Makerbot company is founded in 2009 by Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer and Zach Smith to engineer and produce 3D printers.
Their printers builds on the early progress of the RepRap Project and they owns Thingiverse (http://www.thingiverse.com/) one of most popular site for sharing 3D printed designs.
Zach Smith was one of the founding members of the RepRap Research Foundation, a non-profit group created to help advance early research in the area of open-source 3D printers.
So Makerbot started as Open Source Hardware company (like many of the other 3D printer producers).
Being one of the most popular 3D printer producing company in 2013 they were bought by Stratasys Incorporated and they turned on 180 degrees, by closing their Makerbot Replicator 2. This pissed off a lot of the open source community, as Makerbot took all improvements community was sharing on thingiverse, compiled it into their one package and closed it. You can read this blog post for more info on this subject: http://josefprusa.cz/open-hardware-meaning/
First Makerbot was selling their printers as kits, thus their major customer base was makers/thinkerers with skills to build the printer, later they started to offer the printer assembled (and lot more expensive) to expand their customer base with people who have no skills to build. This way they got totally disconnected to the community which actually built the company – the small amateurs with no so deep pockets. Who will pay $2000 for assembled printer when you can buy kits for $500 and build one?
By going closed source and forgetting their roots this situation was predictable. So it was no surprise when they recently announced that they will layoff 20% of their employees.