Monday, October 13, 2014

My conversation with Ashish Arora and an unexpected apology


Shortly after I mentioned my unopened Cricut Explore (click HERE for that post), I found a new message in my in-box.

"Jin - Greetings. My name is Ashish Arora and I am the CEO of Cricut."

I haven’t touched any of my Cricut machines since I started using my Silhouette; first with the SD in March 2011, and then the Cameo later that same year. I'm still using my Cameo today. I barely even mention the brand on my blog anymore so I couldn't fathom why the Cricut Chief would want to talk to me. I am aware that the company is commonly perceived as sue-happy so I couldn't help but feel suspicious. Curiosity got the better of me and I opened the mail.

I scrutinized the message twice and looked for some kind of reprimand. All I found was a friendly hello. Ashish had read that I have a Cricut Explore and wanted to know what I thought of it. What?! Since when did Cricut care about what their customers think? Certainly not when I was using their cutters!

My Explore is still in the box so I really didn’t have anything to share with him. I did, however, wanted to find out if what I have been hearing about the company is true- have they really stopped their sue-happy ways? Are they finally listening to their customers? This was my opportunity to ask the Man-in-Charge.

I expected to get some canned corporate statement but instead, he was surprisingly forthcoming and genuine. I was taken aback when he did the unexpected- he apologized.

I was once a huge Cricut fan, just like many of you who follow my blog. We cheered every time there is a new product launch and we excitedly waited for HSN to open their phones lines so we can be the first to place our orders. We run to the craft stores when we think there is a new cartridge release. One year, some of us even skipped Thanksgiving dinner so we could stand in line to grab a new colored version of the Cricut Expression from Walmart. When the machines do not work as promised, we were quick to forgive. We tell ourselves that it had to be "user error" even when we knew that it wasn't our fault. Perhaps it is because we loved the brand so much that it hurt so deeply when they took one of us to court and stopped us from pursuing our creative freedom. They took away our ability to use SVGs with their machines so that we are trapped with their cartridges. It has been almost 4 years since the PC-MTC lawsuit and our bitterness still lingers.

I never thought that the day would come when I would see an apology from Cricut. While they cannot undo what has been done, it meant a lot to know that their Chief acknowledged that they were wrong. Those of us who had loved Cricut so much then had felt so betrayed.

We deserve this apology.

This is why I decided to share with you my conversation with Ashish. You will find below the unedited version of his response to my questions. In case anyone is wondering, I have Ashish's permission to do this.

I was not compensated for writing this article. I did not receive any free machines or accessories. I am not affiliated with Cricut.


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What can you tell me about yourself?

Ashish: I LOVE products, consumers and teams :) I have built hardware products, software products, mobile apps, cloud connected experiences and more – in other words, I have been around for a while :) I worked at Logitech for 10 years and launched computer peripherals, Gaming, Universal Remote Controls and a variety of products in their Digital Home business unit. I have been doing products, software and data for approx 20 years. While I have a CEO title, I am passionate about building great products and experiences, user interfaces and teams. I believe that the best products become invisible – they are hypnotic. They help users get to their end goals – however, if the user ever happens to glance at the product, they should be just "breathtaking". I was not a crafter but I have always loved creating. When I was initially introduced to the product and the company, I was overwhelmed with the level of passion and joy that Cricut had provided in the world of crafting. I was also saddened by the fact that we had lost some hearts – I fell in love with the prospects of the category and for reigniting an amazing brand. My teams and I have been hard at work since Feb 2012.

Ashish Arora

You have been referring to your company as the “New Cricut” and that it is a “new company”. Considering that Cricut has a fractured history with crafters, please clarify how you are “new”.

Ashish: Brands and Products are just a reflection of the team and their values – they just happen to manifest themselves 18-24 months after these values are formed.  The "new" Cricut starts with the team and the values - the products come later. I joined in Feb 2012. My first goal was to rebuild the team, the brand and the values. We first rebuilt the executive team from the ground up. I realized quickly that we had an amazing team (broader organization) at Cricut – we just needed to get out of their way and create an environment and focus that allowed our teams to do what they had joined Cricut for in the first place. We did have to beef up some areas like R&D and Innovation, Quality and a few others. And then we collectively as a team defined our "values". This is really important as values is what defines brands and allows our teams to deliver great products.

Let me focus on a couple of these. One of our values is "We strive for excellence. We love what we do". Our products will reflect that excellence that we strive for as an organization. Our second value is "We build amazing products that delight our consumers".  When I joined, I sat in customer service and listened to phone calls. I have an innate passion for consumers and that sent a clear message to the organization and I was immediately joined by my entire team in that passion. One of the biggest areas we are transforming is our customer care. We are inspired by Zappos and our care team will truly take care of folks that call us. The single biggest goal we have in the entire company is a question we ask and measure ourselves on "Will you recommend us to your friends and family?". When we are scoring well on that, we know we have gained our consumer's trust. Our score on that question for the Cricut Explore after surveying thousands of people is approximately the same as the iPAD. While we have a long ways to go, we feel that we are making progress and are doing something right.

Lastly, we are very research and insights driven. In creating Cricut Explore and Design Space,  we went into hundreds of people's homes, observed them and understood their deepest needs and what they look for in products and things they interact with. We used those learnings to zero in on the "essence" of what we do and "why" we do it. This may sound fluffy but it is really what brings my team and I together and gives deep meaning to what we do. It is about enabling "her" (our consumer) to empower her, to celebrate the creative person in her and to help her feel this sense of "I made it" both in terms of a physical creation but also have a feeling of self accomplishment. I often tell my team "Go for the heart" that is the business we are in, we just happen to make cutting machines. And that is what the "new" Cricut is all about.

I have tried Cricut Design Space, the software for the Cricut Explore cutting machine. While simplicity is great on your web client, there are a lot of limitations. What are your short, medium, and long-term plans for better software support for your cutting machines?

Ashish: Cricut Explore and Design Space had 3 design goals. To provide our consumers with "functional tools" that empower her. To design products that were just "beautiful" in design and to make the experience "enjoyable" - it is after all a hobby.

Most of us have worked on cutting edge software and have created cloud connected products. We are passionate about simplicity and ease of use. In fact, we are maniacal about simplicity. However, we are not afraid of providing functionality that is needed to create great designs. We just want to manage and present those tools that were incredibly powerful in a simple manner. The "Print then Cut" functionality is a good example of that. Our web functionality is really meant to enable access from anywhere. We philosophically believe that people should be able to design from anywhere and if "she" has a moment of inspiration, it should never slip away. So she should be able to access Cricut Design Space from the hotel lobby or from her home computer or her laptop, her office or her friend's macintosh.

Even with a web client, we have a lot of native code that runs on the user's computer. Over time, we plan to evolve the architecture in a way that gives you the best of both worlds. I.e. The seamless access from any computer using the web and also a level of performance that will allow users to do complex designs. You will see significant improvements in performance in the next release and next several releases.

I do however want to say that we are not competing with Adobe Illustrator and don't want to build an Adobe Illustrator.

Lastly, we have allocated a significantly higher percentage of our resources in hardware, software, quality and program management. Our engineering team has more than quadrupled in the last 2 years. When we were building Design Space, we have architected it as a platform that allows us to build upon. We could have released Design Space a year ago but took our time to make sure it was a scalable platform. We have done several releases since we launched in January and have consistently under promised and over delivered. Our goal is to keep doing this in the medium and long term.

How can individuals contribute ideas that may help improve your software? There is a huge community of enthusiasts who constantly push the envelope in their crafting but feel that your Legal Team has stifled innovation. These enthusiasts deserve great software and need an outlet that is non-threatening; do you have plans to provide this?

Ashish: We have been doing extensive surveys since we launched. In fact, every Explore owner does a survey as part of a 30 day journey – we have received tens of thousands of responses. Our product management team goes through this feedback (a lot of this is on the software side) in a methodical manner as we are planning future releases. Our product management, software, IT teams and hardware teams are active members of some of the largest Cricut centric FB groups where we are getting this feedback.

Many of us who work at Cricut come from an open source thinking. I personally was involved in several businesses including Google TV, Gaming, Logitech Harmony (Home Entertainment), Streaming music and we collaborated with experts and enthusiasts in each of these spaces to help push the envelope. In launching Print then Cut, we worked with a team of enthusiasts and power users (approx 15 of them) over 4 or 5 months. They constantly advise me and my team in coming up with new ideas or areas we need to improve. They have access to me, our product management and quality teams  and it has been an incredible partnership. I don't want to speak on their behalf but they will tell you how much we listen to them and keep them involved. However, they also understand that we cannot always agree or prioritize their asks in the immediate term but we do listen super carefully. They have visibility to what is coming next and they are our partners in innovating for our end users. In summary, we love collaborating and harnessing amazing ideas and we know most of those ideas have to come from the enthusiasts and our user groups.

It is great to see SVG support finally coming to Cricut. However, the implementation seems to be poorly thought out. Can you comment as to whether you will fully embrace SVGs and support it as you do the images in your store and from the linked Cricut cartridges, or does SVG support threaten your business model?

Ashish: We really believe in creative freedom and we think that most innovation happens when you truly embrace "open innovation". The name "Explore" was chosen because we wanted to communicate the "freedom to create". You will see more and more of this from us in an unprecedented fashion – I will leave it at that. While we initially required a subscription to upload SVGs at launch, we reacted to user feedback within 24-48 hours and made the upload of SVGs completely free. We do not require even a software upgrade for a user to get this functionality. We spent a fair amount of time to figure out how to make this upload process easy for end users. We realize that we do not yet have the capability to allow SVG files to be imported at their native sizes, this feature is in our backlogs but has been secondary to higher priority features like Print then Cut and other features. This will happen sometime next year. Again, we will add new features and spend more time in designing the user interaction. I realize that we have not implemented folders as well to allow people to manage their files. Again, it has been a matter of priority.

We are innovators and we fully understand that we either cannibalize ourselves or someone else will. We have experienced this first hand in the last couple of years :) We have lot of innovations in the pipeline that will allow us to create other revenue streams so we are not worried about SVG sport threatening our business model. In fact, the more people create, the better we are. And we love people creating whether they use our designs or their own. I will say that we do not endorse or support copyright infringement. Whether it is partners, licensors or smaller independent artists who have provided art (through our cartridges or even on the web), we feel that they should be paid when someone uses their art. We leave it to our users' individual good judgment.

What is your policy on 3rd party software? Some of these programs, like Make-the-Cut and their Pop-Up Studio, allow the crafter to innovate in their designs and creations. How do you plan to embrace this previously rejected community?

Ashish: We strongly believe in collaborating and partnerships. Our Design Space Platform will demonstrate how many of our partners will create revenue streams. I have no historical biases positive or negative towards Make the Cut or Sure Cuts a Lot. We believe in great design and are laser focused on the things that our users will greatly benefit from. We announced a partnership with Autodesk earlier this year which reflects our desire to partner with great brands. In addition, we have tons of smaller partners and content designers who are working with us. We will try and find software partnerships that compliment us in the best way, fit our brand and ultimately provide amazing experiences to our end consumer. With our SVG support, people can use various software and upload those designs in Design Space. We are also building our software in a way that will allow us to publish APIs but all of that takes time to document and support. Again, it is just a matter of focus and priority for us.

Cricut pioneered this industry. Like you, many amazing enthusiasts started with us. The first Cricut was born out of listening to you, our consumers, engaging in conversations and delivering what our users needed. Somewhere along the way, we stopped listening, we lost some hearts and trust. Like human beings, brands make mistakes and I deeply regret that we did – our apologies to many of our end users - we let you down. We fell short on our commitment of "listening" and "excellence". 

