Karen Hong, Racquel Bracken and Jean George are involved in a liquidity event; Anne Wojcicki’s 23andMe trades on the NYSE

From our weekly Women's PE Briefs - week commencing June 21, 2021

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Karen Hong, Racquel Bracken and Jean George see Cyteir Therapeutics list on Nasdaq

Novo VenturesKaren Hong, Venrock’s Racquel Bracken and Lightstone VenturesJean George are on the board of a company that goes public. Cyteir Therapeutics, Inc. raised $133 million by offering 7.4 million shares at $18 a share. It is listed on Nasdaq under the symbol CYT.

Lexington, Mass.-based Cyteir is developing synthetic lethal therapies for cancer. The company’s work is based on the biology of DNA repair and synthetic lethality, which is based on the premise that diseased cells have greater levels of DNA damage than healthy cells and thus more acutely rely on DNA repair for survival and growth.

Novo was the largest shareholder with a 16.9 percent pre-IPO stake. Venrock and Droia Ventures each held 12 percent while Lightstone and Osage University Partners each had 9 percent.

Earlier this year, Cyteir raised an $80 million Series C round, which in addition to Novo, Venrock, Lightstone and Droia included RA Capital. Karen, Raquel and Jean all joined Cyteir’s board when they brought their firms into the company’s $75.2 million Series B round, which had closings in March 2018 and October 2019. Cyteir’s board also includes Susan Molineaux, who is CEO, president, and co-founder of Calithera Biosciences.

Karen joined Novo Ventures – the venture arm of Novo A/S – in 2019 from Takeda Ventures. She also spent nearly 15 years at ProQuest Investments. Karen is on the board of StrideBio, Inc., a gene therapy company co-founded by Mavis Agbandje-McKenna.

Racquel, a partner with Venrock, is also on the boards of Prothelia Therapeutics and Federation Bio, which she co-founded and whose CEO is Emily Drabant Conley.

A general partner with Lightstone, Jean is also on the boards of Calithera Biosciences and Gemini Therapeutics. Last year, Jean saw one portfolio company, Disarm Therapeutics, purchased by Eli Lilly & Co. in a deal that could pay out $1.225 billion, and another, Tizona Therapeutics, agree to have Gilead Sciences purchase 49.9 percent for $300 million and an option to purchase the rest for $1.25 billion.

Bihua Chen’s Cormorant and F-Prime’s Jessica Alston have a portfolio company go public

Bihua Chen’s Cormorant Asset Management and F-Prime Capital’s Jessica Alston have a portfolio company go public. Verve Therapeutics raised $267 million by offering 14 million shares at $19 a share. It is trading on Nasdaq under the symbol VERV.

Based in Cambridge, Mass., Verve is utilizing human genetic analysis and gene editing in order to create a new treatment approach for adults at risk of coronary artery disease. Its lead product is focused on treating heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, a potentially fatal genetic heart disease. Verve was founded by a team of researchers in cardiovascular genetics and gene editing and has license agreements with Harvard University and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Neither Cormorant nor F-Prime were listed in Verve’s filing with the SEC as owning more than 5 percent of its stock. GV was the largest shareholder prior to the offering with a 34.6 percent pre-IPO stake. Biomatics, ARCH Venture Partners and Wellington Management all owned 8 percent.

Verve’s board includes Sheila Mikhail, founder and CEO of AskBio, which was acquired last year by Bayer AG. Jessica helped lead F-Prime into Verve in 2019 and took an observer’s seat. Cormorant took part earlier this year in the company’s $94 million Series B round.

Cormorant now has had at least 11 companies go public in 2021. The others are: Centessa Pharmaceuticals; Rain Therapeutics, Inc.; VectivBio Holding; Biomea Fusion; Prometheus Biosciences, Inc.; Design Therapeutics; Edgewise Therapeutics; Ambrx, Inc. (See Story Below); Pharvaris, which Anne Lesage co-founded; and Talaris Therapeutics, Inc., which was founded by Dr. Suzanne Ildstad.

Cormorant also has at least five companies in registration: Artiva Biotherapeutics, Inc., GH Research Ireland, Elevation Oncology, Aerovate Therapeutics, Inc. and Graphite Bio, whose scientific co-founders include Dr. Maria Grazia Roncarolo. It also has another, Tango Therapeutics, which is set to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company. Tango’s CEO is Dr. Barbara Weber.

A portfolio company of Jessica’s, Singular Genomics Systems, went public last month and another portfolio company, Beam Therapeutics, went public last year. Jessica’s portfolio also includes BioPalette, LunaDNA, NFlection Therapeutics, Nocion Therapeutics, Tempest Therapeutics and Atalanta Therapeutics, which was co-founded by Anastasia Khvorova and whose president and CEO is Alicia Secor.

