The news that littleBits — a Maker startup which sells “mashup” hardware electronics kits for children of all ages — got a $3.65M investment from True Ventures and others was terrific. And well-deserved. Ayah Beir is a visionary CEO in the mold of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, although, to be fair, the canvas seems smaller.
And that’s the problem. It’s terrific for a Maker startup to get funded, and to get interest from the likes of us VCs.
But I keep coming back to an analogy. 1977 or so. The Homebrew Computer Clubs are all over. Hackers are hacking hardware and software. Scoffers are scoffing that it’s just a hobby.
Two things happened: The Steves built the Apple II, and Dan Bricklin built VisiCalc.
The original “killer app”. Suddenly the $2000 price tag of an Apple II didn’t seem so egregious. Suddenly the work of getting an Apple II to work didn’t seem so onerous. It had a purpose.
I love littleBits, and I love kids and the hacking imagination. I don’t think it’s the purpose of Making.
I don’t think 3-d printers are the purpose of Making either. They’re very cool, and they are a kind of vivid logo for the movement. But they are not what will make Making indispensable, that will make the costs not seem egregious, what will make the set-up not seem onerous.
What will? Don’t know. Looking for it.