Israel when he was 18. He spent four years in the Israeli army, where he eventually became a lieutenant with the Israeli paratroopers. It was an experience that he said allowed him to mature very fast. It also put things in perspective for him. Once you’ve walked into a village expecting to be ambushed, you’re not so stressed about things like exams. You can handle it.
That’s the attitude he adopted when joining MakerBot. When asked what it was like to lead a team that’s seen so many leaders over the last 18 months, he said it was challenging.
“But we look for challenges, right?” he said. “We look for that next mountain to climb.”

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