Sculpteo becomes the latest “Netvibes” disappointment with its pivot to B2B

May 27, 2014
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When I first met Sculpteo CEO Clément Moreau, I was pretty impressed with his vision for the future of 3D. We discussed how 3D Printing could disrupt manufacturing and distribution altogether, and he showed me how they were 3D printing wax casts which could then be used to create silver, gold or other metal objects, essentially 3D Printed on the spot.

Of course, 3D Printing has yet to grow out of its ‘maker’ phase – the most advantageous part of 3D Printing is its ability to print from a 3D image, meaning you can print things that, manually, would be difficult – if not impossible – to create.

Sculpteo was managing the 3D Printing & shipping back-end for quite a number of clients – it had an API that allowed third party application to enable their users to 3D things on the fly.

This kind of ambition focused towards such an unproven market is rare in France, which is why I was pretty disappointed this past weekend, when I learned that Sculpteo would be pivoting towards an even-more B2B model, falling back on a deal with LaPoste to provide them with 3D Printing services via a new factory being built outside of Paris.

This positioning means that, ultimately, Sculpteo will likely be gobbled up by Dassault Systèmes, which already has a 3D arm, and has a propensity for purchasing former B2C companies which pivot to B2B, in turn cutting their valuation in 5 or 10. Exalead, Netvibes, … and now Sculpteo.

Of course, the acquisition isn’t even on the horizon, but Sculpteo’s move reminds me too much of Netvibes’ pivot from B2C to B2B. The same argument was used then as Eric Carreel uses in his interview with LaTribune – ‘We just don’t have the resources to be B2C’ – which means that, like Netvibes, Sculpteo will eventually see the lion’s share of its former B2C market gobbled up by a US competitor, who will subsequently leverage its B2C presence into a B2B play, as has been the norm in the past 8-10 years.

At the Connected Conference next month, we’ll be bringing together players from the 3D space to discuss 3D’s role in the Connected Hardware space, but also, inevitably, the evolution of 3D Printing as a whole. We’ll bring together the founders of SOLS, Sketchfab & 3D Hubs to discuss this recent announcement & more.

 

Not having the resources means that Sculpteo can’t justify fundraising to investors, which to me means that the startup should die. Of course, I wish Sculpteo the greatest success in their new positioning, but as a startup, I can’t help but slide them from the ‘promising’ category into the ‘graveyard’ category.

I wonder if they spoke with Tariq Krim (Netvibes co-founder and current Jolicloud CEO) about their decision? I wonder what he would say?

At the Co