Two Biotech Startups With a Shot at Reaching a Billion-Dollar Valuation

Published: Oct 02, 2017

Two Biotech Startups With a Shot at Reaching a Billion-Dollar Valuation September 27, 2017
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

For the last three years, Forbes has come up with an annual list of 25 U.S. companies the publication thinks could hit a valuation of $1 billion or more. Of this year’s list, two are biotech companies. Let’s look.

1. Ginkgo BioWorks

Headquartered in Boston, Gingko Bioworks describes itself as “the organism company.” It designs custom microbes for multiple markets, such as perfumes, foods, cosmetics, and bioindustrial applications.

Founded by Jason Kelly, its chief executive officer, and Reshma Shetty, Barry Canton, Austin Che and Tom Knight, Ginkgo has raised $154 million in equity investment to date and has estimated revenue for this year exceeding $20 million. Its lead investors include Senator Investment Group, Viking Global Investors, and Y Combinator.

Forbes writes, that Ginkgo “makes custom-designed living cells for companies in the fragrance, food, agriculture and pharmaceutical industries. Using DNA that it designs and manufactures, Boston-based Ginkgo programs cells to produce everything from the enzymes needed to make cheese and yogurt to the essential ingredient in peach flavoring. For French fragrance firm Robertet, Ginkgo makes microbes that generate rose oil.”

The company currently has 44 cells in the pipeline for 25 customers that will provide the company with both research-and-development fees and royalties. The company’s founders, except for Knight, were all MIT doctorates, whereas Knight is an engineer turned synthetic biologist. The company depended upon government grants for the first five years. In 2014, it launched its first commercial products via the Silicon Valley accelerator Y Combinator program. It currently has 170 employees and 60 software-directed robots.

2. Livongo

Based in Mountain View, Calif., Livongo is a consumer digital health company focused on diabetes management, although it plans to work in other areas, such as hypertension. The company as founded by Glen Tullman, the company’s chief executive officer. It has raised $142 million in equity from lead investors General Catalyst, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Microsoft Ventures.

The company was launched in 2014, and manufactures and sells a glucose monitor that transmits blood glucose data to the cloud. The company’s tech then provides results and treatment instructions to the monitor.

The company was launched in 2014, and manufactures and sells a glucose monitor that transmits blood glucose data to the cloud. The company’s tech then provides results and treatment instructions to the monitor.

Forbes writes, “When a reading indicates a serious health threat, a Livongo diabetes specialist calls the patient within 90 seconds. Most of its 200-plus customers are self-insured employers, including AT&T, Boeing and Exxon Mobil.”

The company’s digital platform for diabetes has been implemented by more than 200 Fortune 500 companies, health systems, health plans and pharmacy benefit managers. More than 50,000 diabetes patients are currently enrolled.

On Sept. 21, the company announced that Bimal Shah, a practicing non-invasive cardiologist, was joining the company as senior vice president for Clinical and Strategic Partnerships. Shah represents the company’s plans to expand to hypertension and to provide solutions for patients with multiple chronic conditions.

“Dr. Bimal Shah brings extensive heart disease knowledge to Livongo,” said Jennifer Schneider, Livongo Health’s chief medical officer, in a statement. “His clinical experience coupled with his experience building data-driven healthcare products will play a critical role in Livongo’s expansion to hypertension and beyond.”

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