Formlabs announced a new round of investment, but the implications of it are quite significant.
The announcement dealt with a new investment round, this time from venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates with an amount of USD$15M.
There was time in Formlabs’ lifecycle where USD$15M would have been considered a large amount, but given their three previous investment rounds of USD$30M, USD$35M and USD$19M, a “mere” USD$15M sounds like an afterthought.
But it’s not the amount of the investment that matters; no, instead it’s the percentage of the company that it represents that matters most. Given that all shares of the company have equal value, those purchased by NEA effectively set the rate for all shares. This rate can be used to then calculate the value of the entire company; the sum of all share values.
According to Formlabs, the recent investment set a share rate that makes the total share value exceed USD$!B for the first time. Now that’s a big number!
How big is it? Recently the other large, publicly traded 3D printing companies were valued as follows:
- Stratasys: USD$1.07B
- 3D Systems: USD$1.40B
- VoxelJet: USD$0.066B
These are the publicly traded 3D printer companies, and there are several private companies whom we do not know an official valuation, because, well, they’re private! But we do know that at least two of them have significant values: Desktop Metal and Carbon, simply based on the amount of investment they’ve received, which in both cases suggest they’re also in the USD$1B range.
Another likely highly-valued private 3D printer company is European-based EOS, but we don’t have any idea since they are not only private, but haven’t had any VC-style investments recently so it’s hard to estimate their value. But they’re prominent in the marketplace, growing and have been around a very long time.
Thus it seems that Formlabs can now officially be classed in the same category as Stratasys, 3D Systems, Carbon, Desktop Metal and EOS, the corporate leaders in the field as of this moment.
There’s another irony here.
Formlabs says, in their release, that they are the “Number one seller of stereolithography 3D printers worldwide”, which we don’t doubt, given the popularity of their incredibly powerful and easy to use Form 2 machine. But the other big manufacturer of SLA 3D printing equipment is, of course, 3D Systems.
It wasn’t that long ago that 3D Systems launched a lawsuit against Formlabs for patent infringement. It was a classic case of the big guy vs the tiny newcomer. That suit was settled between the two parties in an undisclosed arrangement. At one point years ago we even speculated that 3D Systems might acquire Formlabs!
But today we see that the tables have turned, at least to some degree. Formlabs may sell more SLA units than 3D Systems, although 3D Systems’ products are typically much larger and carry a higher margin for each unit, hence 3D Systems’ still larger valuation.
But I wonder how long that will last.