There’s been a very puzzling development at Sigma Additive Solutions.
Sigma Additive Solutions is one of the key software providers for additive manufacturing operations. Their flagship product is PrintRite3D, a unified interface for quality control of additive manufacturing systems.
The software accepts inputs from a variety of sources, some real time, to produce quality control monitoring and reports. They call it “real time in-process inspection”, and it can save a considerable amount of effort.
Their software is used by a good proportion of production additive manufacturing operations.
Suddenly this week the company announced major changes. Let’s take this one step at a time:
- They announced they are acquiring 100% of NextTrip, a consumer travel company (what!)
- They’re paying for the acquisition with about 20% of their shares
- NextTrip’s CEO will become the CEO of the expanded company
- The expanded company will pursue acquisitions in the consumer travel space
- The company will be renamed “NextTrip”
Hold on, this seems quite bizarre for an additive manufacturing software company. What happens to their software? Will it survive?
Yes, it turns out there’s another move here: the in-process quality management software assets, which include code, patents and other stuff, are to be sold separately to another company, Divergent.
What is Divergent? They are a software company that produces an end-to-end digital production system called Divergent Adaptive Production System (DAPS). DAPS is used by various industries, including automotive, aerospace, and military applications. DAPS also includes a quality management component, which will no doubt be enhanced with the addition of PrintRite3D.
What’s really happening here? It’s not stated, but I might provide some speculation.
Sigma Additive has a valuable capability: they are on the stock market and their shares can be traded at any time. In order for a company to get on the market, they must undergo a challenging and expensive legal process that might cause problems.
NextTrip must have wanted to get on to the stock market to raise money for their acquisitions. Here we have a kind of “reverse take over”, where Sigma Additive “acquires” NextTrip, but really it’s NextTrip that takes over control. The result is that NextTrip is suddenly on the stock market without having to go through the difficult IPO process.
Why would Sigma Additive agree to this move? I suspect there are two reasons.
First, the shareholders of Sigma Additive would be amply rewarded for their agreement in some way. They also become shareholders of an ambitious travel company that could very well grow substantially in coming years.
Secondly, it may be the Sigma Additive board sees more potential in this deal than continuing with their previous software venture. While PrintRite3D has been successful, money talks.
As for PrintRite3D, it seems that it will survive, but under another company’s leadership. That company, Divergent, appears to have interests aligned with those of Sigma Additive, so I expect software users may continue as is, at least for now.