In a culture with no widespread experience of 3-D printing–and thus no real way to gauge its mass appeal–it is difficult to imagine how big MakerBot might get. But in recent months, Pettis’s company began selling prebuilt printers and taking its first steps into traditional retail. “I think it’s an enormous business,” says Brad Feld, managing director of Foundry Group, a firm that led MakerBot’s venture-capital round and has also invested in Zynga. Jeff Bezos’s venture-capital vehicle put some money in too–after Pettis met the Amazon founder at a conference and Bezos proceeded to grill him about the MakerBot strategy for half an hour. For these investors, the bet is that 3-D printers will become as popular as laser printers are today. Feld insists it will happen within a decade. If anything close to that comes true, somebody is going to make a lot of money
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