Hold on tight to your filament reels and don your Maker goggles. The Wall Street Journal has reported that MakerBot has been in acquisition talks with unnamed suitors, according to their sources. Who could it be? Stratasys could benefit from the acquisition and offer printers similar to their Mojo line for the Indie Maker crowd and Autodesk would like to get their hands dirty on the hardware front without starting from scratch. Despite the commotion, a MakerBot spokesperson has said that the company does not comment on rumors and speculation. You can take off your Maker goggles now—let’s take a look at what’s going on here.
MakerBot on Acquisition Talks: ‘No Comment’
Simply put, the company is expanding rapidly and the extra dinero will come in handy. The last round came in 2011 when it raised $10 million thanks to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Boulder, Colorado-based venture capital firm The Foundry Group. Currently, MakerBot Industries are “gauging (their) options for raising a new round of venture capital at a valuation of $300 million” according to the Wall Street Journal. Tommorow, Bre Pettis and Co will be revealing an all-new Brooklyn-based MakerBot production facility that already has over 100 employees assembling 3D printers (AKA MakerBot ‘Productors’) with plans to hire an additional 50. The state-of-the-art facility boasts 50,000 square feet of production and warehouse space to meet the growing demand for MakerBot desktop 3D printers and soon…scanners.
Even in his MAKE Magazine days, Bre always had an Indie edge to his personality. Even when MakerBot was founded in 2009 by Bre, website developer Zack Smith, and software developer Adam Mayer, there was an indie, bootstrap spirit to the operation that is still very much a part of the MakerBot DNA that we know of today. Currently, Bre is the only one of the three who has stayed with the company and as the largest stockholder (and poster boy) will end up driving whatever acquisition decision is at bay.
While MakerBot would be an attractive acquisition for some of the larger players in the 3D printing/CAD industry like Autodesk, 3D Systems, and Stratasys, it is highly unlikely that Bre would hand over his iconic 3D printing brand this early. With more than 20,000 MakerBot 3D printers sold since 2009 (approximately 14 3D printers/day, 365 days/year), MakerBot generated $10 million in revenue last year alone (with 22% of the 3D printer market share)—with a projected $50 million in sales expected by the end of 2013.
Ultimately, Bre’s indie spirit has helped propel MakerBot Industries to own 22% (and counting) of the 3D printer market share, and despite the rumors, it is highly unlikely that the company is ready to cash out at this point in time.
Be sure to check out our EngineerVsDesigner podcast featuring Bre Pettis where he discusses the history of MakerBot and his perspectives on where the 3D printing movement is going: