MakerBot chief Bre Pettis made a very big announcement yesterday: They're taking in the staggering amount of USD$10M in a special investment round! The sixteen listed investors, led by Foundry Group, obviously have huge confidence in MakerBot's future.
MakerBot has come a very long way from their modest start in early 2009, growing to not-quite a household brand name through good products and kick-ass marketing. According to Bre, there's now some 5200 MakerBots in the wild today. The USD$10M represents approximately twice the revenue MakerBot has received for its entire existence.
But what does this investment mean, exactly? From the investors point of view, they are entrusting their USD$10M with MakerBot in hopes they can use it to grow significantly and hopefully provide huge returns on that investment. In other words, MakerBot now has a challenge: intelligently spend the USD$10M to grow the company as much as possible.
We suspect this may involve two strategies: first, pump up their manufacturing and distribution capacity to enable more sales and revenue. Second, some of the investment could be directed to development of new products. So far MakerBot has produced two 3D printers, the original CupCake and its successor the Thing-O-Matic. But as we get closer to 2012, one has to think that it might be getting near replacement time for the Thing-O-Matic with an even better 3D printer. That development effort would obviously be well served with a hefty squirt of investment juice. Timely, no?
We would therefore not be surprised to see a big announcement of a new 3D printer from MakerBot one of these days. How it might compare with the Thing-O-Matic would be a topic of speculation at this stage. But we'll give it a try soon.
Meanwhile, our congratulations to the entire MakerBot team on this huge event. and be sure to spend that money wisely on the most strategic moves.