Another portfolio company of Bihua Chen’s Cormorant goes public

Another company backed by Bihua Chen’s Cormorant Asset Management has gone public. Ambrx, Inc. raised $126 million by offering 7 million American Depositary Shares at $18 a share. It is now listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AMAM.

Based in La Jolla, Calif., Ambrx is focused on developing precision biologics using an expanded genetic code. The company’s board includes Katrin Rupalla, who is senior vice president, global regulatory strategy, research and development quality and medical information at Lundbeck, and Olivia Ware, who previously was senior vice president, BTK Franchise Head at Principia Biopharma, Inc., which was acquired last year by Sanofi.

Ambrx first filed to go public in 2014, but then withdrew and was acquired by a consortium of Asian pharmaceutical and private equity firms in 2015. Last year, it did a $200 million crossover round whose participants included Cormorant, as well as Fidelity Management & Research Company, BlackRock, HBM Healthcare Investments, Invus, Adage Capital Partners and Suvretta Capital Management.

Cormorant, according to the filing, owned 5.7 percent of Ambrx’s shares prior to the offering – the same amount as HBM. HOPU Reunion Company, Ltd. was the largest shareholder with an 18.1 percent pre-IPO stake. Entities affiliated with WuXi owned 13.6 percent.

Cormorant has now had at least 11 companies go public in 2021: Centessa Pharmaceuticals; Rain Therapeutics, Inc.; Verve Therapeutics (See Story Above); VectivBio Holding; Biomea Fusion; Prometheus Biosciences, Inc.; Design Therapeutics; Edgewise Therapeutics; Pharvaris, which Anne Lesage co-founded; and Talaris Therapeutics, Inc., which was founded by Dr. Suzanne Ildstad.

Cormorant also has at least four companies in registration: Artiva Biotherapeutics, Inc., GH Research Ireland, Elevation Oncology and Graphite Bio, whose scientific co-founders include Dr. Maria Grazia Roncarolo. It also has another, Tango Therapeutics, which is set to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company. Tango’s CEO is Dr. Barbara Weber.

Lee-Sepsick’s Femasys raises $34M and goes public

A developer of innovative medical devices for women founded and led by Kathy Lee-Sepsick goes public. Femasys, Inc. raised $34 million by offering 2.7 million shares at $13 a share. It is listed on Nasdaq under the symbol FEMY.

Based in Suwanee, Ga., Femasys has developed a non-surgical female sterilization device. The catheter-based system allows physicians to deliver biomaterial that permanently blocks the fallopian tubes. The procedure does not require anesthesia and permanent implants. It is currently in clinical trials. Femasys also has commercially available products for diagnosing infertility and cervical cancer.

Kathy, who serves as president and CEO, founded Femasys in 2004. An inventor on more than 60 patents and patent applications, she previously held positions with Novoste, Terumo Medical Corp. and Salumedica. Femasys’ board also includes Anne Morrissey, who is the former CEO and president of Alydia Health. The largest shareholder is entities affiliated with John Dyett, who is co-CEO of Salem Partners, a Los Angeles investment bank. He was listed as owning 36 percent of the company prior to the offering. Kathy owned 5.72 percent.

Northpond Ventures’ Andrea Jackson sees Codex DNA go public

Codex DNA, whose board includes Northpond VenturesAndrea Jackson, goes public. The San Diego company raised $107 million by offering 6.7 million shares at a price of $16 per share. It is listed on Nasdaq under the symbol DNAY.

Codex DNA makes an automated synthetic biology workstation and related solutions. The company’s platform is focused on addressing the bottlenecks across the multi-step process of building DNA and mRNA.

Codex DNA generated $8 million in sales for the 12 months ended March 31. Northpond was the largest shareholder, owning a 43.5 percent pre-IPO stake. GATTACA Mining, LLC owned 27.8 percent, BroadOak held 10.8 percent, DH Life Sciences 10.6 percent and Synthetic Genomics, Inc. 5.7 percent.

Sharon Kedar who co-founded Northpond, was on the board until recently replaced by Andrea. Other members of Codex DNA’s board include Christine Tsingos, who previously served as the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc., and Jami Nachtsheim, who previously held a series of leadership roles with Intel Corp.

Andrea joined Northpond in March 2020 and serves on the boards of such companies as Current Health, NanoView Biosciences, Octave Bioscience, Scitara Corp., Syapse, Inc., VieCure, Vizgen and Outcomes4Me, Inc., whose founder and CEO is Maya Said.

Sharon founded Northpond in 2018 with Dr. Michael Rubin. The firm has offices in Cambridge, Mass.; Bethesda, Md.; and San Francisco, and has more than $1 billion of committed capital.

