I really feel like you let us down in a big way


#1

I noticed today that the already depressingly delayed schedule is now delayed by another 6 months until December? How can that be possible?

I find this shocking and upsetting beyond measure. I have gone from a position of utmost respect and fandom to one of anger and questioning your ethics.

I know you keep saying that you want to make sure we get the quality machines we deserve (that’s a given), and no one would expect you to ship units before they are ready.

This is not a matter of not shipping until units are ready, but how your company has (mis)spent all the time and money we gave you in good faith.

You took a lot of money from a lot of people (both your initial investors and the crowd funded pre-orders) and spent it unwisely. Or rather, greedily held onto too much of it, thus failing to invest properly in the resources and people needed to develop the product you promised on schedule.

I was concerned at first when I saw how slowly you were spooling up and bringing on new staff, and how sparse (and guarded) any progress updates were. The only way you could have met your ambitious deadline (based on not even having fully functional hardware and software prototypes when this all started) would have been to throw a lot of money and people at it. Based on where we are now, it is painfully clear that you have done neither. A big enough team could have completed this, but that would have cost money out of your own pocket, and that of your non-preorder investors. That concern is only highlighted by Dan’s statement in the 4/20/2016 Q&A video where he stated “There is a lot more hiring, and a lot more to do” which I take to be a crystal clear admission of guilt.

If you have “a lot more hiring” to do and you are so late in the game that you are delaying a further 6 months then there is no question about what the cause of this delay is.

In the same Q&A video Dan stated that you are valiantly making a “7 digit cost” sacrifice to make up for the delay. But that is likely the very same money that had you invested at the start of this debacle would have led to on-time delivery.

The phrase “too little too late” was invented just for situations like this.

Lets say that even after the first round of delays I got my laser (the professional model) in June. And lets say that I barely used it professionally (only on weekends) and so I only made $100 a week from it. This new 6 month delay means $2,400 more out of my pocket. And that is a ludicrously conservative estimate. You may as well have just mugged me. The real financial reality is so much more painful that I don’t even want to do the math, because then I’ll feel like I made an even bigger mistake trusting Glowforge.

You know what you’ve done is profoundly wrong, and you know it could have all been avoided had you hired on time and invested in the product early rather than attempting to maximize profit and letting things go off the rails. There’s a reason you chose to disable comments on your latest Q&A video… you know exactly what people will have to say.

What I want to know is what are you doing about it? Just sitting back and saying “we’ll have them by December” is not enough. Investing now what you should have at the start is not enough. You are well past the point where “I’m sorry” carries any weight.

Since it seems greed put you in this situation, maybe charity will help save some face.

Even now, with all this anger, I still feel bad writing to you in such a negative tone. I was once your fan and supporter before you made me your fool. Part of me still wants to be a cheerleader for you and fight in your corner, but that part is all but dead.

I shrugged off delays and lack of progress updates when questioned/hassled by my makerspace and tech scene friends who did not believe you would deliver on time (or in some cases at all). I told them I trusted you and believed you could do it. That trust is gone. I wish I could say I still believed in Glowforge… but that would just be another lie.

/Chris


#2

While I don’t agree with your post in its entirety, it is thought out and definitely plausible. My response to more resources earlier in the project is while that path may have helped, it is also equally plausible they are in a situation analogous to, “nine women cannot make a baby in one month.”


#3

Sorry you feel that way…Good thing is, you can still get your refund. :wink:
Honestly, for all those who have not been on the forums lately, I can understand your frustration. If you just peer in once and awhile, its hard to get a feeling about whats going…But as it has been said numberous times…this is not unusual for crowdfunding projects like this. You can choose to stick with it or get out now and get a refund if the trust is gone…simple choice…


#4

Hmmm never heard THAT one before…great analogy😀


#5

Nope. Don’t agree at all with this one. There have been zero job announcements that related to the official problem, the power supply. It was a third party development. I can’t speak to whether they needed more S/W developers in certain areas but more people does not equate to more progress in H/W development. Recently finished a $40M simulator development with 15 people, including S/W. Couldn’t have used more people effectively and more money wouldn’t have got it done faster.

edit: It’s OK to be angry. I just disagree with your assumptions.


