Bre Pettis leaving Stratasys.

This doesn’t surprise me. In fact it’s rather predictable.

The fact is that far too many companies are focused on their own bureaucracies rather than growing their business.  They are trapped in Pournelle’s Iron Law.  When that happens a business will keep acquiring smaller companies, hoping to grow their business by acquisition, but when the companies and their former owners try to deal with the bureaucracy they quickly low the spark and drive that made the acquisition valuable in the first place.  That’s because, by and large, large companies don’t really innovate very much.  There may have been a time in the past that they did, but all too frequently now companies seem to be run by people that come from finance rather than engineering or are graduates of some fancy school and have very little, if any experience actually making things or selling things.

In my experience, having been through the circumstances more than once and seen many from the outside once a company makes an acquisition, the acquisition loses 25% of it’s value immediately due to talent loss and by the end of five years or so, no longer makes any positive innovative contribution to the company and has succumb to bureaucratic inertia.  As much as the people in the small company want  to create and innovate their efforts are absorbed in busywork, forced to drive all their ideas through a skeptical bureaucracy and waste their valuable time dealing with “corporate stuff.” In the end people from the acquisition are never able to have the freedom that they had in the smaller company to actually do their jobs.

Look at it this, way, do the people working in the TV show, “The Office” actually seem to do any real work  or are they spending far, far too much time in meetings and such.   This may be comforting to the “A student” types who have moved themselves to the top, but it creates corporate cultures that look inward, rather than outward.  When trying to deal with that, the people like Bre, who are innovaters can’t really deal with that.  They want to continue to grow and no longer can.  Frankly, I think that the Makerbot people should have just taken the money and run.  But that was something they had to learn.

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