Anne Wojcicki’s 23andMe is now publicly traded

23andMe, whose co-founder and CEO is Anne Wojcicki, is now publicly traded. The Sunnyvale, Calif. consumer genetic testing and research company combined with a special purpose acquisition company, VG Acquisition Corp., which is sponsored by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. It is now traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ME.

The transaction valued 23andMe at $3.5 billion. The transaction raised nearly $600 million. 23andMe raised $868 million in venture funding, according to Crunchbase. Its investors include Altimeter, Casdin and Sequoia Capital.

A portfolio company of TSG’s Blythe Jack is set to go public

A portfolio company of TSG Consumer PartnersBlythe Jack is poised to go public. Dutch Bros Coffee, a drive-through coffee chain, disclosed that it has filed a confidential initial public offering. The Grants Pass, Ore. company has more than 400 locations in seven Western states. Blythe, a managing director, led TSG into Dutch Bros in 2018.

Blythe is coming off a 2020 in which three of her portfolio companies were acquired. Canyon Bicycles GmbH was purchased by Groupe Bruxelles Lambert for a reported 800 million euros. TSG also sold its stake in eyewear company Privé Revaux – whose founders includes actress Ashley Benson and actress and singer Hailee Steinfeld. Safilo Group purchased a 61.34 percent stake in Privé Revaux for $67.5 million. TSG also sold its minority stake in another of her companies, SweetWater Brewing Co., in conjunction with the company’s purchase by Aphria, Inc. Blythe also serves on the boards of portfolio companies BrewDog and Backcountry.com.

GGV Capital’s Jenny Lee is on the board of a company that has filed to go public

GGV Capital’s Jenny Lee is on the board of a Chinese online tutoring company that has filed to go public. Spark Education is seeking to raise $100 million and list on Nasdaq under the symbol SPRK.

Based in Beijing, Spark offers after-school tutoring in classes with four to eight students. Its three main subjects are mathematical thinking, Chinese and English. 

Jenny joined the board a year ago after leading GGV into the company. Following the offering, Spark’s board also will include Hannah Lee, who previously served as CFO at Ganji.com, Global Education & Technology Group and The9 Limited.

Spark generated $230 million sales for the 12 months ended March 31. GGV, according to the filing, owns 8.9 percent of Spark prior to the offering. Venus Mission, Ltd. is the largest shareholder with a 13.6 percent stake. Sequoia Capital China owns 10.5 percent and IDG entities has 8.7 percent.

Jenny earlier this year led GGV into Ronovo Surgical, which is focused on innovating minimally invasive and digital surgery. A managing partner with GGV, Jenny was earlier this year named to the Forbes Midas List of top Venture Capitalists for the ninth consecutive year. GGV earlier this year closed three funds, totaling $2.52 billion.

Corner Ventures’ Jane Batzofin is president of a SPAC that has gone public 

Jane Batzofin, a partner and general counsel with Corner Ventures, is president of a special purpose acquisition company that has gone public. Corner Growth Acquisition Corp. 2 raised $185 million by offering 18.5 million units at a price of $10 per unit. It is listed on Nasdaq under the ticker TRONU and will now look to merge with a private tech company and, in turn, bring it public.

Jane is also president of two other SPACs. One, Corner Growth Acquisition Corp., went public in December, raising $350 million. Another, Corner Growth Acquisition Corp. 3, has filed to go public and is seeking to raise up to $450 million.

Jane joined Corner Ventures after serving as director and general counsel for Green Lake Capital, a power purchase agreement fund. Jane was involved in the sale of Green Lake Capital to ATNI International.

A portfolio company of SoftBank’s Kirthiga Reddy and Elena Viboch and Temasek’s Ankita Jha is poised to become publicly traded

In December, Kirthiga Reddy and Elena Viboch of SoftBank Investment Advisers guided the firm’s Vision Fund 2 into Pear Therapeutics, Inc. Now, six months later, the developer of digital therapeutics – which is also a portfolio company of Temasek’s Ankita Jha – is poised to become publicly traded. Pear will go public by combining with a special purpose acquisition company, Thimble Point Acquisition Corp. The deal values Pear at $1.6 billion and would provide it approximately $400 million in gross proceeds. After the merger is completed, the combined company will be named Pear Holdings Corp. and will list on Nasdaq under the symbol PEAR. Existing Pear equity holders will hold approximately 72 percent of the combined company.

Pear is developing what it calls Prescription Digital Therapeutics – a new therapeutic class that uses software to directly treat serious disease, alone or in combination with drugs. The company has received market authorization from the FDA for products to treat substance use disorder and opioid use disorder. Pear also recently launched another FDA-authorized PDT for the treatment of chronic insomnia.