The "new Cricut" was born from that realization.  We went back to our roots and probed for our values. Today, we are defined by our values around excellence, simplicity, partnerships, and conversations. We feel that all of those are matters of the "heart" and we as a company are focused on winning hearts - we just happen to do cutting machines.

We could have started apologizing 2 years ago or even when we launched the Cricut Explore – but we wanted to prove ourselves with the launch of Cricut Explore and Design Space. With the launch of Cricut Explore and Design Space, we are now looking forward. We have a lot of work ahead of us. We are excited about the crafts and DIY industry and believe that the industry will see more innovation in in the next couple of years than in the last 5 –6 years. And everyone will win but most importantly "she" (our creative users) will win.

best
ashish






55 comments :

  1. I think they are a little too late. I personally was a total cricut fan and had all their stuff, but after seeing the Cameo perform and do all the stuff that I wanted the cricut to do, I sold everything. That happened over a year ago and I do miss the ability to cut thicker things but find that I can just cut my images several times out of SIL chipboard. I then glue them together and have a great chipboard piece. I love being able to have access to the paper lines that I love digitally (Echo Park, BoBunny, etc) via my Cameo to import the papers into other images or cut more of the embellishments that come with the paper line. I also love not being stuck to the internet as some retreats I go to do not have internet access (yes the do exist). I also love being able to take items off my mat but still be able to see them. Yes, the Explore is quieter and cuts are better on some small things but it's not enough for me to go back to Cricut. JMO.

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  2. Amazing difference a new CEO can make. And as a past Cricut advocate, I'll be looking for this CEO to deliver. There is still quite a bit of work to be done to win back customers and grow advocates in the crafting community. I'll certainly be checking Cricut out at CHA and interested to see if they are showing signs of acting upon their CEO's "dreams" for this business.

    SewCalGal
    www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com

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  3. I'm sorry but this angers me. He tried to explain away the fact that you can only use the explore with an Internet connection as "we want you to be able to use it wherever and whenever you want". WHAT?? Then allow us to!! There is NO ZIP NADA reason why we shouldn't be able to use CARTRIDGES with our machine directly with no Internet connection. At almost every crop I've been to there's been no option for internet. And there's no REASON for this limitation other than they're still up to their old tricks. And there's too many (great) options in the market and nobody has time for that!

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  4. As most of us, (hobby crafters) I started with my Cricut expression about 5 years ago. I invested in 150+ cartridges, my jukebox, then design studio software, then my gypsy. I was sad knowing that Design Studio software was not useful with the time, that PC did not have any intention of keeping it up to day. My breakdown was when I was not able to sync my cartridges from my gypsy to CCR (now you can do it). That was it for me, I had it with PC. I started to look for an alternative machine that wouldn’t cost me a fortune (as the Cricut did with all the devices and cartridges I was not able to use as I wanted). My research guided me to the Cameo. I was very happy to know that with the Cameo I was able to do SVGs as well as any image from internet, so, I bought it. I have been overall happy with the results I get from my Cameo (disclaimer: this “joy” does not include the V3 updated… I’m not happy with it)
    Do I want to go back to spend more money on cartridges (images) from PC?… honestly I do not. Do I want to have the ability to cut more precise and intricate images, yes, definitely.
    Jin, thanks for sharing your “conversation” with Mr. Arora. I’m pleases me to know that Provo Craft is making changes on their customer service (as any company should do if they want to keep in business). As of right now I’m not thinking on getting the Cricut explore, or any other item from PC… I need to see more actions from PC, not only words.
    Hugs, crafty friend. Your follower,
    Gina Lindsey,
    Sacramento, CA.

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  5. I think alot of us left with silhouette came out with the cameo. I did buy the explore, I waited months to use it. I'm using it on and off now. If I am in a hurry I still use the Cameo. It drives me CRAZY when I try and pull up design studio and it won't work. I have kids so when I have the time to craft, I want to be able to craft. I hate that you have to have internet to use it. I hate the software is very blah. I hope there will be positive changes but having been with cricut for years, I'm use to hearing, we promise. I'm looking forward to some promising changes.

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  6. I believe Mr. Arora is genuine and wants to mend fences – after all they don’t just WANT their customers back, they NEED them back. My problem with ProvoCraft wasn’t so much the lawsuit (everyone has the right to try and protect what they believe is their own property), it’s the CONTROL they want to exert over their customers. They didn’t want anyone sharing cartridges or using anyone’s products but what they themselves sold.

    This (imo) has not only NOT changed, but has become worse. With the Explore (and presumably all future machines), you cannot download the software, you cannot download images you purchase, you cannot even SAVE your own work to your own computer. Other companies sell images in a proprietary format, but you can save them and use them at will. With Design Space, you MUST work on-line, so you can only design and cut when you have internet access and all the stars align with you internet provider, your computer set up and web traffic to the website. Anyone who does not have a stellar experience is told by other users that the fault lies with them and NOT Cricut. And worse (imo), you cannot directly cut from cartridges anymore. In order to use one, you MUST link it to your Design Space account, which can be done ONLY once per cartridge and effectively kills any resale value. They have finally figured out a way to stop people from sharing or selling cartridges.

    But what I find most shameful is the way Imagine owners were treated. When print-then-cut was released, Imagine owners were told that they would have on-line access to all the imagine cartridges, free of charge. Making it seem (imo) that THIS was the apology and contrition that owners had been waiting for. Although many saw it that way, I suspect it was done to prevent endless lines of Imagine owners from calling in, trying to link cartridges that they could not do any other way. After all, it wouldn’t cost the company ANYTHING, just a key stroke on their part and I suspect that many Imagine owners already own most if not all of the cartridges already. And the truly GENIUS part is that this ‘gift’ was useless unless Imagines owners purchased yet ANOTHER machine. Not only did it look good for them, but it brought back old customers and increased revenue, all without admitting fault. If they truly wanted to make up for the Imagine debacle, Mr. Arora would have give Imagine owners a significant discount on an Explore so they could enjoy his ‘gift’.

