We made it to December. The end of 2020.
Normally, an End-of-Year post from a company is a corporate victory lap – ”We sold 1 million tennis shoes” or “We opened up franchises in 100 countries.”
But… that doesn’t feel right to me. Especially this year.
2020 has been tough, but we’ve also managed to find a bit of magic.
I’d like to talk about where that magic came from.
(Spoiler: it’s mostly you)
For starters, the Glowforge community was astonishingly creative this year.
Together, we created 13,389,979 magical things. (As of a few minutes ago).
That’s an enormous number. Big numbers like that are kind of hard to really wrap your head around (at least if you’re me), so I’m a fan of maybe-goofy analogies to put things into perspective.
Like this: if you added up all the distance traveled by all the Glowforge laser heads moving around to print you things in 2020, you’d have a trip around the Earth.
That’s a whole world of creativity – literally.
Now that we’ve seen the big picture…
Let’s pay attention to the details.
Here are a few of the projects from the community that lit up our Glowforge company Slack this year.
We’re big fans of the TV show Schitt’s Creek here at the (virtual) office, so you can guess how much we loved this Hospie-winning creation from @paper_ish. We can’t believe the show’s over!
This mesmerizing ceiling lamp by @tim_ung is literally and figuratively a high light of 2020.
And @mikestinyshop taught us an entirely new way to use Glowforge for costuming and prop-making.
Of course, marshmallows were the hit new materials of Fall. @troythemaker showed off his technique for memorable hot chocolate toppers, and we’ve been hooked ever since.
But the thing we’re most proud of? Ear Savers. Seeing the community come together to create millions of them for essential workers was incredible. If you’ve been with us since March, your Glowforge probably looked a lot like @lucas_kd2’s here. When the pandemic struck, you all made a difference.
Because of COVID (and, well, everything else), I discovered something about myself: when I’m stressed out, I don’t stress eat – I stress-scroll through your amazing accomplishments. Twitter, Instagram, and most of all our own community.
Your creations were some of the brightest spots in my year. Thank you for sharing them. They’ve meant the world.
I’m not the only person at Glowforge who obsessively scrolls through Glowforge projects – not by a long shot!
We’re all here – the engineers and physicists and designers and accountants and more – because we love making something that helps you make anything. Seeing your creations is the inspiration for our own work.
I don’t have room to list them all, but here are a few of the big new developments from this year that are our gifts to you:
2X faster processing of all Glowforge prints.
Earlier this year, when we saw how quickly the community was increasing its creative output, we knew we had to rise to the occasion. We migrated all of our customers to faster cloud servers, and rolled it out to everyone. Your Glowforge is faster than ever!
Passthrough for all Glowforge Pro printers.
Furniture. Banners. Headboards. Window frames. Now, it’s easy to print truly enormous things on every Glowforge Pro. My hope is that in 2021, someone will break the print-length record of 50 feet.
The Catalog tripled in size.
The number of designs available for download and ready to print keeps growing, and we’re continuing to add more throughout this month with our Holiday Gift Guide so you can print that perfectly personalized gift for your loved ones.
We transformed our Customer Success team.
Being part of our Customer Success team is a tough job: you have to know your electronics, your optics, and your software inside and out. We decided that we needed it done right, so we decided to do it ourselves. We stopped outsourcing any of our work and tripled the size of our team. Now, any time you reach out for support, it’s a full-time US based Glowforge employee who’s there to help. And even with the enormous growth in team size, it’s hard to keep up for the holidays - we appreciate your kindness and patience while we make sure everyone’s printing is a delight.
Millions of Ear Savers. Glowforge Premium. That time we were on The Price Is Right. The ability to export your design. Precision positioning. Free classes at Brit & Co. And so much more. It’s incredible what we’ve been able to create together.
One last thing:
I think we’re all looking for opportunities to create little moments of joy this year. If you’re like the folks on our Sales team, it means creating an outrageously cute plush Glowforge.
To quote one of our designers in Slack, “OMG OMG SQUEEE.”
The sales team dreamed this up for new Glowforge owners who were buying a printer now that wouldn’t arrive in time to give. Their idea was that since Holiday shipping is unpredictable when the box is as big as a Glowforge, we should send something that would ship faster and be easier to gift-wrap.
(For the record: it is much, much easier to ship a plush Glowforge than a real Glowforge)
But as soon as I saw it - remotely, because I still don’t have one yet! - I knew that some of you would need one as well. So here’s what I did: using my sometimes-mighty CEO powers, I ordered a bunch more so we’d have adorable Glowforge plushies to put in shop.glowforge.com for anyone who’d like to buy one.
This was a first, so we didn’t know how many to order. They may sell out in months or days - I’m not really sure? But they take three months to reorder, so if you’d like one, now’s probably the best time to get one.
Ok, wrapping up
2020 isn’t over just yet, but we’re soooo close.
We’ve all had to find ways to get through the tough times. Some of us have huddled up with our families, some of us have reached out to our communities, and – based on the big dashboard that says “Total Prints In Progress” I get to look at – pretty much all of us have decided to get creative.
We’re finding ways to get through it together. I’m glad that for the people in this community, Glowforge could be a part of it.
When you start a company, you know there are going to be surprises. There will be things you can’t control. There will be terrible days, magical days, and intensely strange days. You just don’t expect them all to happen at once, day after day, for an entire year.
Your year has probably been just as peculiar as ours. When we were figuring out how to safely operate a factory in April, you were probably solving an equally mind-bending problem. Or three. Or thirty.
But we made it. You made it. There’s still a long way to go, though.
I know you’ll stay creative, I know you’ll keep taking care of the people around you. For our part, I promise that Glowforge will keep working so you can bring your ideas into reality. 2020 is almost over, but I know you’re just getting started.
Here’s to an amazing 2021.
PS: You can discuss this update in the community forum here.