Looking around at the companies at the Inside 3D Printing conference this week in New York, Mediabistro Chairman and CEO Alan Meckler says he is reminded of the potential he saw in the Internet in the ‘90s.

“When I got into 3D printing, I saw many of the same trappings as the early days of the Internet,” says Meckler, whose company organized the conference at New York City’s Javits Center. With a recent report from Canalys estimating that 3D printing could swell from a $2-billion to $16-billion industry by 2018, Meckler says he sees a lot of opportunity both for existing companies and startups.

“It’s very exciting,” says Meckler.

And while Mediabistro and 3D printing may seem like strange bedfellows, Meckler says the conference brings him back to his earlier career building trade shows.

“I created Internet World in the 1990s, and built it and sold it, and then I created Search Engine Strategies over seven years, and built it and sold that,” says Meckler.

Meckler has also taken an interest in 3D printing outside of the trade-show space. With his son, Meckler created TDPIX, a 3D printing-focused mutual fund, which debuted on January 29.  

“And as far as I know, today we are the only pure-play way to invest in 3D printing stocks instead of just buying your own, through a mutual fund,” says Meckler. He says the idea sprung from a missed opportunity in the Internet’s first heyday.

“I was one of the pioneers in the Internet space in the 1990s, and I actually came up with the idea of starting a mutual fund for Internet stocks and I passed on it. The fellow I gave the idea to sold it for $300 million,” says Meckler.

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