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  7. Thank you for this interview. I was an Imagine user and felt left out because mine did not work and now I am stuck with a huge paperweight. The same with my Cricut Cake. Being a Cricut fan, I was hurt when instead of supporting our machines they chose to remove them. The Imagine had such wonderful prospects but fell short. I love my Cameo now and can create with freedom. Thank you for sharing this candid interview.

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  8. I'm in the market for new electronic die cutter, but this doesn't convince me in the least to go with Cricut (again). I can't afford a $250 paperweight when internet access is out.
    Kate

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  9. I have no doubt this gentlemen is true to his words. But for me- I still have a bitter taste in my mouth about the whole ordeal. I haven't touched mine in years and until I buy a Silhouette or Sizzix- I won't be doing any cutting with an electric cutter. It's the oldstyle QK and a Bigshot for me. For YEARS they promised big things and didn't deliver and put out overpriced cartridges.. I used to be a big fan. But I have no loyalty to them anymore. I feel dirty just using the CuttleBug folders. I still won't buy Cricut or ProvoCraft products. It's not even about the whole MTC debacle. It's the fact that Cricut never gave us what they said they could. Because they were so tightfisted with their money- they didn't want to let go of the cartridge profit and embrace the evolution of digital cutting. Someone beat them to the concept of MTC and SCAL and wasn't charging $200 bucks for it. No thank you Cricut... I'm good without you. Too little too late. I'm seriously thinking of going "Office Space" on my Cricut. If I'm lucky I might get $2 for the cartridges.

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    1. I should video my "Office Space" moment *when* I do. :D

      Sign me- seriously bitter FORMER Cricut fan. (emphasis on FORMER)

      p.s.s. I love your blog Jin- you're amazing! :D

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    2. Don't go all "Office Space" on it! There are STILL some die-hard Cricut fans out there that will buy your products - if for nothing else, the parts to fix what PC won't touch any longer! ;)

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  10. You want to make amends? Backtrack on your poor decisions that your legal counsel made years ago.

    You aren't "new", the only thing that is "new" is the CEO. Going on the 2014 ProvoCraft Apology Tour doesn't make your company "new".

    You guys were tanking, hard... So what you guys did was point a finger at the old CEO and say "It's him! He's destroying us!" And fired him. When what you should have been doing is pointing your finger at your legal counsel and fired them.

    While you guys dropped the ball and started suing everyone and their sister, Silhouette, KNK, Blackcat and the rest grabbed the ball and ran. Now we get to listen to empty promises, like the old ProvoCraft. This Tour is more of the same.

    You guys would be NUMBER ONE right now with NO competition, what so ever, if your legal counsel would have worked with SCAL instead of suing them in to oblivion. Number ONE! That’s a tough pill to swallow, eh? Now you guys have to deal with boycott pages riddled across the internet with a massive amount of bitter customers.

    We get it Ashish... You are coming off of a tough run at Logitech. You may have received the short end of the stick as Product Manager. Maybe you were Logitech's scapegoat. Who knows... But, what you are NOW is ProvoCraft's scapegoat. And when the walls come crashing down in Utah, you will be the one to blame. Not your legal counsel, not your product manager, not the old CEO… just you.

    And finally:
    Talk is CHEAP. This "interview" is CHEAP. Make things HAPPEN. Let me break out my old cricut collecting dust in the closet and use it with SCAL or MTC, maybe then I will begin to trust you again and support your new software or machines.

    Until then, Good luck being yet another scapegoat for another shady company. Your resume will appreciate it, I'm sure.

    Yours Truly,
    Former Cricut affectionado, current Silhouette User.

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    1. The only good thing that came out of this- is all the underdogs and several I didn't know existed- surfaced and finally let crafters know... there IS life after Cricut!

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  11. I, like so many of you still own numerous cricut machines. I have not sold them (considering it) but decided against the Explore. The simplicity of the program was not enough for me. Since I purchased the cameo 2 years ago, my world has opened up and can do so much more. Although it takes quite a few more steps to do PNC, I don't do that many projects. It cuts fabulously and see no reason to purchase the Explore. The thought of it cloud based really turned me off. If there was a problem with the cloud or I lose internet connection, I cannot craft? Totally unacceptable for me. I am happy to hear that the new CEO is trying to gain its customer base back (despite its downfall 2+ years ago) but it has left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

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  12. I appreciate this story. I can see by the comments that some are not ready to forget and I can't blame
    them. I did have a problem with my design studio, called them and it was answered right away and walked me thru the problem. They also emailed me instructions immediately. This is a change from the past. I'm not a computer savy person to make my own designs. I have MTC and love it. Lets hope this new corporate venue is genuine and able to make amends

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  13. I was a loyal Cricut customer - even giving the Imagine more than it's fair share of chances (that's a horror story in an of itself!), when I started hearing others talking about their Silhouette Cameos. It was one of the reasons I came across Jin's wonderful blog in the first place - I was researching the machine, and the various software options to use with it - and Jin's comparisons and reviews were extremely helpful in allowing me to make the decision to sell all of my Cricut machines and cartridges and use that money to buy my Cameo, the Designer Edition software, a large format printer, and a small t-shirt press (along with various types of vinyl). I have never regretted that decision, and I can't imagine (no pun intended!) anything that Cricut produces would ever be able to entice me to "cross back over." While I am glad that they finally realized the huge mistakes they have made, I feel they are still way behind the eight ball, and have burned too many bridges with their (former) enormous customer base to ever return the company to it's former glory. Like others have stated - it's all too little, too late. :(

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  14. Thank you for posting this. His words are appreciated. I bought the CC Cake and the Gypsy and they are just sitting collecting dust. I'm saving up for a Cameo instead.

