Two Bay Area Companies Cut Staff to Support Strategic Growth

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In September, San Francisco-based uBiome, founded in 2012, secured $83 million in a Series C financing round. Yesterday, the company laid off about 10 percent of its staff.

The company, which last year made a shift toward the development of treatments for patients with chronic gut conditions such as IBD, IBS, Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis, pink-slipped 30 employees in the U.S. and 25 overseas, CNBC reported. Chief Financial Officer Joel Jung told CNBC that the company is shifting to a focus on “drugs and partnerships with drug developers.” The layoffs were made as part of a decision to “realign operations to set us up, and even add staff, as we expand our focus in therapeutics,” Jung told CNBC.

The CNBC report did not provide details as to when the layoffs will take place, or from where in the company the layoffs would hit hardest. In his statement to CNBC, Jung did not provide any additional information as to potential future hirings once the company realignment is complete.

When the Series C was announced last year, uBiome Chief Executive Officer Jessica Richman said the financing was part of the evolution of the company.

“This financing allows us to expand our product portfolio, increase our focus on patent assets, and further raise our clinical profile, especially as we begin to focus on commercialization of drug discovery and development of our patent assets,” Richman said at the time.

uBiome wasn’t the only company to announce job cuts. Recently, Dublin-based Theravance Biopharma announced it had cut 50 employees as part of a focus on the execution of strategic programs. The cuts affected employees primarily focused on early research or the infrastructure in support of Vibativ (telavancin), an antibiotic that recently sold by the company to Cumberland Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Rick Winningham, chairman and CEO of Theravance, which also has a significant presence in the Bay Area, said the company’s portfolio has evolved, particularly since the commercial launch of Yupelri, a treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. Yulperi (revefenacin) was approved in November by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, Winningham pointed to the advancement of other assets into late-stage studies, including TD-1473 and ampreloxetine (TD-9855), a Phase II cardiovascular treatment.

“At this juncture, we concluded it was prudent to focus resources on our late-stage research projects and translational science, late-stage development pipeline, and the commercialization of Yulperi, Winningham said in a statement.

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Winningham said the company is scaling back activities in early research. Despite that, Theravance is committed to drug discovery as a source of future long-term growth for the company, he added.

 “In 2019, those efforts will include driving four new, promising organ-selective projects toward first-in-human studies,” Winningham said.

For Theravance, the cuts come about a month after the company announced the closing of a private placement of $250 million of non-recourse PhaRMA  9% fixed rate term notes. The notes were secured by a portion of the future payments that Theravance expects to receive related to royalties due on net sales of Trelegy Ellipta. The company said it will use the net proceeds from this transaction to support the continued execution of its key strategic programs.

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