SoftBank led Pear’s $80 million Series D round late last year. That round also included Forth Management, Pilot House, Sarissa Capital, Shanda Group, QUAD Investment Management, and existing investors Temasek, 5AM Ventures, Arboretum Ventures, JAZZ Venture Partners, Novartis, CrimsoNox and EDBI. With that financing, Elena joined Pear’s board and Kirthiga became an observer.

In a statement, Kirthiga said, “we believe prescription digital therapeutics are creating a new category of medicine with applications worldwide. As the lead investor of Pear’s last private financing round, we are pleased to support the company’s mission and their journey to becoming a publicly traded company.”

Another company on whose board Kirthiga serves, WeWork, is also going public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

Ankita, an associate director on Temasek’s health care investment team, is also an observer on Pear’s board. Pear’s board also includes Nancy Schlichting, retired chief executive officer of Henry Ford Health System.

ICONIQ Capital’s Caroline Xie and Swee Yeok Chu-led EDBI have a portfolio company go public

ICONIQ Capital’s Caroline Xie and EDBI, whose CEO and president is Swee Yeok Chu, have a portfolio company go public. Sprinklr raised $266 million by pricing 16.6 million shares at $16 a share. It is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol CXM. Based in New York, Sprinklr provides customer experience management software for enterprises. It has 1,179 customers, including more than 50 percent of the Fortune 100.

Sprinklr generated $405 million in sales for the 12 months ended April 30. ICONIQ owned 10.8 percent of Sprinklr prior to the offering. Hellman & Friedman was the largest shareholder with a 24.8 percent pre-IPO stake and Battery Ventures held 19.1 percent. EDBI’s holdings were not listed. EDBI is the corporate investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board.

A general partner, Caroline recently invested in Nayya, which has developed an insurance benefits experience and management platform. Her portfolio also includes Unite Us, Komodo Health, Datadog, Braze, GitLab, InVisionApp, Apttus and Smartling. Sprinklr’s board includes Yvette Kanouff, who is a partner and chief technology officer of JC2 Ventures, LLC.

Tianyue Yu’s Quanergy Systems is set to become publicly traded

Quanergy Systems, Inc., which was co-founded by Tianyue Yu, is set to become publicly traded. The Sunnyvale, Calif. developer of sensor technology for autonomous cars has agreed to merge with a special purpose acquisition company, Citic Capital Acquisition Corp. Once the merger is complete, Quanergy would be valued at $1.4 billion, receive $270 million in pro forma net cash and trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol QNGY. Quanergy has raised capital from such investors as Delphi Automotive, Rising Tide, GP Capital, Motus Ventures, Samsung Ventures, Wicklow Capital and Wardenclyffe Partners.

Tianyue, who serves as chief development officer, co-founded Quanergy in 2012 with Louay Eldada, who served as CEO but has since left the company. Tianyue previously held leadership roles at established tech companies and also start-ups.

Silver Lake’s Bianca Stoica sees a firm portfolio company go public

Bianca Stoica, a principal with Silver Lake, is on the board of a firm portfolio company that has gone public. First Advantage raised $383 million by offering 25.5 million shares at $15 a share. It is now listed on Nasdaq under the symbol FA.

Based in Atlanta, First Advantage provides technology solutions for screening, verifications, safety and compliance related to human capital. It had more than 30,000 customers in 2020 and generated $530 million in revenue for the 12 months ended March 31.

Silver Lake acquired First Advantage in 2019. Bianca joined First Advantage’s board in 2020. She has been with Silver Lake since 2015. First Advantage’s board also includes Judith Sim, Oracle Corp.’s former chief marketing officer, and Susan Bell, a retired Ernst & Young partner.

Maven Ventures’ Sara Deshpande has a portfolio company set to become publicly traded

Sara Deshpande, a partner with Maven Ventures, has a portfolio company set to become publicly traded. Embark Trucks, Inc. has struck a deal to merge with a special purpose acquisition company, Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp. II, and, in turn, go public.

Embark is an autonomous vehicle software-as-a-service company that is focused on the U.S. trucking market. The San Francisco company has partnerships with such companies as Anheuser-Busch InBev, HP, Inc. and Werner Enterprises. The transaction reflects an implied pro forma equity value of $5.16 billion and will result in $614 million in gross proceeds to Embark. With the transaction, Elaine Chao will join the company’s board. Elaine was previously secretary of transportation and secretary of labor.

Embark has raised $117 million in venture funding, according to Crunchbase. In addition to Maven, its backers include Tiger Global Management and Sequoia Capital. Earlier this year, Sara led Maven into Pledge, a fundraising platform. Sara’s portfolio includes Gennev, Wildtype, Frame, Hello Heart, Carrot Fertility, Daybreak Health and Eden, which was co-founded by Susie Sun.

Sarah joined Maven in 2014 – a year after Jim Scheinman founded the firm. Maven is investing from its $65 million third fund which is raised in 2019.

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