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  15. I have owned all the Cricuts except for the Cake. The Imagine was the biggest waste of money that I have ever had the misfortune of spending. It was so limited, and the images so juvenile. I could go on and on about that mess. A friend wore me down, and I purchased a Silhouette Cameo. By far the best investment I have made. I will probably never go back to Cricut.

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  16. I was a loyal Cricut cutomer and I still am. Many of my friends purchased other die cutting machines after the failure of the Imagine. I remained with Provo Craft because of the heavy investment I had made purchasing over 200 cartridges and I am glad I did. I reviewed many videos regarding other machines but the simplicity of the Cricut Expression and Expression 2 allowed me to make the decision to invest in a machine with a different company. I am not computer savvy. I don't want to spend hours and hours learning new software. When I purchased the Explore, I was terrified that it would be a failure like the Imagine. I am amazed at the simplicity of the software and have designed and cut many materials with the Explore. I am so glad I remained loyal to Provo Craft. Customer service is amazing. I called the other day with a question and an answering service answered and took my name and number and said someone would call me back soon. Thirty minutes later I received a phone call and my question was answered. Mr. Aurora and the team at Provo Craft are doing an excellent job. For those of you who feel like it is a "little too late", you are really losing out. I cannot wait to play with my Explore everyday. It has been so much fun.

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  17. There are bitter people, but lately, I have been seeing quite a few comments in my Cricut group about people who tried to learn to work with the Cameo, but never managed and are very happy to have an excellent cutter that makes life easy for them so they can enjoy crafting instead of fighting with a computer. The Explore cuts beautifully, can cut much thicker materials and the Print then Cut is dead-on accurate. I have a Silhouette group too. Yes, there are 25,000 members, but a day doesn't go buy when there aren't people complaining about the problems they are having. My Cricut group had 600 members when the Explore was launched. It now has over 6,000 members. In closing, just wait till you see the wonderful innovations the new Cameo brings you. On Wednesday, everybody will be allowed to post the details of what they were told in the Webinar telling retailers about the "new" Cameo. I don't intend this as one against the other, but you will see for yourself just how well Silhouette listened to what their customers want. BTW, Silhouette doesn't let you save your designs in any format other than what can be read by Silhouette Studio. They also have to protect what is legally theirs. You cannot fault a company for doing that, but I just want to point out that Silhouette does this as well. If you use 3rd party software with either system, you save save files in a universal format.

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  18. I too think this is too little too late, I own the original, I had 2 Expressions I have since sold one, I had 2 copies of DS, they are now no longer of any use, I had 2 gypsies, both dead, I also own over 160 cartridges, I am still waiting to hear what the extra buttons on the expression are for, also now that my gypsies have died and are no use I want my cartridges unlinked so I can sell the ones I no longer use, actually I haven't used any of them for over 12 months I love my cameo. But I do believe that if the product is no longer supported then the conditions I agreed to to use the product no longer exist. When my cartridges are unlinked I may rethink how I feel about PC, at the moment I don't think much of them at all

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  19. This "apology" is only words and means absolutely nothing to me until it is backed up with concrete action. Given their rather abysmal track record on long term product support - it is going to take more than words to convince me to return to any product among their offerings. I am sure he is a nice man - and probably means well. But unless or until they take some steps to atone for some of the major failures in their history - useless cartridges linked to useless Gypsies - Imagines that were nothing but a fire hazard - promises of "future" features that have gone unkept for years - then I will be staying far far away. I think too many of us drank the kool-aid in the beginning - and to quote Pete Townshend "won't get fooled again".

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  20. Was anyone a Cricut Demo Girl? I was hired to, what I and many people believed to be demoing the Cricut Expression at Michael's and Joann's. They (Cricut) flew us to Chicago to train us on how to demo what we believed to be the expression. All of us were so excited. We attended a two or three day training class...and everything was going great....until they sat us down and told us that we would be demoing the Cricut CAKE?!? All of us were stunned (some angry) that we were mislead into thinking we would be demoing our love of scrapbooking/cardmaking/crafting with the Expression...only to find out it was a cake decorating machine?! Most of us didn't even bake or had never decorated a cake before. The people who were leading the classes, didn't even know how to work the machine, most had never operated a regular cricut before. It was a disaster. At the end of that training session the Cricut people gave a teaser that the next BIG thing they were coming up with would be a "game changer" that was the Imagine. ( How crazy expensive was that when it first came out. Yikes!) In short, on opening day at Michael's, I couldn't get my machine to cut, the "fondant" that Cricut made was absolutely disgusting...you had to "oil" your mat with Crisco..I still have nightmares about it quite honestly. What was worse is that people who were starting to turn on ProvoCraft took it out on me. i'm not really sure how long the program lasted...not very long I'm sure. I just remember thinking how much money was being spent during that training weekend and how it could have been an amazing product launch. I gave Cricut another chance...and I actually did like my E2. i liked the touch screen...I just didn't like the design choices anymore. I thought they were a little juvenile for my needs. So I made the switch to Cameo and I love it. I love how beautifully it cuts. tiny tiny letters cut out beautifully with no snags or wonkiness. I did cave and bought an imagine on Thanksgiving night at Wal-Mart for like $147.00. I'm not crazy about the print and cut feature of it...however i did actually like the printing full 12x12 pattern papers. I will admit I HAVE been tempted with the Explore, but I'm not ready to take the plunge back into the Provo Craft world. I am excited for the Cameo 2 and I'm so ready to get rid of the Sillouette V3 update which is horrible.

