Kara Swisher

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MakerBot Sells to Stratasys for $403M — Plus $201M for Earn-Outs — as 3-D Printing Market Explodes

The democratizing of 3-D printing just saw its first big deal, with the sale of MakerBot to Stratasys for $403 million in stock, with an additional $201 million in performance-based earn-outs.

Stratasys is a larger industrial 3-D printing company, which has been around since 1989, while MakerBot has pioneered the desktop 3-D printing. But it has sold more than 22,000 3-D printers since it was founded in 2009, especially the most recent MakerBot Replicator 2 unit.

With it, a consumer can print out small objects, such as a plastic figurine. But the entire 3-D industry is innovating rapidly and things such as replacement body parts are also being printed on some machines.

MakerBot will continue to operate independently, out of its new factory in Brooklyn, Minneapolis- and Israel-based Stratasys said. MakerBot also has one retail store in Manhattan, where it shows off its printers and the thousands of objects that can be made from it.

Stratasys is a publicly-traded company, which merged with another company in the space called Objet, last year.

In 2011, MakerBot raised $10 million from a number of investors, including Foundry Group, RRE, True Ventures, Facebook exec Sam Lessin and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ personal investment group Bezos Expeditions. Thus, it’s obviously a big win for them all.

“We have an aggressive model for growth, and partnering with Stratasys will allow us to supercharge our mission to empower individuals to make things using a MakerBot, and allow us to bring 3-D technology to more people,” MakerBot CEO and co-founder Bre Pettis said in a press release. He will continue to lead the company.

Said Stratasys, about its move into the “prosumer” or “maker” arena: “The merger enhances Stratasys’ leadership position in the rapidly growing 3-D printer market, by enabling Stratasys to offer affordable desktop 3-D printers together with a seamless user experience.”

Indeed, sources close to the MakerBot said it was on track to reach revenue of more the $75 million in 2013, a huge leap over last year’s $10 million in sales. It could be more if its new scanner product is released on time and sells well. It will allow a user to scan an object and then render a digital file that can be used to print it, all without requiring drawing skills.

In addition, MakerBot also had many offers for additional funding, said sources, at similar valuation to the sale.

Stratasys said the transaction is expected to be completed during the third quarter of 2013, subject to regulatory approvals. There will be a press conference tomorrow morning about the deal at MakerBot’s New York HQ.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald