After their acquisition of MakerBot, we're expecting changes in StrataBot, or is it MakerSys? We're just kidding; neither Stratasys nor MakerBot will change their name as a result of this week's acquisition; there's too much value associated with each brand. But what else will change?
The two companies have some similarities in technology - both use a plastic extrusion process. But that's where the similarities end. Here's some key differences:
- Market: Stratasys focuses on industrial clients, while MakerBot focuses on consumers and professionals
- Background: MakerBot originated in a very strong Open Source environment, while Stratasys stood on patents and trade secrets
- Marketing: Stratasys follows a very traditional big-company marketing approach, using press releases and limited social media, while MakerBot rules social media with aggressive, cutting edge techniques
- Budget: MakerBot, until recent investments, had limited cash to operate and has a strong heritage of "making do", including using a garage as a factory, while Stratasys is a major corporation with multiple international office campuses and standards-certified factories
What might happen when these differences collide?
We suspect the two brands will retain their original market targets: Stratasys for industrial and MakerBot for consumers. But what happens to the professional market that MakerBot was starting to enter? We suspect they'll withdraw and leave that to Stratasys.
Stratasys will likely insist on patenting various MakerBot inventions, at least any going forward. This could further alienate MakerBot's traditional open source audience from which they came. MakerBot depended on such innovation in their initial years, but that could be replaced by a traditional R&D department.
Stratasys marketing could learn some tricks from MakerBot. While not yet essential to the industrial business, highly effective social media marketing could help them in the future.
MakerBot will have access to Stratasys internal budget for research, but perhaps won't need as much as you'd expect because they can simply lean on existing technologies already developed by Stratasys for industrial products.
The companies may not have new names, but over the next year we expect to see radically different Stratasys and MakerBot companies.