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  21. I didn't even know craft machines existed until about a year ago. I started doing my research on machines and that's when I heard Cricut was coming out with the Cricut Explore. I knew immediately this was the machine for me. I waited for the launch but missed out on the first of the machines on the market and had to try to patiently wait until March when I would be able to get my hands on one. I have NEVER looked back!! I am thrilled to pieces!! I have a strong internet connection and I save my photos to the cloud already so that was never an issue. How wonderful to be able to design on a big computer screen!! The cuts are intricate and amazing (check out Ken Hess's youtube videos comparing machines). I was following your blog until I read your statement, "I will never have another God Damn Cricut product in my house". There is no excuse for that kind of language in print or in word. I feel sorry for all of you whiners and you will see that crafting is going to progress whether you want it to or not.

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    1. Kathleen, I agree. There is no room for such language on my blog. Can you please point out where you saw this?

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    2. You mentioned that you did not know about craft machines until a year ago. I am happy that you found a machine that works for you but if you had done your research thoroughly, I am certain that you will not be calling your fellow crafters "whiners". Like you, we were once Cricut Super Fans but the company let us down when they sold machines that didn't work right and sued anyone who offered to expand the use of their cutters, particularly the 3rd party software developers. Folks do not just give up on their favorite craft company for no reason at all.

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    3. Kathleen:

      Obviously you haven't been sued or been threatened to be sued by ProvoCraft... yet.

      We aren't whining about their machine, we are whining about the hoards of people ProvoCraft bullied and beat up when they were king of the hill.

      Now they aren't the king anymore and here they come with the apologies and false promises.

      Before opening your mouth, why not do some research first before defending a fascist corporation. You end up looking like a tool, otherwise.

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    4. I seriously doubt that you found Jin using the kind of language you reference in your post. I don't always see eye to eye with her - but her posts are always carefully thought out, informative, and never ever profane. I am glad you are so happy with your Cricut - I once drank the Cricut Kool-aid myself. Like others who have commented here - I am not a whiner - but one who has learned from bitter experience that some combination of marketing hype and unsupported products is not a happy combination. It does sound like they are making strides with the Explore - although I have to say that there doesn't seem to be much there that I have not been doing for quite awhile with my non-Cricut machine. I'm afraid I really don't see it as cutting edge technology. True to Cricut form - I am sure it is being well-marketed, however.

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    5. I've never read anything like that on Jin's blog. Never. I'm sure you must have mixed up another blog with hers.

      What isn't honest, and is just a wee bit immature is to call those who do not care for the Provo Craft products, names. Provo Craft left a very bad taste in my mouth and I choose to vote with my dollars. I certainly DO hope that crafting will progress, it should. But my money will simply be spent at other companies (who are also progressing). Ashish Arora has a long, hard climb ahead of him. He is starting where other cutters have already been, and he has a tremendous amount of distrust to overcome. I wish him the very best, he is going to need all the help he can get.

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  22. if you read on the fb group cricut lovers guide to design space you will see that you will be able to design offline soon. i love the new cricut and Ashish and the team are amazing. i sold my cameo once i got my explore, now i have 2. this is the machine of the future.

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    1. "...you will be able to design offline soon..."

      lol... i bet they promised that too, right?

      How many times have they promised a feature and never delivered? Don't hold your breath.

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    2. And how many features has the new regime promised and delivered? Quite a few. Bluetooth. iPad. Print then cut.
      The new guys are establishing a good track record.

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  23. I owned several Cricut machines and used them all of the time, first with SCAL and then with MTC. SCAL was the reason I bought my first Cricut (can't even remember what it was called now) and then 2 Expressions. I ALSO purchased more than 100 Cricut cartridges. When I learned that the owners of SCAL had been sued, I vowed to never purchase another product from the company and promptly sold all but one of my cartridges and my original machine, which sits collecting dust as I use my Silhouette in the ways I find best. I own over one hundred cuttlebug embossing folders as well as other ProvoCraft products and still use them on occasion, but have purchased nothing from the company since the first suit and never will again, regardless of how many apologies a desperate CEO wants to make. What solidified my stance was the treatment of the woman who "invented" the Cricut Cake machine. Although it may have been overzealous lawyers who initiated the suits and "backstabbing," lawyers can only do what is approved of by those in charge of the company. Greed and inhumanity runs deep in ProvoCraft and I will never forget - or forgive. I won't commentI under any method that requires my password for fear of being hacked, but am proud to sign my name. Dorothy Terry

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    1. Oh, I forgot about the Cake lady! She should chime in here? Unless ProvoCraft has her voice under lock and key?

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    2. I felt so badly for the Cake lady when I read her story. She and her lawyer both made the mistake of trusting ProvoCraft and their slick corporate lawyers. They screwed her over royally, just as they did to many faithful customers. I would like to hear what this new CEO would say to her, but I'm sure they have long forgotten her. Anyone reading this who doesn't know about the Cake lady should Google her and read what they did to her before they jump head first into spending their hard-earned money on ProvoCraft products. She is a regular person, just like the rest of us.

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    3. Definitely google the cake lady and read the whole story! Like how HER attorney advised her not to accept PC's offer for compensation but still advised her to talk to PC about how she used the Expression for cake decorating. HER greedy attorney is the one that screwed her over with poor legal advice.

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    4. But on the plus side the Cricut cake was a huge failure, trust me I had one.She had to of gotten a little bit of pleasure out of the failure and it didnt tarnish her name in the process.

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  24. Just received our Explore this evening. I had high hopes, but so far I'm not impressed. It cuts fine, but the usability is poor. The HSN bundle comes with some "exclusive" content. A couple of Anna Griffin cartridges, and some Make It Now projects.

    There's no way to filter the Make It Now projects to see what the special content is. I guess you just click through the hundreds of projects hoping to guess which are the right ones. And there's no way to list purchased carts/sets. You can scroll through all your image sets, but that includes subscribed and purchased sets - and since the Explore comes with two weeks' subscription there are hundreds of carts to scroll through.

    I also already experienced losing a project due to the spinning wheel of death. Performance of the web based software is pretty bad.

    There is potential. But it's not fully baked. It's 1.0 software that I hope is not terminally flawed.

