Over the last 18 months we have seen more acquisitions within the 3D printing space than we had likely witnessed over the previous 5 years combined. Competition and fear of larger players entering the industry have given rise to an all-out acquisition spree among the leaders within the industry thus far. If companies like Stratasys and 3D Systems truly believe that 3D printing will see the explosive growth, among numerous verticals, that analysts predict, then now seems to be the perfect time to spend cash to acquire technologies which may provide a catalyst for even faster growth.
Despite this wave of acquisitions, there are new startups popping up each day, and the pool of possible acquisition targets seems to continue to deepen. Below are a handful of possible targets that the larger players within the space, those entering the industry (i.e., HP), or even those companies outside the industry altogether could potentially look toward for an acquisition.
When New Matter launched their MOD-t 3D Printer on Indiegogo last June, starting at just $149 for early bird backers, the 3D printing community began to buzz. And although the crowdfunding campaign didn’t break records, the company ended up raising over $683,000, pre-selling over 2,500 machines.
Since then New Matter has garnered a tremendous amount of media attention and investors are lining up to help fund the company’s growth. In fact, just last month they raised $6.5 million in Series A funding, which was led by Alsop Louie Partners. Certainly at this point the company does not need to be acquired in order to succeed, but an acquisition by a well-known firm could provide a substantial boost to future sales.
Perhaps 3D Systems or Stratasys may be interested; however, both these companies already have a successful line of desktop 3D printers to their names. What would make more sense would be a company outside the consumer 3D printing space using a New Matter acquisition as a sort of launching point for such a business. HP would be a fine example, as would other major tech players that have yet to venture into the space such as a Google, Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Amazon, or even an Apple.
Affordability is key within the consumer space, and New Matter’s MOD-t certainly possesses this attribute. Imagine if Amazon was to acquire the company and rebrand the MOD-t as the ‘Amazon 3D Printer’. They could perhaps even subsidize its cost, as they look toward sales of 3D models as a means of revenue. Apple could also be a decent suitor as the company could provide an iTunes for 3D models, capturing yet another growing revenue stream.
Late last year, the company, founded by Harvard Professor Jennifer A. Lewis and her team, launched what may be one of the more exciting evolutions in 3D printing we have seen in some time. Voxel8’s 3D electronics printer blew industry experts and the media away when it was presented at this year’s CES. The printer, able to fabricate thermoplastic objects which have highly conductive silver ink integrated within, allows for the printing of items with embedded circuits. This means one can feasibly 3D print electronic devices such as drones, electromagnets, and more.
There is no doubt that this is where 3D printing will be headed next. Whether companies like Stratasys and 3D Systems decide to compete directly against Voxel8 by investing in and developing their own techniques to print conductive circuitry, or simply choose to buy this company out is anyone’s guess. While HP may have some interest in Voxel8, it may be too early in their game for them to begin acquiring companies within the space, and with a recent investment into the company by In-Q-Tel, which has ties to the CIA, Voxel8 may have a hefty price tag.
This company is one I have had my eyes on for a couple of years now. When I think of the future I think of Organovo, which is already 3D printing human liver tissue samples and selling them under their exVive3D brand. The ultimate goal of Organovo is to 3D print functioning human organs for transplantation. Although still a decade or more away, Organovo seems to have the biggest lead in this area. After a major drop in share price as of late, the company now is valued at under $400 million, making them possibly a very affordable acquisition target for any number of pharmaceutical giants.
Not only could the company’s exVive3D product lead to a shortening of clinical trials for many drugs, and thus a shorter path to market, but the product itself could be a major revenue generator as the company continues their drive to reach their long-term goals. Organovo also expects to have a Kidney version of their exVive3D offering available sometime in 2016. With tens (if not hundreds) of billions of dollars spent by pharmaceutical giants on acquisitions, annually, Organovo may just be among the next to be bought out.
As for Organovo’s willingness to be acquired, CEO Keith Murphy stated at a recent Oppenheimer investor conference that he would not be opposed to selling the company.
Sure, it’s very possible we may be sitting here reading this story sometime next year having seen not even one of these companies acquired. With that said, I think that all three companies listed above have exceptionally promising futures, and more than likely an acquisition will eventually be in all of their futures.
What do you think? Who will be the first to be acquired, and which company will be doing the acquiring? Discuss in the 3D Printing Acquisition forum thread on 3DPB.com.