Venture Capitalists have been piling into 3D printing companies, believing that 3D printing will change the world. Some VC’s see a world where customers will buy instructions for printing goods, rather than the physical goods themselves. Children won’t buy toys, but rather instructions for creating toys.
Shapeways and Makerbot are two privately held 3D printing companies that have received a significant amount of VC-funding and media attention. They are leading the charge in the world of privately held companies helping to make product design more accessible and personal. Shapeways is backed by Lux Capital, Union Square Ventures and Index Ventures. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently cut the ribbon on Shapeways’ new factory with a pair of 3D printed scissors. See the video here.
The worlds of Venture Capital and the public markets are connected. Publicly traded 3D printing companies, DDD and SSYS, are publicly traded vehicles that retail investors can use to play the 3D printing investment theme. I’m not recommending investors jump into these companies, just saying that they are nice proxies for investors interested in following this trend. They’ve both had nice run ups prior to this recent pullback, and I believe are still in the early innings of a long term opportunity.
Don’t believe that this is a long term opportunity? Someone does, look at how DDS and SSYS stock prices have tracked versus HPQ’s this year. The world’s changing and the money is following the perceived winners. However, some things about the world probably won’t change, and the old guard (HPQ) will probably end up buying one of the new guard companies to join the trend.
I’m not telling you that you should invest in one of these companies, I am telling you that this is an important investment trend that you need to be aware of, and be prepared to move into opportunities when the right entry point presents itself. Due your due diligence and profit.