    I don't hold Ashish and the new management responsible for the poor behavior of the past regime. The new Cricut has delivered on a few promises. They promised PnC, they delivered. They promised Bluetooth, they delivered. They promised iPad, they delivered.

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    1. FWIW, Ashish personally responded to my and several other people's complaints about losing projects in a Cricut Facebook group. He directed QA to contact me and several others, and they did this morning.

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  25. I started with a Cricut machine, but after the terrible customer service I rec'd and the lawsuit, I sold the machine and cartridges and bought a Silhouette. I have such bad feelings about the Cricut brand, that I will never buy their products not matter what their machines can do.

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  26. I started out with the cricut when they first came out.. PC offerered a terrible product and worse customer service. They lost my customer devotion and I moved on to a better quality cutter No regrets or disappointments here.
    I wouldn't buy a PC cutter even if it also made coffee,washed the dishes and folded my laundry.

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    1. What if it also SHOPPED for the coffee? I admit, I would have to rethink my position if I could also use the explore as a maid. Cheap at the price and I wouldn't have to provide benefits!

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  27. It would be easy to just duplicate what so many have already said here so I will just quote and print what Deloris said ' I started with a Cricut machine, but after the terrible customer service I rec'd and the lawsuit, I sold the machine and cartridges and bought a Silhouette. I have such bad feelings about the Cricut brand, that I will never buy their products no matter what their machines can do."

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  28. Jin,

    WOW! Thank you for sharing this with us. You asked some really great questions! And from all of the responses here, I guess what's been said a million times is true: everyone will have to decide what machine they want to use based on what they want to do and what they are willing to trade off. As I'm a Make-the-Cut and a Silhouette user, I don't mind having to use a computer. However, I will never want to be totally dependent on having an internet connection. Since that is a requirement of the Explore, it's safe to say that I will probably never own one. I have a Baby Cricut and the original Expression (pink) which both still work just fine. I can do everything I need to do with what I have.

    Anyways.....thanks, again, for sharing this with us. You're the best! :)

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    1. I have 3 previous Cricut cutters that all work today as good as the day I bought them. What origanlly drove me to Silhouette was their awsome library of images and the fact that I could buy them one at a time. YES no more of those horrible cartridges. At one point those things were close to $100.00. I would buy them to only use 3 images and they were usually pretty terrible but it was all that was out there. I was so very happy with all of the choices I had at Silhouette. Then I saw the advertisement that said I could cut leather with the Explore...So I bought it. It has been a little over two years since I touched anything Cricut. If you buy this you better have the ability to create your own designs or you will be stuck with the same crappy choices they have always had. Please PC if you read these blogs we want NON juvenile images Please hear us. Please hire some new people and lets get our Cricuts out of the kindergarden classroom and do some real stuff with it.

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  29. Jin,
    Are you ready to do another of your unbiased reviews of the latest PC contribution to the die cutter war? I would be interested in what you have to say about the Explore based on it's merits alone.

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  30. Jin, Thank you for sharing this interview with us.
    Personally I have never had a cricut, but my daughter has a Cake. I have a Zing, a Cameo, and an E-craft. I am the one who sorts out my daughters Cake for her, so I do have some appreciation of what PC have provided in the past.
    The designs PC have produced in the past have been very good, or the ones on the Cake carts have been, however I do feel that they are very limited, and you cant create on your own with the cake.
    But when I bought my daughter the Cake I bought it for a reason, that being it was food safe. And apparently reasonably easy to use..............2 yrs later, my daughter needs a new cutting machine, one thats food safe, one that can cope with PNC on Rice paper and Icing sheets, one that can cope with A3 sized sheets. My self I am a papercrafter, and require a more robust, and design capable machine, as well as a work horse. For myself I would never have bought a Cricut, I am sorry, too limited, too regimented, too expensive.
    Now I have wasted over £500 on a cricut cake machine and cartridges that we cant use, and the machine we are looking at is in the region of £850, with no designs included.
    With a view to PC: Why is it that every one assumes that everyone has decent internet coverage and bandwidth? I do admittedly but I know a lot of people who really struggle with their internet being so far away from the local switchboard, yes I am UK based. Not being able to access my machine, because it was peak time, and data throttling occurs over here, and the internet was insufficient to access the cloud servers would drive me potty. There seems to be a big push from all technologies to force us to cloud based platforms for everything, when a large proportion of the population have insufficient cloud access, and either cant get or cant afford more.
    For me, the new PC machine being cloud based is a no-no, despite its capabilities. Having said that the cloud based design program on the brother SNC was a deciding factor too. I do NOT want to be open to a cloud platform whilst designing, or even getting a machine to cut. My life does not revolve around the internet. It may revolve around my computer, accessing all my craft Cds, and designing cut files, and then cutting them, but it doesnt revolve around the internet, and isnt reliant on the internet. I use ONE design software, and cut to 3 different machines, not a different one for each machine. Each machine has its strengths and weakness, which is why I have 3, but in all honesty, I am looking a a slightly more powerful machine which I should have bought in the first place, as its bigger, but that one machine will do all the different jobs the current 3 do in one go.
    I think that it may be too late for PC to recover in the current climate. A new CEO basing the business around a cloud based platform..................... whilst NOT dealing with the fall out from the previous CEO? There is a saying on this side of the pond, its always easier to get NEW customers, than get back those you have already lost. PC lost a huge customer base in the Kerfuffle, I dont think too many people will be willing to risk being burnt by PC again, no matter how good the machine is. I appreciate that he seems open, but for me its too little too late from PC, they would have to make major changes to the way they operate for me to even consider a PC machine, I would want them to incorporate a 3rd party software like MTC off the cloud, before I would even think about owning a PC machine.

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  31. It seems so obvious to me that the purpose of this kum-ba-ya talk is an attempt to win back those of us who are so done with Cricut. d.o.n.e. done.

