Autodesk Acquires DIY Community Instructables

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In its third acquisition this year, Autodesk, maker of design, engineering and entertainment software, has acquired San Francisco-based Instructables, a popular online community where people can upload, discuss, rate and collaborate on a wide variety of do-it-yourself projects.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Instructables was founded by chief executive officer Eric Wilhelm, a mechanical engineer, and launched in August 2005. You can read up on its history here.

Here’s how Autodesk, which announced the purchases of online photo editing service Pixlr and simulation software company Blue Ridge Numerics earlier this year, pitches this acquisition:

Millions of Autodesk customers around the world are passionate about making things – whether in their professional lives or their personal lives. Instructables will introduce Autodesk customers to a thriving community of like-minded, smart individuals, with whom they can learn and share their personal inspiration or hobbies.

Instructables members will benefit from Autodesk’s scale and powerful design tools, enabling the community to grow and share their ideas with a wider audience.

Whether the DIY community that makes Instructables tick will be equally enthusiastic about this acquisition remains to be seen. You can stay abreast of its members’ opinions via the previous link and on the forum post announcing the acquisition (which you can find here).

For what it’s worth, Autodesk intends to retain the Instructables brand and says it will continue to operate Instructables.com while preserving its authenticity. This is Wilhelm’s take on the matter:

Everyone here at Instructables HQ is absolutely thrilled, because this is going to be awesome for the entire Instructables community.Instructables will still be the same site you love: we’ll keep the Instructables name and URL, the whole team is staying on, our policies haven’t changed, you still hold copyright to your projects, we’ll still run awesome contests, and the Robot isn’t going anywhere.

However, we’ll now have the resources to make some improvements to the site I know our authors and community will love. Autodesk gives us the scale and support to grow and improve Instructables, build some great apps, and continue our mission of creating a positive impact on the world. Everyone on the Instructables team will become Autodesk employees, but we’ll still wear our Robot t-shirts with pride.

While members of the MIT Media Lab, Wilhelm and Saul Griffith founded Squid Labs, an engineering and technology company specializing in design and consulting. Instructables started as an internal Squid Labs project, and Wilhelm later spun it out as an independent company.

Instructables subsequently raised funding from O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures and Baseline Ventures, among other investors, although I haven’t been able to pin down how much.

Update: according to this recent Xconomy profile, Instructables raised “just shy of $2 million”.

The article also teaches us that Instructables currently boasts more than 2 million registered users and a collection of 55,000 how-to articles authored by more than 20,000 contributors.