Late yesterday 3D Systems announced their long-time CEO, Avi Reichental, has stepped down, leaving a job opening at the top of one of the largest 3D printing companies in the world today.
Reichental served as the company’s CEO for some 12 years, largely shaping what 3D Systems is today. In the interim, his former duties will be provided by an “Executive Management Committee”, composed of board members and senior staff. The announcement also said:
The Company’s Board of Directors will immediately commence a comprehensive search and evaluation process to select a permanent replacement for the role of President and Chief Executive Officer.
The founder of 3D Systems, and inventor of the the SLA 3D printing process decades ago, Charles Hull, said:
We are profoundly grateful for the visionary leadership Avi has provided to our business and to our industry, and we wish him well in his future endeavors. As our industry continues to evolve and we look to the future, we are focused on aligning our resources and programs to best serve our customers and are excited about the many opportunities ahead.
Hull will serve as the chair of the new Executive Management Committee.
No other explanations were provided, but it could be that the company is seeking a new direction, a frequent reason for switching out CEOs. Remember, the CEO doesn’t literally do the work of the company, the CEO brings in a strategy and executes it by ensuring the right people are in place to do the necessary work.
In the case of Reichental, the main strategies we observed over the past few years were two: Acquisitions to gather a wide breadth of technologies, processes and services; and Consumer 3D printing.
Acquisitions were the speciality of 3D Systems, who were well-known for acquiring many 3D print-related companies in recent years. In fact, we did a brief analysis of this practice and found they had acquired no less than 54 companies (and perhaps a few more after our analysis was completed!) Some of these worked very well, such as the ZCorp acquisition, which now forms a major pillar of 3D Systems product lines. Other acquisitions, such as BotMill, didn’t really get very far. In any case, acquiring over fifty companies is a massive challenge for any company of any size.
Consumer 3D printing was a big theme for 3D Systems (and others), particularly two years ago. However, due to the ongoing complexity of using the technology and lack of clear use cases for general consumers, it seems that the expected demand for consumer 3D printing has been postponed. We suspect 3D Systems fell victim to this phenomenon just as some other companies have done.
We will soon see a new person at the helm of 3D Systems, but for now we don’t know to where the company will set it’s direction. We could speculate, but that’s a story for another day.
Via 3D Systems