    I have an explore on my shelf, 35 or so cartridges, all the stuff to go with it and never use it. ever. (trying to figure out how much it is worth on the open market and how to sell it). They wanted to be exclusive, they got it. I am excluding them!

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  32. I have always been Cricut fan. Big time. I have two Expressions and a Gypsy (that still works well by the way) but I really long to be able to cut my own images. A friend of mine owns a Silhouette and she was able to take some clip art and convert it to a SVG with the Silhouette software by tracing it (not sure how that works).

    When I heard about the Explore coming out, I was so excited that it was going to be able to cut SVG files, but it seems like even that has limitations. I LOVE my Cricut products but I wish I had the freedom to cut ANYTHING I want, just like Silhouette owners. Not sure if I should take the plunge and purchase the Explore or just go ahead and buy the new Silhouette Cameo 2. What makes my decision even harder is that I have close to 300 carts. It's been a huge investment. I'll keep reading and researching before making a decision.

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    1. I too was on the fence. I waited patiently for the Cameo 2 and was so disappointed when it finally was released. Different rollers, I never have had a problem with mine but somebody must have for it to get a redesign, a thing on the back to cut with, touchscreen which it is my opinion is a really good place for problems to crop up,If the screen fails then what. Physical buttons are much less likely to develop problems down the road and if they do they are usually repairable, and blade storage that's it. I was so sad so after much reading I made the plunge got the Explore and cant say I am thrilled. I really like the machine and the software is simple enough for someone like me who doesnt really want to learn new software but that's it for me. The Silhouette library of images is miles and miles ahead. If you are one of those people excited about the possibility of designing your own images or enjoy going in inkscape and changing files you might really like it. For me I probably will send it back as I like to pay a $1 and start cutting. Also one problem that I didnt foresee is the total dependency on the internet to function.Unless you have steller internet dont do it. I thought mine was good enough to use the Explore and mostly it is I have however had two different days when for whatever reason my connection was slow and I couldnt use it. It is also definately not Mac friendly customer service has alot of work arounds like downloading Chrome or Firefox but in my opinion this should not be necessary. Food for thought. HATE their image library cant stress this enough.

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  33. I am on the fence. I am willing to try and forgive only because I didnt have the misfortune of owning the Imagine. I returned the Gypsey when I found I would be unable to sell my cartridges so I dodged that bullet. I have owned my Cameo for 2 yrs and for the most part it has been a smooth journey. It is persnickety. Your mat has to be perfect there are no physical guides just marks. Until recently my biggest complaint was the inability to get supplies without ordering them. Ordering is a pain for me because 1- I am impatient. I tend to wait too long before I order leaving me in a pinch. 2- my dog and the ups man DONT play nice but that is a different story. I bought the Explore but I only really like the machine itself. I dont want to make svg files, I dont want to chase svg files that i saw on pinterest. I just want to pay a $1 and cut my stuff. Here is the problem their image library SUCKS it suck beyond all suckidisim (not a word Im sure but you get the point). No matter what the machine can do if there's nothing you want to cut then whats the point. The machine itself is better than my Cameo. It is better thought out, it does cut better but I have to spend time hunting things to cut and that's frustrating. I have so often wondered who Provo Crafts target audience is when they are in the design stages of images. It had to of been pre-k and k teachers or stay at home moms with small children. So I am left with a really good machine, some distrust of the co, and promises of better images in the future. What to do.. fool me once, or have a little faith that they will come through and realize that a large majority of the people dont want to use a cartoon alligator that looks like it was taken straight off of a flash card A is for Alligator.

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  34. Its good that he was nice enough to contact you and answer your questions. Its definitely a step in the right direction. However, you can add my name to the list of former PC supporters. I own all their flops - Imagine, Gypsy, Cake, Mini and over 200 carts. Thankfully I have a baby bug and Expression that I can still use with MTC in addition to a Wishblade, eCraft, Cameo and Portrait. It takes alot to walk away from that 'investment', but I have to stay true to what freedom to create really means. The online only is a joke. The motto should be 'From inspiration to frustration in one click or internet outage...'. MTC is a far more powerful program that allows you to create truly on the go. I can create in the car, on the bus, on a train or plane, use a variety of formats, save my images to my computer and not be tied down. I can also create without having to use a particular browser to make things work. That is true creative freedom. The Gypsy was close, but their decision to kill it really set them back IMO. I'll sit back a wait for them to offer an offline die cutter again and watch the masses lose their mind. They backed down when you originally had to pay for SVG use (bet that stung the pocket a bit), so its only a matter of time before they back down again to grow the customer base. If you get to talk to him again, please tell him to stop paying bloggers. Its obvious that they are PC puppets, so they should really stop trying to bad-mouth Cameo (the various 'Why I left Silhouette Cameo for Cricut Explore posts) and actually focus on designing better projects to help promote PC's ailing image library.

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  35. I cannot speak to how sincere this man is, he is after all a business man and it is his job to make the company profitable. I found his answers to be that of someone who is trying to regain trust. For me his sincerity doesn't matter because the only way I would ever use a Cricut product again would be if they came out with something extremely innovative and that I could not get elsewhere. I mean really, really cutting edge. I honestly do not see that happening in the near or not so near future so I don't see me buying from PC again. I guess from that standpoint I found the interview unexciting. It's far too late for just an apology.

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  36. Why do so many hold a grudge for so long? Do you think companies are entities unto themselves? Companies are made of people, individuals. Yes Provocraft made mistakes, the people responsible for those mistakes are no longer employed, with Provocraft. Cricut really is a new company, and a small company, there is almost no one there that was with the company prior to 2012. I understand why someone would boycott a company or refuse to do business with an entity they mistrust, but after the people responsible for the reasons for the boycott or mistrust are no longer there, what is the reason to continue the boycott? There are a lot of very smart and talented individuals working at Cricut, they are all good people, and every single one of them wants to build a great product that their customers love using.

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