The CEO of a $12 billion biotech startup explains why he didn’t look to Silicon Valley for backing

Samumed is working on treatments to regenerate everything from hair to cartilage, which, if successful could be a huge medical breakthrough.

The startup has already reportedly reached a $12 billion valuation, much higher than most early-stage biotech companies.

But it did this without turning to the usual crowd of investors in biotech startups — venture-capital and private-equity firms.

Instead, the company’s CEO, Osman Kibar, told CNBC that the funding came from “a number of family offices and sovereign funds and high net-worth individuals.”

When asked if the San Diego-based company had headed up north to seek funding from Silicon Valley investors, Kibar said they had not. Why avoid Silicon Valley, which has shown plenty of willingness to back early-stage biotech companies? Because he wants shareholders with a longer-term mindset, Kibar said.

“So far, all our studies, all our programs are making nice and steady progress,” he said. “But when it comes to investors, we have chosen not to go to the typical early-stage biotech investors — you know the VCs and the private-equity funds — primarily because the timelines do not fit with our long-term goals.”

Samumed, which was founded in 2008, came out of stealth mode about half a year ago when it started presenting some of its data. The company’s technology targets certain proteins that scientists think play a critical role in the development and renewal of stem cells, which give rise to other types of specialized cells, from eye cells to skin and hair cells.

One of Samumed’s farthest-along treatments in development is for baldness. The hope is that by using the treatment, people with androgenetic alopecia, a common form of hair loss, will be able to regrow some of their lost hair follicles, the layer of cells and connective tissue that envelope the root of a hair and are critical for its growth.

Samumed most recently presented some phase-two trial data on that treatment at the American Academy of Dermatology conference in March.


Lydia Ramsey
Business Insider
May 6, 2016

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