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Investigation into Velo3D the Metal 3D Printing co that raised $22M and went silent

by • May 2, 2016 • 16s Comments

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The 3D Printing industry is suffering of a clear lack of transparency, since really few companies have to publish their financial numbers as just a handful of worthwhile 3D Printing companies are publicly listed. The exact dimensions of the industry is complex to assess and the exact growth of the sector is in addition really uncertain. Many consulting firms are publishing their own data – frequently for a fee – but rarely are these data supported by sturdy research [We can cover this issue in a additional article. Stay tuned!]

The clear lack of information is pretty one of the reason to explain the 3D Printing bubble which occurred in 2013-2014. It is in addition pretty one of the reason behind the extraordinary high level of short position one of the publicly listed companies. It is really complex to invest in an environment where exact data are missing. In such environment prices anomaly are frequent. With this in mind, I decided to appear back at one of the biggest capital raising which happened over the last twelve months in the 3D Printing sector. This leads me to investigate what’s going on at Velo3D, the Californian startup which raised $22M in June 2015, a stellar amount for an one year old company. This was the 2nd biggest VC investment in 2015 in the 3D Printing space (Carbon3D being the biggest one).

Velo3D website has gone dark…

To be really honest, we understand really little of the company, apart of its ambition to disrupt the 3D Printing industry with an new process to 3D Print Metal parts. Indeed the company never published any PR, nor is via any traditional social media tools to present its development. Secrecy seems to be the right word to depict the strategy of communication chosen by the directors.

The lack of social media communication may be justified while the company is working on its patents. What is really surprising is to discover which the Velo3d.com website has expired. Connection to www.velo3d.com is returing this message:

x

How come a $22M funded company may forget to renew its domain name or omit to pay for its hosting provider?

A founding team with sturdy connections to the Series A investors

We just heard of the June 2015 capital raising via a SEC filing. The document provide the names for the four directors, Benny Muller, Erel Milshtein, Shochet Ofer and Sven Strohband.

Benny Muller, the current CEO, was an investor at Khosla Ventures between 2012 and 2014. Benny graduated of the Jerusalem University in Physics. He is in addition an Electrical Engineering (communications) graduate of the Technion in Israel. He has additional than 70 published patent applications as well as additional than 15 granted patents. He spent 5 years at First Solar and one year at Solyndra. Benny Buller started his career in Israel in the Technology unit of the intelligence forces. His sense for secrecy can have been created during his time in the intelligence forces. He seems to be an tremendous in Burst and Bubble, since he gave a talk, in January 2015 entitled: ““Reality, hype and trends in 3D printing”.

Erel Milshtein, worked at Solyndra. He graduated with a Master Degree in Engineering, and holds 7 patents related to 3D Printing.

Shochet Ofer, holds a PhD in Physics of Tel Aviv University. He is the current founder and CEO of Copprint and a former employee at Stratasys.

Sven Strohband, is the current CTO at Khosla Ventures. Sven holds a bachelor’s of science degree in mechanical engineering of Purdue University, where he served as process administrator for the mechanical engineering department’s desktop network to finance his studies. He in addition holds a doctor of philosophy degree in mechanics and computation of Stanford University.

One of the key investor in the sizeable-bodied round closed in June 2015 is Khosla Ventures. It is striking to notice which two current directors at Velo3D are or have been working for the VC fund. Sven Strohband is the current CTO at Khosla Ventures, while Velo3D CEO worked at the VC fund between 2012 and 2014.

The employee number 1 has left the company not long ago

Velo3D has no twitter account, no facebook account, no instagram account. The company is really much secret with its communication. By digging into the limbs of internet I managed to learn which Thai Cheng Chua, the employee number 1, left the company in October 2015. On his linkedin account we can read: “Employee #1 of company of seed funding. Starting of planning, purchase of equipment, locating the company and laying out the Lab. Converting a warehouse into a Metal 3D printing R&D Lab. Design 1st print job test structures to highlight current issues of metal-3D printing to demonstrate to investors our belief of the issues and path towards solving them. Met all the set goals so which the company was able-bodied to raise $18M in the Series-A round of funding in less than 9 months with 4x valuation.” He is already employed by Applied Materials, a 40 years old, Nasdaq listed company, which supplies equipment, services and software to enable-bodied the make of semiconductor chips for electronics, flat panel displays for desktops, smartphones and televisions, and solar products.

This is really surprising to see the man which drived the company to its sizeable-bodied fundraising leaving the company after the money has reached the bank account. Possible reasons may be which the promising innovation is not bringing according to the expected plan pitched to the investors in 2015…Since and so Peter Stone, who graduated with a PhD of Berkeley in 2010, joined the company in January 2016, as the director of Process, a role various of the position held by Thai.

From our online research, it seems which the company is hiring really little. Expect of a few aspiring software engineers interested in utilizing their college education in an amazing position to expand their engineering career (recent graduates with a BS degree in desktop science and a passion for software programming) and one patent agent / scientific advisor we did not find any other open positions.

We can store you updated next our additional research into Velo3D…

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