Despite the buzz around 3D Printing, VCs sat on the sidelines through most of 2012. MakerBot’s acquisition by Stratasys (deal value of $403M which could climb to $603 million with performance earnouts) was one of the highlights in 2013 which also saw VCs come around to 3D printing. Funding growth YoY stood at 319% and deals also grew by nearly 88% in the same 12 month period.
An Industry in its Infancy
Despite public companies such as Stratasys being around since the early 90’s, the consumer-facing portion of the industry as a whole is still in its infancy. Only two companies have raised later-stage financing in the past 5 years, while the only company to raise money post Series A in the past two years has been Shapeways, with a $6.2M Series B in June 2012, and a $30M Series-C in April 2013. Early-stage investment funding tallies were driven largely by Matterport’s partial Series A of $2.8M, and Formlabs $19M Series A financing. The 2 rounds cumulatively made up almost 45% of total early-stage funding dollars deployed in the space. The large proportion of early-stage seed and angel deals in the past four quarters highlights the relative nascency of the space.
Like Use-Cases, Geography Widespread For 3D Printing
Much like the early-stage funding breakout, a few major deals drove the bulk of the investment dollars in each region for 3D printing. Silicon Valley led the pack with 22%, with NYC coming in a close second with nearly 17%. A a large percentage concentrated in the “other” category which indicates a number of the deals are happening outside the main US venture hubs.
Makerbot Leads Exits
There were only three exits in the past four quarters in the 3D Printing space. Acquisitions of MakerBot Industries, Arcam, and an IPO by German large-format 3D printer manufacturer, Voxeljet. Despite exits being down 70% year-over-year, the $403M (potentially $604 million) purchase of MakerBot Industries by Stratasys in August 2013 marked the largest M&A deal in recent years. It’s worth noting that many were surprised by the timing of the sale due to MakerBot’s position as the leading consumer brand in the space and the perception among some that the company could grow into a large company on its own.
While traditional venture capital continues to fund companies within the space, 3D printing startups aiming to create affordable 3D printers have found great success on crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter. Whether the capital that these companies receive from the campaigns leads to more venture funding (as was the case with FormLabs and their Form1 printer which raised $2.95M in October 2012 on Kickstarter), or allows the founders to focus on growing a company without dilutive capital remains to be seen. See below for a breakdown of recent 3D printing crowdfunding successes.