Famed VC investor Chamath Palihapitiya breaks down why he’s investing in Desktop Metal, a company set to go public via SPAC

FILE PHOTO: Chamath Palihapitiya, Founder and CEO of Social Capital, presents during the 2018 Sohn Investment Conference in New York City, U.S., April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File PhotoReuters

  • Chamath Palihapitiya explained in a Tweet on Monday why he’s investing in 3D printing company Desktop Metal. 
  • The venture capitalist said that manufacturing is entering its “2.0 era,” where tools and machinery are replaced by printers. Materials and parts will create an ecosystem that can “increasingly make anything.” 
  • He said Desktop Metal is the “leader” in this new era of manufacturing and already has distribution deals in over 60 countries.
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Chamath Palihapitiya helped lead a $275 million investment to take Desktop Metal, a 3D printing company, public via a SPAC. He called the company a “leader in manufacturing 2.0.”

The venture capitalist tweeted on Monday that Desktop Metal is leading the way in “the future of manufacturing” for many industries. The company is involved with additive manufacturing, which he described as “making complex parts for industrial production.” 

Additive manufacturing is entering a new era, according to Palihapitiya.

“There is going to be a shift from traditional additive manufacturing to 3D printing as the technology matures from prototyping to hi-volume production,” the CEO of Social Capital wrote. 

In the 1.0 era of manufacturing, tools and machinery faced limitations in volume, costs, inventory, and waste, he said. In the 2.0 era, tools and machinery are being replaced by printers. And, materials and parts will create “an on-demand ecosystem that can increasingly make anything, with a wide range of materials, methods, accuracy, and quantity.” 

Read more: Chamath Palihapitiya’s ego and a scattershot strategy gutted his venture-capital firm. Now the investor has a new playbook that could put him back on top.

“Additive manufacturing 2.0 is needed if you want to accelerate the trend towards re-shooting manufacturing jobs to the US and/or creating supply chain diversity in a post-pandemic world,” he wrote.

Palihapitiya said that Desktop Metal has distribution deals in over 60 countries and a pipeline of reservations for machines through 2024. He added that the 3D printing company already has well-known customers including Ford, Toyota, and the US Army. 

The company projects it can reach $942 million in annual revenue by 2025, he wrote. After Desktop Metal merges with special purpose acquisition company Trine Acquisition Corp., it will have an equity value of $2.4 billion, according to Palihapitiya’s note. 

The deal was announced on August 26 and is expected to be closed in the fourth quarter of 2020. Upon completing the transaction, the combined company will be named Desktop Metal Inc. and listed on the NYSE under the ticker symbol “DM.” 

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