November 2, 2015
It’s easy to get excited about additive manufacturing (AM). The technology is so full of promise that it builds enthusiasm simply by showcasing what it already offers. That enthusiasm can lead to overselling the current capabilities of 3D printing, however, particularly for those individuals responsible for professional levels of cheerleading.
Last week, 3D Systems (3DS) announced the departure of Avi Reichental, who had been serving as president, CEO and a director of the company. Reichental’s departure comes on the heels of a serious downturn in 3DS’s share price, and amid various lawsuits targeting the company, some of which name Reichental directly.
3D printing had been quietly at work in the background for decades before it rose to new levels of mainstream media attention in 2012. 3DS share prices soared, rising to an all-time high of $97.25 in 2014. Investment professionals had been issuing warnings for a while that 3DS’ stock might be a tad overvalued, essentially creating a 3D printing bubble ready to pop. The New Year brought fresh doubts to investors, and share prices began to slump, eventually falling to $10.08.
Although it seems likely that such a large drop in share price could have resulted in Reichental’s departure, regardless of other circumstances, other factors may also have played a role. A group of shareholders expressed their dissatisfaction with 3DS and Reichental’s leadership with the launch of a lawsuit in August. The suit claimed that Reichental and other members of 3DS’s leadership had overestimated the company’s ability to fulfill printer orders, leading to a loss in profits.
Additionally, recent arbitration awarded $11 million to Ronald Barranco, past owner of Print3D, a company that 3DS acquired in 2011. 3DS plans to contest the results, and claims the loss can easily be covered by cash on hand. Easily covered or not, the lawsuit only highlights the number of legal entanglements the company has been involved in over the last five years, including a copyright dispute with Formlabs.
The announcement of Reichental’s departure also included information about how 3DS intends to move forward:
… Board of Directors has established an Executive Management Committee to provide ongoing leadership and to support companywide operations and strategic initiatives. Charles Hull, Co-founder, Director and Chief Technology Officer, will serve as Chairman of the Committee, while Andrew Johnson will serve as Interim President and Chief Executive Officer, in addition to his continued role as Chief Legal Officer. Mark Wright, Chief Operating Officer, and David Styka, Chief Financial Officer, will also serve on the Executive Management Committee.
Below you’ll find a TED Talk featuring Reichental.