Dan Loeb, the activist investor and CEO of Third Point, is selling a substantial part of his Yahoo stock, making a profit of $655 million and leaving the board along with his two appointees. The question is why, and more importantly, why now?
Just in time for SXSW this week, Shapeways debuted their new API, which allows developers to build consumer facing applications that can access the Shapeways printing network and marketplace.
Why is this important? First and foremost, you need to understand that Shapeways does its biggest chunk of business directly with creators, people who upload their own 3D printed designs and are savvy with 3D printer software. However, the much bigger opportunity is in a broader audience, those who want access to 3D printed creations but don’t know or necessarily want to know how to use 3D design and CAD software.
That’s where the API comes in. In my opinion, the gateway to mass-market 3D device creation is through software, much more so than lower cost and easier to use 3D printers. While I’ve stated that low-cost 3D printers for consumers will eventually arrive, the services are much more accessible and affordable today.
So what does the API have to do with this? Well, by making an API available that accesses the Shapeways printing network (with controls over materials, etc) and the marketplace, savvy app developers can create offerings that make 3D printed creations even more accessible. Combine in the fact that Shapeways allows you to build your own storefront, the Shapeways API will help usher in the coming wave of “Shapeways millionaires” which CEO Peter Weijmarshausen talked to me about recently.
What are some future possible outputs? Imagine, for example, Rovio putting a feature in the next Angry Birds app that allows users to create an Angry Bird 3D model, with a handful of different features or variations. A menu of these options are preselected and built into the app, and the API quickly accesses all the necessary information and delivers it to the fulfillment engine of the Shapeways marketplace.
Today you already see this on a small scale with MixeeMe. I think you’ll see a whole bunch more interesting uses of Shapeways printing services and marketplace enabled through their new API over the next year.
Looking for a new tech toy? Well how about a 3D printer?
After all, you can buy the latest model from Makerbot, who today announced the second model of their fourth generation 3D printer, the dual extrusion Replicator 2X (dual extrusion means that it can print two materials simultaneously, which is a big step towards more complex modeling).
But before you buy that cool new gadget, you might just want to look at the sticker price first: $2799. The single extrusion Replicator 2 model is cheaper, but not by much: $2199.
So while everyone, including the President, sees 3D printing as the future of, well, everything, I’d suggest that pricing is one of the main reasons 3D printing is still a few years off from becoming a mass market technology.
What are the other reasons? The most obvious is technical difficulty. While low cost 3D printers like that from Printrbot can be had for a few hundred bucks, most of the low-cost models require some assembly, and all models, including those which are fully assembled (like the Makerbot), still require some technical understanding such as how to use 3D modeling software.
In reality, I think most consumers first exposure with 3D printing won’t be through buying their own personal 3D printer for the home, but instead through an online services business. Companies like Shapeways and Materialise are on the front end of a rapidly growing 3D printing services online, where artists and creators can use 3D printing capacity from these companies to create products using their own designs, and others can use designs from others or simply buy 3D printed products like jewelry or toys.
The CEO of Shapeway, Peter Weijmarshausen, told me the company is likely to see its first “Shapeways millionaire” in the next year or two, from the batch of about 8 thousand or so entrepreneurs who have created storefronts on Shapeways marketplace.
I have a feeling the first 3D printing services millionaire will be the first of many.
Most people want to share content that makes them look good — a concept that Gravity CEO Amit Kapur called “peacocking” at paidContent 2012 this afternoon. Sometimes that urge is a good thing, but sometimes it gets in the way of delivering a truly personalized online experience.
Scott Thompson’s mythical computer science degree not only took him down as CEO, it forced a board change, gave shareholder Daniel Loeb a way in and made the focus on how the company is run — not what it is doing. Can Ross Levinsohn change that?
Until now, Dan Loeb could squawk all he wanted about the failures of the Yahoo board but the odds that he could force real change were slim. Now there’s a chance he could get new CEO Scott Thompson fired.
Does three make a trend? In recent months, both former Gawker editor Emily Gould and GigaOm’s Michael Wolf launched their own e-book venture…
Each week, GigaOM Pro chats with one of our analysts to find out which technologies they read about, write about and can’t live without. This week, we talk to Jo Maitland, the newest member of the GigaOM Pro team and our brand-new infrastructure/cloud curator.
The most popular articles on Pro this week focused on the future of the e-book industry, and the devices, discovery tools, and consumer marketplaces that may prove to be the biggest players in the e-book’s growth trajectory.
GigaOM’s recent GigaOM RoadMap conference, with its emphasis on the future of connectivity and consumers, is a major influence on this week’s Top 5. Also hot: Kindle Fire, hyperlocal targeting and tablets.