"I knew that was going to happen. I also knew that I couldn't say anything," MakerBot CEO and cofounder Bre Pettis told Valleywag this morning at the grand opening of the company's new 50,000 sq. ft. production facility in Sunset Park in Brooklyn. Pettis was referring to a question about yesterday's report that MakerBot was in acquisition talks and might sell rather than raise more venture funding.
"I can’t, I really shouldn't and I won’t comment on speculation," Pettis said on stage earlier, after pom-pom waving speeches from New York City chief digital officer Rachel Hoat and Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz, Pettis said. (At one point, Markowitz, a fixture at these type of events, began clapping as he chanted, "Jobs jobs jobs! Money money money! Taxes taxes taxes! Growth growth growth!")
But Pettis elaborated, slightly, when we pressed for details after the tour: "We’re not going anywhere. We just moved in here. We just opened up!" he said, gesturing at the production stations around him, where a largely non-white staff assembled, tested, and packaged 3D printers.
"We have this crazy business model. We make things and then we sell them," Pettis responded, wryly, when we asked how the expanded facility was financed. He claimed it was through profits alone. "We raised $75k in the beginning. It was $1.2 million from angels and then $10 million from a venture round in, goodness gracious, 2011. And now we just make machines."
According to the Wall Street Journal, MakerBot, which services clients like Boeing, Ford, and Georgia Pacific, and counts Amazon as an investor, began looking to raise $25 million about six weeks ago:
The four-year-old startup was recently gauging its options for raising a new round of venture capital at a valuation of $300 million when the discussions led to interest from possible acquirers, the people said.
"I’m pretty good at making decisions, so we’ll take them as they come," Pettis said when we asked if he would prefer to continue funding the company with venture investment, as opposed to an acquisition. "We'll make the right call."
What about further expansion plans? "I don't know if you noticed, but there’s a couple other buildings over here," he said, looking out factory window at the Bush Terminal Industrial Campus, a complex that employed 25,000 workers at its peak. "Welcome to MakerBot Town."