#6

Chris, I went back to read all your posts from the enthusiastic beginning and really appreciate that you are speaking this from a very professional and experienced background. Your post is very articulate and gets to some of the very human reactions and motivations that make up this situation. Whatever anyone says, this is a significant issue given the size of the preorders and the amount of money plonked down. I am most disappointed that the power of the publicity made me think that development was a lot further along. I ignored most indications of that by just thinking we’d get a great product. My intermittent reward system kicked in big time and I was not going to admit I bet poorly. I still am not. I have never put down so much money on an unproven product before. I’m bewildered at why I did, other than so many of the tech folks I admire and follow seemed on board. I still believe I have done well with my money in getting a product that I will use well for 1/2 off. But having no business plans, I have a totally different calculus. I believe that justice or fairness requires some type of clearer indication of development milestones. I wonder what made Glowforge think they could make shipment by the end of June just a few months ago and what exactly made such a radical revision now. At this time I am not angry at all. I’m sad for everyone. I’m just going to keep participating as much as I can until I either get a Glowforge or make a decision to cancel because my interests and financial needs just can’t wait.


#7

The power supply is what things have been blamed on. What will be next? The optics alignment is not satisfactory?
Its so easy to dismiss things as “stop being pessimistic! The GF team is awesome! They poop Rainbows!”

While i am cautiously optimistic, nothing GF has said gives me ANY confidence in the date of December. Show me a schedule…tell me the still open technical/program risks. GIve people enough to make a decision on their own that doesn’t involve a big leap of faith.


#8

Actually, there is a lot of social science research that suggests that more people on a job does not lead to a better final product (or a faster completion time). Somehow, managers need to weigh the difficulty of job against the skill of workers (including their personalities and interactions) to find the sweet spot of not too many but not too few workers. Even one person too many for a job can impact progress in a negative way (negative defined as being lesser product or late product).

I just don’t think that adding more people would have necessarily changed this GF situation. Regarding this variable @rpegg, it makes sense to me when you state, "Couldn’t have used more people effectively and more money wouldn’t have got it done faster."

Is Your Team Too Big? Too Small? What’s the Right Number?


#9

Willing to bet the people who think they could have done things better, faster and more smooth have never built or designed a thing. It is easy to get upset when you don’t really have a frame of reference to base expectations on. I’m sure that spending a million more dollars would have made a bad power supply awesome, everyone knows that if you spend money like water then everything works out in the end. I bet when they made the decision to hire the company that does work for nasa they done it because of the low cost and inefficiencies that come with a great background. They should have hired the Duracell company they have a great background in power, even seen a commercial where a astronaut used one of the batteries in space. Never mind that it is a different animal all together, battery versus taking 115v from an outlet dropping it to different voltages for different components in the machine, changing it to dc for other components. Having to regulate the voltage for tolerances of chips, diodes, capacitors, rectifiers, regulators, etc… And then switching it off and on again to match a serious of 1 and 0 being fed to it from the cloud that matches a picture you uploaded to it from who knows how many miles away and using the on and off to power stepper motors and laser tube along with belts and camera alignment just to cut out some design on a material in your home.

Now that I think about it you are right, that is simple and should have been done by now! Bunch of cheapskates just took something soooooo simple and screwed it up.


#10

In my opinion, the power supply and hardware should all have been tested and working before the crowdfunding initiative took place. Who knows why they made this decision, but I think that is where the major fault lies in all of this. We were shown a working product in the sales pitch when it wasn’t.

We all bought in on an idea that sounds amazing and we’re all still hoping they will pull it off. I still believe in what they are trying to do, but damn, it would have been so much nicer for them to have done that before telling us it was ready to buy.


#11

I will almost guarantee you that the camera system, custom tubes, power supplies, and cooling systems had not been fully tested and integrated at the beginning of crowd funding. The difference is, I didn’t expect them to be for this type of project.


#12

I’m only looking at the engineering aspect. I’ll be glad to give you a list of 20 things that could still go wrong. My guess will be as good as the company’s guess. Some will, some won’t. They may or may not have a good plan. You ain’t gonna see it. The decision is yours to make. It’s as simple as that. I like my odds for a successful product but those are only based on my personal experiences. Posting your anger and expecting everyone to agree is not good for your health.


#13

No one said it was ready to buy…yes, the promo for it was awesome and could have been mistaken for a ready made project…


#14

I agree that throwing more people at a problem is not a cure-all, but the point is that this late in the game (2 months out from when they only recently promised they would have the last unit shipped) they are still talking about needing to hire more people and pushing things out 6 months. That means their plan was way off for a long time. A delay of a month or two would be one thing, but 6 months is significant, especially after other delays.

I’m also upset because I do a lot of rent-paying work with lasers, and currently pay for time on a few machines. Had this unit been delivered on time (technically late) in June I would be able to complete client work for a big project I have due in September from my own shop during nights. This change means I may actually have to tell that client (whom I’ve worked with for years) that I can’t deliver for them, which breaks my heart, costs me money, and lets my client down. Working from remote shops on rented machines means only working on weekends as traffic in LA can add an hours to round trip times. Having a laser in my own shop means the potential of several hours of productive work time 5 nights a week, and 2 full days on weekends. That’s why I chose to invest in a home laser, and Glowforge looked like a great alternative to finicky inexpensive Chinese lasers (roughly same price point) that are common in smaller shops, and at the time it was not over a year away.

And again, I really do get that throwing more money and people at something is not always a viable solution, but based on what I’ve seen from Glowforge, they made a lot of plans (like “First units shipping in December 2015”) that they were not able to live up to, and it seems like they are way under staffed for what they are trying to achieve. Sometimes more people working on different aspects of a project does make a difference, and that’s coming from decades of hardware and software experience, including for fortune 500 companies. (for those who think this is coming from a position of blind ignorance rather than anger and frustration) For example, with more money in your pocket you can tell a problematic parts vendor that they are fired and source a power supply elsewhere. Or hire project managers that produce reasonably accurate timelines so you know what you’re getting into and don’t make promises you can’t keep.

And I get and respect the urge to rush to the defense of Glowforge, I’ve been in that very position, which is why I’m all the more upset by how things have played out. Difficulties are expected, problems happen, you can’t plan for everything, but you can be honest, and you can provide some level of transparency, especially when people have put their faith in you. And on any project you have to plan wiggle room for things to go wrong, but we’re a bit past wiggle room.

Dan has repeatedly said that progress updates are few and far between because all hands are on deck working on the laser, but that’s another great example of where hiring someone who’s entire job is to provide those updates is an inexpensive solution considering the scale of investment. I think the progress updates have been few and far between because there have been quietly battling serious issues and delays that they don’t want to make public, which explains why we are 2 months out from an already delayed “last unit delivered by” date and extending things by 6 full months.


#15

You might not have, but they presented it to be complete to the public, which is why so many people bought in, and have been disappointed.

They already had funding, so really it was just a calculated risk, one which they won by means of the funding record they set, but lost in a way by all the set backs. We all kind of lost in that regard.

I understand where they are coming from and am still excited to get my glowforge. Ive worked on any number of products that have had the same release issues. Ive been in computer hardware and software my whole life. Ive been through my fair share of kickstarters. Its unfortunately a part of consumer culture these days that we are sold incomplete things and hope they live up to the hype.

I obviously have faith that they will to the tune of the cost of a pro model. It still looks awesome! Just hate the wait…


#16

It’s sad, this dead horse had been beaten to hamburger. Yet I keep coming back for fear of missing something.
That and I’ve read every post on this forum so far and hate to break that streak.


#17

I don’t understand these posts. They all start from the perspective of lost profits being the source of their anger, when they knowingly invested in a new product in an otherwise established market.

If you’ve got a business running, or planned out to the point that you feel you can mention lost revenue as a factor, why did you risk a glowforge? Why not buy an established laser cutter, albeit at a higher initial cost, and just make the money? And for the life of me the only answer I can come up with is you’re utterly full of it.

You’re making up some imaginary business scenario in your head to justify feeling disappointed, and propping it up as factual. Glowforge didn’t invent laser cutters, and it’s not the best you can buy, so what are you talking about? Why haven’t you cancelled, capitalized the expense of the other unit, and moved on?

I get the disappointment, we all do, but the ridiculous dramatization is just so uncalled for.


#18

That’s probably the only thing that I thought was disingenuous. The ready to buy feel of the project. All of the information was readily available that indicated otherwise but you needed to look for it. I knew immediately but also knew at the time I placed my order that it was going to be an issue later. You can decide for yourself whether is was a conscious effort to deceive or whether it was the marketing that just went too far. It’s not my right to judge without being in the room.


#19

Thank you for posting my thoughts exactly…:grin:


#20

Looking at their website at the time lead a lot of people to believe that it was. Even Norm from tested who was all up in glowforges business thought they would be ready. That is how it was presented to me. That is how they HAD to present it to get the pre-sales that they did. 3 months from purchase is about a normal gear up time from manufacturing that has already begun to shipping.

If you foresaw these delays you are wiser than me. Ive been on the forums since I purchased in october and never saw anyone saying “theres no way that it will be finished by then”. We all took them at their word.

Im not trying to talk down about them, this is the way they were more than likely pushed to do business. First to market, get the sales, hope everything runs smoothly. Thats all you can do when you havent fully tested your product, but dont want to lose market share to competitors who are on the prowl.

I dont have any ill will towards anyone involved, I really like Dan and his crew, and its unfortunate theyve had to deal with this setback. I still bought it, Im still excited about it, I would volunteer to help work on it if I could. It looks amazing. People are just disappointed they dont get to play with it yet.